Los Angeles County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the region’s ban on evictions and other tenant protections enacted as the pandemic sent unemployment surging.
The county’s eviction moratorium now expires Sept. 30 instead of at the end of this month. Tenants’ rights groups had argued July 1 was too soon for people struggling through the pandemic to begin paying rent, with the state economy only having reopened two weeks before.
“Millions of county tenants rely on you and we cannot wait for the state,” one woman told the Board of Supervisors during Tuesday’s meeting’s public comment period. “We are looking to you to provide protections, especially the lower-income tenants who are still struggling to find employment and are faced with crushing amounts of rent debt.”
Federal eviction protections are also set to expire on June 30, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom is currently negotiating with lawmakers on when the state’s eviction ban will expire.
However, the governor said Monday that the state has enough pandemic relief money from the federal government to pay off all the past-due rent California residential tenants accumulated during the pandemic.
California has $5.2 billion it can allocate toward unpaid rent from the various COVID-19 relief packages, which appears to be more than enough to cover everyone’s rent, Jason Elliott, senior counselor to Newsom on housing and homelessness, told the Associated Press.
California’s eviction protections are broader than those at the federal level, but L.A. County’s go further than even the state’s.
The county’s rules also protect commercial tenants, unauthorized occupants and pets, and tenants who deny their landlords entry due to the public health crisis.
However, Tuesday’s vote also begins to phase out rules. Owners of single-family homes purchased on or before June 30 can evict current tenants so that they can move in, provided certain conditions are met, according to the motion.
“We’ve avoided mass evictions, and our responsibility now is to phase out this moratorium in a way that ensures we don’t just throw away our one success — keeping families in their homes — while thoughtfully easing the rules on property owners and eventually returning to normal,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.
Tuesday’s motion also instructs county lawyers to report on the feasibility of requiring landlords to apply for rental assistance before taking legal action against any tenant impacted by the coronavirus, and requiring renters to document how COVID-19 has hurt their finances and show they have applied for rent relief.