Marc-Anthony Yakou, Esq.
April 5, 2022
Assembly Bill 2179, the latest legislative update to the statewide eviction restrictions in California, represents a step toward pre-pandemic normalcy regarding evictions from rental housing. The bill modifies the law as it relates to the required content of eviction notices for non-payment of rent that initially became due between September 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022, and reveals a legislative intent to return to the pre-pandemic rules for unpaid rent that initially became due on or after April 1, 2022.
Per the bill, the form and content of eviction notices for non-payment of rent depends primarily on when the rent became due, as opposed to when the notice is served. Notices based on unpaid rent which became due between September 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021 (the transition time period) must include updated mandatory language. Likewise, notices based on unpaid rent which became due between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 (the recovery time period) must include updated mandatory language. The purpose of the updated language is to inform tenants of their rights and protections. The new mandatory language will be required for notices served from April 1, 2022 through July 1, 2022.
The bill does not impose any new restrictions, or any continuation of previous restrictions, for unpaid rent that initially becomes due on or after April 1, 2022. For such rental debt landlords will have the ability to serve pre-pandemic style eviction notices, and enforce those notices in court without the need to apply for rental assistance, or consider any COVID-19 related financial hardship.
The bill has also extended the restriction on local governments to change or enact new local laws restricting evictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. No such laws may take effect prior to July 1, 2022 if they were enacted between August 19, 2020 and June 30, 2022. Of course, any such laws enacted prior to August 19, 2020 may remain in effect.
Landlords should keep in mind that AB 2179 provides updates to state law, but local laws (city laws or county laws) which restrict eviction may remain in effect and continue to impact the ability to evict for non-payment of rent at this time. Properties subject to the federal CARES Act also must comply with that act’s notice requirements for non-payment of rent.
Senate Bill 847, the other recently enacted COVID-19 related law that impacts landlords, creates a grant program that will allow certain landlords to be compensated for money owed to them under the terms of a lease agreement. To qualify, a landlord must fall into one of the following two categories:
-The landlord has applied for rental assistance funds, and the application was either denied or twenty days have passed since an application was completed and no decision has been rendered; or
-The landlord has obtained a civil money judgement against the tenant for COVID-19 rental debt.
Proof that the landlord meets one of these criteria will need to be submitted along with an application.
The grant program will be administered by the California State Department of Housing and Community Development.
“Tier one applicants” will be given first priority for obtaining funds under the program. Tier one applicants are landlords who have requested more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) in grants from the program and who are not any of the following:
-A real estate investment trust, as defined in Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code.
-A limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.
Landlords should be careful to ensure that they have not received payment for any of the money requested in the grant application. If the landlord has or does received funds from a rental assistance program, or the tenant, which covers any of the money requested in the grant application, that amount would need to be returned to the department if it is awarded through the grant.
Overall, the two new bills represent positive policy for landlords and a return to normalcy regarding evictions for non-payment of rent which are based on unpaid rent which came due after April 1, 2022. The new grant program established by Senate Bill 847, if properly and efficiently administered, will also give landlords a much needed source of funding, especially for uncollectable debts against judgement-proof tenants. While the COVID-19 era eviction rules have been relaxed, many complexities and potential problems may still arise, especially where federal and/or local rules continue to apply. Therefore, landlords should make sure to consult a qualified landlord-tenant attorney regarding eviction cases.
NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For legal advice please contact an experienced attorney. For more information contact the PKS Law Group, P.C. by visiting www.pks-lawgroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org