In response to the ongoing eviction and shelter crisis facing communities throughout California, SB 91 extends the statewide moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 financial hardship to June 30, 2021, and establishes the State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The U.S. Treasury Department allocated $2.6 billion to California for the program, with $1.5 billion of federal rental relief funds to go toward implementation of a statewide rental assistance program, and $1.1 billion to go to California’s largest cities and counties according to federal law.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program
The Evictions Moratorium and State Rental Assistance Program funds can be used for back rent, prospective rent payments, and utility payments. Specifically, $150 million is earmarked for counties under 200,000 population (and cities within) and $1.32 billion is earmarked for cities and counties over 200,000 population.
The program will begin accepting applications no later than March 15 and will prioritize the payment of rental arrearages. Utility arrearages will also be eligible to be paid, subject to funding availability. Landlords can choose to accept 80 percent of any unpaid rent owed from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. If a landlord accepts this funding, the landlord agrees to forgive the remaining unpaid rent for that covered period. If a landlord chooses not to participate, the tenant can still apply for relief valued at 25 percent of unpaid back rent they owe for the covered period. Qualified tenants will also be able to access funds to cover 25 percent of prospective rent for the months of April, May, and June of 2021, subject to funding availability.
Funding will be administered in three rounds:
- Round 1 – Households with less than 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI)
- Round 2 – Communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, as determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development
- Round 3 – Households with less than 80 percent AMI
Additional information on the State’s Rental Assistance Program is forthcoming. A presentation
from the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency on SB 91 and the State’s Rental Assistance Program is available for those interested.
Eviction Moratorium extended
The Act also extends tenant protections included in the Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 (AB 3088) to June 30, 2021. These protections were originally set to expire on Feb. 1, 2021. The Act includes the same eligibility and program rules as before including:
Protection for tenants and property owners impacted by COVID-19
- Prevents evictions for nonpayment of rent by tenants experiencing a COVID-19 hardship.
- Available to any tenant who timely attests under penalty of perjury that they have not been able to pay full rent due to COVID-19-related circumstances.
- If a tenant pays at least 25 percent of their rent owed between September 2020 and June 2021, they are permanently protected from eviction for not paying their full rent during this period; however they will still owe their landlord all unpaid rent.
- Landlords may still proceed with certain other types of “just cause” evictions unrelated to a tenant’s failure to pay rent.
Additionally, SB 91 provided the following relief to tenants and property owners impacted by COVID-19.
- Limiting public disclosure of eviction cases involving nonpayment of rent between March 4, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
- Protects low-income tenants from landlords assigning or selling their rental debt to a third-party debt collector.
- “Pay or Quit” notice period for nonpayment of rent extended from three to 15 days.
- Protects tenants from being evicted for “just cause” if landlord is shown to be really evicting the tenant for COVID-19 related nonpayment of rent.
- Landlord may not charge late fees for nonpayment of rent between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 to tenants who have attested they are experiencing a COVID-19-related hardship.
- Require landlords to notify all tenants who owe back rent about the availability of their rights and the rental assistance program via an informational notice by Feb. 28, 2021.
- Provides extended consumer protections for requests of mortgage forbearance for homeowners impacted by COVID-19 until Sept. 1, 2021.
Cal Cities will continue to work with the Legislature and the Administration to ensure a timely allocation of this much need funding. For more information and resources, visit HousingIsKey.com