UPDATE: On August 14, 2020, California judicial authorities voted to lift the emergency rules on eviction and foreclosure moratoriums. Permitted eviction proceedings will resume September 2, 2020.
What are the restrictions on Residential Evictions in California?
The statewide restrictions on residential evictions in California have been extended through September 30, 2020, by the Governor of California in his Executive Order dated June 30, 2020. Our prior fact sheet details the various bans on residential evictions in California and can be found here: Federal, California, and Los Angeles Region Moratoriums on Evictions, Rent Increases, and Mortgage Foreclosures
Does California’s Price Gouging law, Penal Code section 396, restrict residential evictions during and after Covid-19 in California?
California Penal Code section 396 makes it unlawful to evict any tenant of residential housing and rent or offer the premises to another person for a rental price greater than what the evicted Tenant could be charged (i.e., 10% increase discussed above.) This restriction applies to the time period during an emergency and for 30 days or any other extended mandated time period thereafter. However, evictions that were legally commenced prior to the state of emergency may be continued as well as evictions of a tenant for any other law purpose.
The Governor of California has extended the enforcement of Penal Code section 396 through September 30, 2020, via his Executive Orders.
Details on eviction moratoriums during Covid-19 under California’s price gouging law, and the civil and criminal penalties for violating section 396, are explained in our prior fact sheet available here: Understanding California’s Price Gouging Laws: The Do’s & Don’ts of Price & Rent Increases during State Emergencies.
Did California Judicial authorities amend laws to Halt Evictions?
They did, but not anymore. Following the Governor’s executive orders, in April 2020, California judicial authorities amended state laws pertaining to evictions and foreclosures. California Courts issued rules staying all eviction cases until 90 days after the Governor declared the state of emergency to be over.
However, on August 14, 2020, California courts ended that stay and permitted eviction cases to resume as of September 2, 2020. Specifically,
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES EVICTION MORATORIUM
What Do I Need to Know about the Moratorium on Commercial & Residential Evictions and Rent Increases Enacted by the County of Los Angeles?
The County of Los Angeles issued detailed guidelines on the Moratoriums on Commercial and Residential Evictions and Residential Rent Increases on June 3, 2020, June 6, 2020, and July 21, 2020. The various provisions are detailed below.
What are the Key Points to Note about the Eviction & Rent Increase Moratorium in LA County?
What is the Prohibition on Commercial and Residential Evictions?
During the Moratorium, a Landlord shall not evict a residential, commercial or mobile home space renter, serve a notice to evict, file an unlawful detainer, take other steps to terminate a tenancy, or make a Tenant vacate the property:
What Factors are Considered to Determine the Financial Impact on the Tenant due to Covid-19?
What is Included in Making a Determination if a Financial Impact on the Tenant is Related to Covid-19?
How Can a Tenant Establish the Financial Impact Related to Covid-19?
Is There a Stay on Pending Eviction Proceedings?
A Landlord who has started to evict a Tenant for nonpayment of rent and receives notice from Tenant as discussed above, and the Tenant demonstrates extenuating circumstances prevented the Tenant from providing the Landlord with the notice earlier; then the Landlord must cease all eviction efforts, including dismissing any unlawful detainer filed. The Tenant shall not be deemed the prevailing party and is not entitled to recover costs or legal fees as a result of such a voluntary dismissal by the Landlord.
How is the Number of Employees for a Commercial Tenant Calculated?
How is Payment of Rent to Be Made by the Tenant After the Moratorium Ends?
What is the Prohibition on Rent Increases?
What are Prohibitions on the Harassment of Tenants?
A Landlord shall not harass or intimidate a Tenant protected by the Moratorium by threatening to terminate the lease, evict the Tenant, threatening to serve a notice of eviction or lease termination, demanding payment for rent, which is not yet due per this Moratorium, shut off utilities, etc. Landlords who harass or intimidate Tenants shall be guilty of a misdemeanor under LAMC section 2.68.320.
What Happens if there is a Violation of the Moratorium?
Violations of the Moratorium may be determined by a court in a private right of action between the Tenant and Landlord. The Moratorium is an affirmative defense to an unlawful detainer action.
Can Landlords and Tenants Have Agreements Between Them Concerning the Moratorium?
Landlords and Tenants may enter into any agreement regarding this Moratorium so long as the agreement does not violate any provisions of the Moratorium. Any provisions that violate the Moratorium are void.
Does the County of LA Assist in Voluntary Dispute Resolution?
Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to work together to resolve any disputes relating to the Moratorium and may contact the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (“DCBA”) for the County of LA to provide mediators to help parties reach a mutually satisfactory outcome.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES
What are the prohibitions on residential evictions in the City of Los Angeles?
On March 31, 2020, the City of Los Angeles temporarily prohibited residential and commercial tenants’ evictions for failure to pay rent due to Covid-19. On May 12, 2020, the LA City Council extended the eviction moratorium below for 12 months after the Covid-19 emergency is declared over. A detailed explanation of the ban on residential evictions in the City of Los Angeles is in our prior fact sheet available here.
To the extent the City of Los Angeles’s Moratorium provides lesser or no protections for residential or mobile home tenants, the provisions of the Los Angeles County’s Moratorium, discussed above, will apply.
What Are the Rent Repayment Options for Residential Tenants?
Before the local emergency’s expiration or within 90 days of the first missed rent payment, whichever comes first, a Landlord and Tenant may (but are not required to) agree to a plan for repayment of unpaid rent. The repayment period may be extended by mutual agreement by the Landlord and Tenant.
The Landlord may voluntarily extend a discount to the Tenant during the emergency. The City of Los Angeles’ Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) suggests the following options:
What are the Prohibitions on Commercial Evictions in the City of Los Angeles?
No owner shall evict a tenant of Commercial Real Property during the Local Emergency Period and for three months thereafter if the Tenant is unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic. A detailed explanation of the ban on commercial evictions in the City of Los Angeles is in our prior fact sheet available here.
To the extent the City of Los Angeles’s Moratorium provides lesser or no protections for commercial tenants, the provisions of the Los Angeles County’s Moratorium, discussed above, will apply.
Did the City of Los Angeles Bar Rent Increases?
By an Ordinance dated May 12, 2020, the maximum adjusted rent of any occupied rental unit may not be increased unless necessary to obtain a just and reasonable return until one year following the emergency’s termination.
To the extent the City of Los Angeles’s Moratorium provides lesser or no protections for rent increases, the provisions of the Los Angeles County’s Moratorium, discussed above, will apply.
Monisha Coelho represents clients – from startups to multinational corporations – resolve business and real estate disputes in state and federal court litigation. She has particular expertise handling a wide range of real estate issues involving landlords, traditional and hard money lenders, and developers. She is licensed to practice law in India and advises clients on cross-border US-India business transactions and litigation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional counsel or legal advice. Seek legal counsel for advice with respect to any legal matter. The information in this document may not reflect the most current developments as the subject matter is extremely fluid and may change daily. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein are subject to change.