CA Judicial Counsel

Assembly Bill 832 (AB-832) – COVID-19 Relief, Tenancy, and Federal Rental Assistance

0 Comment Category: Real Estate

The California State Legislature recently passed AB-832.

We wanted to provide you with a brief update on the eviction moratoria and other relevant landlord-tenant law being passed recently, including our review of Assembly Bill 832.

Los Angeles County

The County of Los Angeles extended their moratorium until September 30, 2021. This applies to all properties in unincorporated areas in Los Angeles which are not subject to another moratorium (e.g., the City of Los Angeles does not fall under this moratorium as discussed below).

Los Angeles City

Eviction Moratoria

The City of Los Angeles passed a moratorium early in the pandemic which stated that their moratorium applies until the mayor ends the state of emergency, which is still ongoing. There have been legal challenges to this moratorium (including a request for a preliminary injunction), but it currently remains in full effect. However, as the statewide limitations wind down, it is possible that the Courts will become far more restrictive on the City as the state continues to open up as there will be no further need for an emergency order.

Tenant Anti-Harassment

The City of Los Angeles passed an extremely broad and potentially unconstitutional anti-tenant harassment statute which makes some formerly mundane actions (such as, for example, making multiple offers to a tenant to vacate for reimbursement, i.e., cash for keys) illegal and subject to an action for damages and attorneys fees. The list of 17 different actions which constitute a violation of this statute are too numerous to list here, but if you wish to discuss this law in detail, please feel free to call our office anytime.

Center for Disease Control

The Center for Disease Control extended their moratorium until July 31, 2021, which is far shorter than their previous extensions. There have been multiple legal challenges to this moratorium, stating that this exceeds the CDC’s jurisdiction, including at least 2 which overturned the moratorium, but as it is essentially less restrictive than the state moratorium, it hasn’t had much bearing on cases within the State.

State of California

Commercial

The Governor extended the state law permitting local commercial moratoria evictions to September 30, 2021. However, he did this as part of a 13-page long phase-out of various different COVID-related statutes, some whose expirations were made immediate, others made in July-August 2021, and the commercial eviction moratoria to September 30, 2021. It is fairly clear, though not guaranteed, this will be the final extension made as a “transitionary” period to full normalcy regarding commercial evictions starting October 1, 2021.

Residential

The new bill extending the statewide residential eviction moratorium is called AB 832 and essentially it extended AB 3088 and SB 91 until September 30, 2021, with all relevant dates being extended at least 90 days. The following are the most important changes:

1. New Relevant Dates

Definition of “COVID-19 Rental Debt” Period – March 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021

First date to file civil COVID 19-Rental Debt Actions – November 1, 2021 (all civil actions seeking COVID-19 rental debt and which were pending before January 29, 2021 are also stayed until November 1, 2021, unless they were already pending before October 1, 2020)

25% of COVID-19 Rental Debt Due – September 30, 2021

2. The 25% Due

With regard to the 25% due, the law now clarifies that ALL the payments made during the “transition period” (September 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021) must add up to 25%, thus, all the payments made during the 13 months count towards the 25% of the entire period. Also, the 25% requirement ONLY applies if a landlord serve a 15-day notice for such period, so it is IMPERATIVE that you continue to serve the 15-day notices every month.

3. Local Moratoria

AB 832 has unfortunately greatly expanded local entities’ powers to extend their own moratoria calendars as follows:

a. The final date for the commencement of a repayment period is extended May 1, 2022.

b. The final date for the completion of a repayment period (i.e., the last date by which all repayments of COVID-19 rental debt must be paid) is now May 31, 2023. That means, for example, in the City of Los Angeles, the local ordinance provides for a repayment period of 12 months after the end of the local emergency. Under SB-91, that provision would have been illegal, as the prior completion date was August 31, 2021. However, if LA were to end their emergency status October 1, 2021, thus providing until October 1, 2022 to pay back all COVID-19 rental debt, that provision would now be legal.

4. Rental Reimbursement

This bill adjusted the prior 80% recovery up to 100% recovery of unpaid rent from the rental recovery programs, plus allowed time for the earlier approved distribution to be made. The same rules regarding who gets paid, i.e. those parties who make less than 80% of the area median income, still apply. The discussions surrounding the bill seem to indicate that this was meant to be one final extension given the state’s full economic reopening, but of course, that could change as we approach the new September 30th deadline.

5. Informational Notice

Similar to AB3088 and SB91, a new informational notice must be given to all parties who owe a balance from the COVID-19 period.

6. Future Eviction Requirements

When filing evictions going forward for monies owed from the COVID-19 rental period (March 2020 to September 2021), you will need to have a final decision letter from an agency that can provide rental assistance. This includes a notice that (1) a person is not eligible, (2) no further assistance is available, or (3) despite the landlord filling out all of the necessary paperwork, the application is incomplete 15 business days after you filed the application due to something missing on the part of the tenant.

As always, if you have any further questions or if we can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The attorneys at Davidovich Stein Law Group have helped countless clients with resolving these types of issues.  If you’re facing a similar situation, call our office today at (818) 877-4719 to speak about options.

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