In this blog, we will discuss what happens to evictions during the coronavirus and what the new eviction moratorium means.
In the past few weeks, Californians have seen the dramatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their everyday life. In addition to the obvious health and safety measures put in place, the State and local governments are taking efforts to help Californians weather the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on the economy. In the past week, both Governor Gavin Newsom (“Newsom”) and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (“Garcetti”) have enacted Executive Orders to protect tenants at a time when loss of employment, and increasing healthcare expenses related to the Coronavirus, threaten to undermine housing security. So what does this mean for evictions during the coronavirus?
Evictions During the Coronavirus Pandemic
On March 16, 2020, Newsom signed Executive Order N-28-20 (“N-28-20”), which authorizes local governments to halt evictions for some renters, slows foreclosure proceedings against homeowners, and protects against utility shutoffs. Specifically, N-28-20 applies to the imposition of limitations when: 1) “The basis of the eviction is the nonpayment of rent, or a foreclosure, arising out of a substantial decrease in household income caused by layoffs or a reduction in the number of compensable hours of work or a substantial decrease in business income caused by [Coronavirus]; or 2) “The decrease in household or business income or out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”. Essentially, N-28-20 applies to tenants who earning capacity or medical bills have been impacted by Coronavirus to the extent the tenant cannot afford to pay rent. Notably, N-28-20 merely suspends State law provisions that conflict with specific local law moratoriums due to the Coronavirus. N-28-20 does not in and of itself create any action or affirmative defense. N-28-20 is in effect through May 31, 2020, subject to extension.
On March 15, 2020, Mayor Garcetti signed an Emergency Public Order (“EPO”) in response to the Coronavirus. With the EPO, Garcetti ordered that no landlord shall evict a residential tenant in the City of Los Angeles during the local emergency period (“Local Emergency Period”) if the tenant is able to show an inability to pay rent due to the circumstances related to COVID-19. The Local Emergency Period currently runs through March 31, 2020, subject to extension. Specifically, the EPO listed workplace closure, childcare expenditure, school closure, or health related expenses as categories tenants may claim impacted their living situation. Notably, the EPO does not preclude a landlord from filing an Unlawful Detainer Action (“UD”) action against a tenant. Instead, the EPO creates an affirmative defense that tenants may use in the event a UD action is filed against them for the non-payment of rent. Tenants who fail to make rental payments will have up to six months following the expiration of the Local Emergency Period to pay any back due rent. The directive applies to the entirety of Los Angeles County including all 88 incorporated cities including Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Inglewood and Redondo Beach.
At the time of publication, neither the State of California nor the City of Los Angeles have issued orders or legislation concerning no-fault evictions, including evictions under the Ellis Act. However, changes may come on that front soon.
If you are a tenant or landlord who is dealing with property issues related to COVID-19, or evictions during the coronavirus, you should consult with an attorney. The attorneys at Schorr Law have experience dealing with such issues. Call now for a consultation or send us a message here.