On Monday, amid a return of Senators and Assembly members to Sacramento, lawmakers are seeking to fast track one of two bills to extend the eviction moratorium before it expires on January 31st.
In his budget proposal released Friday, Governor Newsom said that an eviction moratorium extension should be written into the 2021-2022 state budget and help out both renters and landlords alike. However, the Governor failed to give details on how exactly this would be carried out and how long the moratorium would last. Instead, that part of his proposal is currently being played out in both the Assembly and Senate.
Assembly Bill 15 is authored by longtime COVID-19 eviction moratorium advocate Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco). Under AB 15, the moratorium would be extended until January of 2022 and would cover tenants as long as they included a declaration saying that they couldn’t make rent payments due to COVID-19. In addition, credit agencies could no longer lower credit due to unpaid rent if there has been a COVID-19 declaration as well as numerous other protection extensions surrounding rent and mortgages.
In the Senate, Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), authored Senate Bill 3. Under SB 3 the moratorium would be extended, but only until March 2021. The bill would also hold tenants more accountable for COVID-19 declarations, allowing tenants who lie about their COVID-19 situation to fall under perjury charges.
Both bills would also act as an extension for AB 3088, a bill, also written by Assemblyman Chiu, that was passed in August 2020 and extended the moratorium until January 2021. Tenants under both would also have to pay at least 25% of what they owe since September, continuing the quarter amounts that had been stipulated under the bill if the renter gave a COVID-19 declaration.
While a new budget will not be approved until the summer and both AB 15 and SB 3 not having enough time on a usual bill schedule to be passed and signed by the end of the month, many, including Newsom and lawmakers, are currently trying to fast-track eviction moratorium protection extensions before the deadline. AB 15 has seen the most increased support since being introduced in December, with a number of co-signers attaching themselves to the bill and many California mayors throwing their support behind it as well.
“We cannot force thousands of already financially burdened families, who have lost their jobs and businesses out the door where we’ve made it impossible for them to earn a living,” announced San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo last month. “As the first mayor in the United States to announce an eviction moratorium in March, I emphatically support Assembly member Chiu’s bill to extend the eviction moratorium, providing the time that Californians desperately need to get back on their feet.”
Negative reaction to the moratorium extension proposals
However, the Governor’s proposal and both bills have drawn the ire of many housing, landlord, and city groups who maintain that an eviction moratorium extension would lead many landlords and developers to ruin.
“We’re in a dangerous place now,” Danielle Tran, the leader of an independent landlord group in the Bay Area, explained to the Globe. “We’re almost a year into having tenants not giving us money or staying there without repercussions. And now we may have to wait even longer to get rid of troublesome tenants or tenants using COVID-19 as a way to get reduced rent.
“And honestly, all this is doing is forcing many smaller landlords to give up and sell their places, many of which are going to big firms that increase prices and have many tenants, many of them low-income, to leave. This is the real damage. Landlords are getting hurt, and they’re actually reducing the number of low-income units. Forget about building new places for low-income people. How about preserving the current places?”
“But that’s taking a back seat and not getting mentioned. And all the while we suffer. We’re caught in the middle. We can’t get full amounts out of tenants or have them leave, but the government isn’t helping us out to make up the difference. So we get screwed over. Ultimately, the moratorium is not going to help anyone if it isn’t, at least reigned in, if not ended. [Lawmakers] don’t seem to care about us.”
If no action is taken this month, the statewide eviction moratorium will end on January 31, 2021. Lawmakers are expected to address the issue in the coming weeks.