AB3088 – Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (Video)

 

This video provides an overview of AB3088 – the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020.

A blog article on AB3088 – the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 can be read here. Landlords seeking a paid consultation to discuss a particular eviction matter during the COVID-19 era can schedule the appointment here.

Follow the Law Office of David Piotrowski on the following sites to receive current news and best practices relating to evictions:

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COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (AB 3088)

 

This article is written for California landlords and discusses the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (AB 3088), which is part of the urgency legislation that was signed into law by Governor Newsom. This law is anti-landlord and provides additional eviction restrictions to protect tenants from being evicted through the end of January 2021, with some exceptions.

This article is not intended to be legal advice and provides only a high-level overview of the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (AB3088) and touches on some of the main points of the law relating to evictions, which is effective now. Landlords wanting to discuss their particular potential eviction should schedule a paid eviction consultation with us.

Note: This is a new law and interpretation is subject to change. Consult legal counsel before taking any action.

Non-Payment of Rent Cases under the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (AB 3088)

The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 applies to all non-payment of rent cases between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021. Landlords will need to serve a 15 day notice to pay or quit, instead of the normal 3 day notice. The notice must include a blank declaration that a tenant can sign and return to the landlord. Except for high income tenants, as defined in the law, the tenant is not required to provide any documentation whatsoever as proof that they have been been financially impacted by COVID, meaning, landlords must take the tenant’s word for it if the tenant signs and returns a declaration to the landlord. For rent between September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021, the tenant would have to pay 25% of the rent owed, prior to January 31, 2021. If a tenant meets these very small requirements, then a landlord cannot move forward with an eviction for non-payment of rent prior to February 2021!

High income tenants (and only if the landlord has knowledge of the high income already), can be required to provide documentation to support their claim of being impacted by COVID, if the landlord requests such documentation in the 15 day notice.

If the tenant returns a signed declaration to the landlord for the March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020 rent, then the tenant is protected from being evicted for non-payment of rent. Beginning in March 2021, tenants can be sued in small claims court over these missed payments, but not in eviction court, meaning, the tenant cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent for unpaid rent for the months of March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020, so long as the tenant returns a signed declaration to the landlord and no documentation is necessary to support the tenant’s claim (except for high income tenants).

With respect to rent for the September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021 period, if the tenant returns a signed declaration to the landlord and pays 25% of the rent that was due from September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021, then the tenant cannot be evicted for the non-payment. It is important to note that while the tenant is supposed to return the signed declaration to the landlord within 15 days of being served with the notice to pay or quit, the tenant is not required to pay the 25% rent requirement until January 31, 2021, which effectively means if the tenant returns the declaration to the landlord, the landlord cannot move forward with the eviction case until February 2021. If, by January 31, 2021, the tenant submits a payment equal to 25% of the rent that was incurred between September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021, then the landlord is barred from evicting the tenant, and the landlord’s recourse for the unpaid 75% would be a small claims case against the tenant. If the tenant fails to pay the 25% by January 31, 2021, then the landlord would be allowed to file an eviction for non-payment of rent, beginning in February 2021.

You may have noticed a distinction is made between unpaid rent incurred between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, versus September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021, and the law requires the landlord to provide a different declaration form to their tenants depending on if the past-due rent is for March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020, or for September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. Two notices must be provided to tenants if past-due rent includes both timeframes.

If the tenant fails to return the signed declaration to the landlord within 15 days of being served with the 15 day notice to pay or quit, then the landlord is permitted to move forward with the eviction case beginning in October 2020. However, if during the eviction case, the tenant files a motion and claims mistake or something similar and submits the aforementioned declaration during the pending court case, the court is directed to dismiss the eviction case, effectively cancelling the case even though the tenant failed to follow the directions, and even though the landlord has already spent time and money on the case.

Landlords who have tenants who have missed a rent payment from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020 must provide the tenant with a required notice outlining the tenant rights under the law. We offer this template form and it can be ordered from us for $50. The notice is required to be provided to the tenant by September 30, 2020.

Under the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020, any 3 day notice to pay or quit that was served from March 1, 2020 to September 1, 2020 (before the new law took effect), is invalid and a new 15 day notice will need to be served on the non-paying tenant, along with the unsigned declaration.

In many cases, we can create and serve a 15 day notice on your tenant, along with the unsigned declaration. Schedule a paid consultation to discuss.

Evictions Unrelated to Non-Payment of Rent Under the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020

Generally, nuisance-type cases and other rental violations unrelated to non-payment of rent can move forward, and landlords don’t have to wait until October 5, 2020 to file the unlawful detainer case.

Important to note is that if the landlord/owner has entered into a contract for the sale of the property and the buyer intends to occupy the property, and if it is a single family residence with a few other requirements, these eviction cases can proceed.

However, there are other limitations on evictions. For example, the landlord shall be precluded from recovering COVID-19 rental debt, as defined, in connection with any award of damages.

Additionally, all landlords must have a “just-cause” reason to evict the tenant as outlined in AB1482. Properties that are normally exempt from the just-cause requirements under AB1482 are not exempt under the COVID-19 Tenant Protection Act of 2020, meaning, landlords need to specify an appropriate just-cause reason for the eviction and it needs to be stated on the termination notice. With respect to relocation fees under AB1482, thankfully, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 says landlords are not required to provide relocation fees to the tenant if the landlord would not otherwise be required to provide relocation fees under AB1482. Our understanding of this is that while many single family homes are generally exempt from a just-cause requirement under AB1482, even single family home evictions will need to include a just-cause reason for the eviction. However, since single family homes are generally exempt from relocation fees under AB1482, the landlord who rents the single family home to tenants would not need to compensate the tenant in the form of relocation money. On the other hand, if relocation fees would normally be required under AB1482, those fees are still payable to the tenant, but the landlord is allowed to offset it with any unpaid rent that the tenant owes.

Good to Know about the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (AB 3088)

  1. There are added penalties for landlords who try to wrongfully evict tenants during the effective dates of the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020.
  2. The small claims dollar amounts are lifted for recovering unpaid rent.
  3. The 15 day notice to pay rent or quit does not include weekends or judicial holidays.
  4. If the tenant provides the declaration to the landlord (and pays 25% of the September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021 rent on or before January 31, 2021), the landlord can not evict the tenant for non-payment of rent. The unpaid rent debt becomes consumer debt, not subject to eviction, and the landlord could pursue the unpaid rent through small claims court, but not through an eviction case.
  5. The one year limitation on demanding back-due rent is tolled.
  6. If a local jurisdiction has an existing eviction moratorium in effect, those laws will be allowed to continue until they expire, and landlords will need to abide by them, but they cannot be extended until February 2021.
  7. If a local moratorium allowed for the tenant to pay the missed rent over several months, and if the provision in effect on August 19, 2020, required the repayment period to commence on a specific date on or before March 1, 2021, any extension of that date made after August 19, 2020, shall have no effect. If the provision in effect on August 19, 2020, required the repayment period to commence on a specific date after March 1, 2021, or conditioned commencement of the repayment period on the termination of a proclamation of state of emergency or local emergency, the repayment period is deemed to begin on March 1, 2021. The specified period of time during which a tenant is permitted to repay COVID-19 rental debt may not extend beyond the period that was in effect on August 19, 2020. In addition, a provision may not permit a tenant a period of time that extends beyond March 31, 2022, to repay COVID-19 rental debt.
  8. Most of the new laws under the COVID-19 Tenant Protection Act of 2020 are in effect until February 2021.
  9. As a side note, the Judicial Council emergency rule 1 expire as of September 1, 2020.

Additional Resources

  1. Schedule a paid 15 or 30 minute telephone consultation to discuss your particular case.
  2. Order the required notice that needs to be provided to tenants by September 30, 2020, if the tenant owes any past-due rent beginning on March 1, 2020 ($50 fee).
  3. Watch our AB3088 overview video.
  4. Read the full Text of AB3088, including the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020.
  5. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to receive up-to-date eviction information and landlord best practices.
  6. LA Times article.
  7. CAL Matters article.

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Los Angeles County Rent Control Effective April 1, 2020

 

Los Angeles County decided to create a permanent rent control ordinance which became effective on April 1, 2020. This rent control ordinance is also known as the Los Angeles County Rent Stabilization Ordinance. LA County’s rent control ordinance is a new law that gives tenants additional rights at the expense of landlords. This article will explain many of the main points of the Los Angeles County rent control ordinance and will explain which properties are subject to the ordinance.

Where Does the LA County Rent Control Ordinance Apply?

LA County’s rent control / rent stabilization ordinance applies in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles county. If the property is located in an unincorporated part of LA county, then the ordinance applies to the rental property unless the property is exempt. Examples of unincorporated areas of LA County include Castaic and Stevenson Ranch.

What Properties in Unincorporated LA County are Exempt from Rent Control?

Refer to the Ordinance.

Rent Increases Under the LA County Rent Stabilization Ordinance

Upon proper notice pursuant to Civil Code 789, and assuming the unit is registered with LA County and is current on any registration fees, the rent can generally be increased only once in any 12 month period. Rent banking is not allowed. The maximum rent increase is 8%, but is further restricted to reflect the average change in CPI.

For more details, see LA County Code 8.52.050.

Annual Rental Registration of Unincorporated LA County Rental Properties

On or before September 30th of each year, a Landlord must register each Dwelling Unit that is rented or is available for Rent. A Landlord must contact the Department or update the County’s registry system if there are any subsequent changes to the Dwelling Unit. The landlord may be required to pay a fee to register. See LA County Code 8.52.080.

Evictions in Unincorporated LA County

If the rental property is located in unincorporated LA County and an exemption does not apply, the landlord will only be able to evict a tenant for a “just cause” reason. Just cause includes “at-fault” and “no-fault” reasons. If the reason for eviction cannot be categorized into either an at-fault or no-fault reason, then the landlord will be unable to regain possession, unless the tenant moves voluntarily. If the landlord is evicting for a no-fault reason, the tenant is entitled to receive relocation fees. Strict eviction guidelines must be followed. Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski for possible assistance with evicting a tenant in unincorporated Los Angeles county.

More information can be found in LA County Code 8.52.090.

Tenant Buyout Agreements in LA County

Tenant buyout agreements are permissible to remove a tenant subject to the LA County rent control ordinance. Strict guidelines must be followed and the tenant will have the right to rescind the agreement for 45 days after execution.

See LA County Code 8.52.100.

More Information

  1. Read the LA County Rent Control Ordinance.
  2. Schedule a paid consultation to discuss your options with respect to evicting a tenant in LA County. We represent landlords only.
  3. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to receive up-to-date eviction information and landlord best practices.

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Los Angeles City Council Failed to Pass Broader Eviction Restrictions

 

Los Angeles landlords received a small “win” during the LA City Council meeting on April 22, 2020, when the Council failed to vote in favor of additional eviction restrictions during the Coronavirus pandemic.

During the Los Angeles City Council meeting on April 22, 2020, there were several items up for debate that would have placed even more restrictions on evictions. These restrictions would have further eroded the ability of a landlord to enforce his or her rights with respect to evictions within the City of Los Angeles.

The ordinances would have:

  1. Allowed for the freezing of rent increases in non-RSO buildings during the emergency period and for 90 days after the emergency
  2. Prevented landlords from evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent for any unpaid rent during the emergency period, even after the 12 month repayment period expired
  3. Allowed landlords and tenants to create a temporary rent reduction agreement, in which monthly or annual rent owed is reduced
  4. Prohibited a landlord from terminating a tenancy or from serving a notice to terminate a tenancy or to evict a tenant except for public health or safety

The council agreed, however, to prepare an ordinance freezing rent increases for RSO properties that would be retroactive to March 4, 2020, and would be effective until nearly a year after the end of the emergency. On March 30, 2020, LA Mayor Garcetti had already halted rent increases on occupied rental units subject to the LA Rent Stabilization Ordinance. That order can be read here. On April 22, 2020, the Council decided to take it a step further by agreeing to draft an ordinance that would halt rent increases for RSO buildings, which would be retroactive to March 4, 2020, and the freeze would be in effect for nearly a year after the emergency period concludes.

All-in-all, a good outcome for landlords in an already terrible environment, except for the rent freeze covering RSO buildings.

The LA City Council agenda for the April 22, 2020 meeting can be viewed here, and the items relating to evictions and tenant protections are items 37, 38, and 39. An article from the LA Times discussing the April 22, 2020 LA City Council vote on eviction restrictions can be read here.

Additional Coronavirus Los Angeles Eviction Moratorium Resources

The Los Angeles eviction restrictions are changing rapidly during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic. Landlords should stay up-to-date with the laws governing landlord/tenant law and evictions in Los Angeles during these unprecedented times. The following Los Angeles eviction moratorium resources can be used by LA landlords:

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COVID-19 Landlord and Tenant Forms for California

 

The state of California and many local jurisdictions within the state have imposed strict eviction moratoriums on landlords. As of April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California placed an almost 100% delay on all evictions statewide. Tenants are still responsible for paying rent, but many jurisdictions are deferring rent payments, allowing tenants to pay the past-due rent to the landlord within several months after the coronavirus pandemic ends. Each jurisdiction sets their own repayment rules. Essentially, government is placing the burden on landlords.

Now more than ever, landlords should be creating good written documents with their tenants. Some jurisdictions, such as the City of Los Angeles, require a landlord to provide written notice to a tenant of their rights to defer rent. Some jurisdictions ask a tenant to provide documentation to their landlord showing that the reason for the non-payment is related to COVID-19. (Unfortunately for landlords, the City of Los Angeles does not require a tenant to provide such proof to a landlord, which is leading to many false claims, but the landlord has no ability to dispute the claim at this time.)

To assist landlords, the Law Office of David Piotrowski has created several interactive COVID-19 landlord and tenant forms. The forms are reasonably priced with the goal of having as many landlords as possible use these forms to protect what little rights landlords have. Many of the forms make clear that the landlord is not waiving any rent, and that the tenant will ultimately be responsible for paying the rent.

Create and Download COVID-19 Landlord and Tenant Forms for California

The following are coronavirus landlord and tenant forms. The forms are fully automatic. As a landlord, you simply enter the relevant details into the form builder, make your payment, and then you’ll be able to immediately download and use the form. These are one-time use forms to use for a specific tenant at a specific rental property. If you want a PDF form template that you can use on multiple tenants, see below.

  • Notice of Tenant Rights re COVID-19 – This form is $50. It provides written notice to a tenant, informing the tenant of their rights related to deferment of rent. Some jurisdictions, such as the City of Los Angeles, require a landlord to provide written notice to the tenant. Los Angeles Municipal Code section 49.99.2(E) states, “An Owner shall given written notice of the protections afforded by this article within 30 days of its effective date.” Failure to provide notice may result in penalties.”
  • Partial (or Zero) Rent Payment Receipt – This form is $50. If a tenant makes a partial rent payment (or no payment) because they informed the landlord in writing (most jurisdictions require that a tenant notify a landlord within 7 days of the rent becoming due that the reason for the partial or non-payment was due to COVID-19), the landlord should send the tenant written notification that a partial (or zero) payment was received, spell out the time period for which the tenant has to repay all rent, and make it clear that the landlord is not agreeing to waive the rent. The rent will still be due, just at a later date.
  • Notice to Tenant Requesting Documentation – This form is $50. Many jurisdictions (except the City of Los Angeles) ask a tenant to provide written substantiation that the reason for their non-payment has to do with COVID-19. This form requests that the tenant provide such documentation to the landlord. Specifically in Los Angeles, though, tenants are not required to provide this documentation to the landlord at the time the rent is due.

Unsure about what form or forms you should use, or what the current laws are in your jurisdiction? Schedule a paid, 15 minute call with us.

Coronavirus Multiple-Use PDF Form Templates for Landlords

Instead of a complete, fully-automated and ready-to-use form, do you prefer a PDF template that you can download, fill out manually, and use on multiple tenants? Each multi-use form template is $125. Make your payment here, and in the payment description, be sure to let us know which form you would like. If you are ordering two forms, the cost is $250. Three forms is $375. Once you make the payment, we will email you a PDF of your form template within one business day. You are free to reuse the form on multiple tenants.

Covid-19 California Landlord Resources

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