Evictions: Can You or Can't You?
Hardship Declaration Forms: The Newest Lease Requirement
Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law to halt evictions for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to a financial hardship relating to COVID-19. The protections extend through January 31, 2021. The bill also provides some foreclosure protections to small landlords suffering from missed rent payments.
Bullet Points for Tenants:
The Act applies to residential tenants (not commercial)
The tenant must provide the landlord with a written declaration of hardship occurring between May 1 and August 31, 2020.
Tenants are still responsible for paying all unpaid amounts to landlords.
Tenants must pay at least 25% of the rental payments due in that time period to avoid eviction.
Or a tenant can pay one lump sum by February 1, 2021 to avoid eviction.
Before a landlord may evict a tenant under this law, they are required to give tenants a 15-day notice that informs them of the amounts owed.
The 15-day notice must also include a blank declaration form to use to comply with this requirement.
Tenants with a household income of at least $100,000 per year, or 130 percent of the median household income, may be asked to submit additional documentation to support their hardship declaration.
Bullet Points for Landlords:
The Act requires the landlord to provide tenants with hardship declaration forms in the same language in which the lease is written.
Landlords are permitted to start recovering unpaid rent beginning March 1, 2021.
Tenants who failed to pay rent during the specified period will have their rent balance turned into consumer debt, which can be pursued in small claims court starting March 1, 2021.
Landlords who own fewer than four units and do not live in them will receive some foreclosure protections under the Homeowners Bill of Rights.
The Homeowners Bill of Rights also prohibits “dual track” foreclosures, in which lenders pursue foreclosures while simultaneously negotiating loan modifications.
Evictions not related to unpaid rent – such as nuisance complaints or health and safety violations – may still occur.
Residential tenants facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 should return hardship declaration forms, which landlords are required to provide, within 15 days of receiving the form.
The Act does not include protections for commercial landlords and tenants.
A landlord engaging in “self-help” activities, such as kicking tenants out or removing property, can be penalized up to $2,500 for doing so.