Residential tenants and attorneys participate in a protest to cancel rent and avoid evictions outside a courthouse on August 21 in Los Angeles.
Valerie Macon / AFP via Getty Images
California governor, lawmakers and other stakeholders on Friday agreed to immediate action to prevent evictions in the state where a statewide moratorium expires on September 1st.
Assembly Act 3088, which extends tenant protection until January 31, 2021, is a compromise law that was revised after negotiations on Friday and in which stakeholders agree to the new terms. Legislators have to pass it by Monday when the state's legislative period ends.
According to the proposal, tenants can be sued in civil court for rent back that they owe by August 31, but they cannot be evicted. For rents owed after August and up to the end of January, tenants must pay 25% by January 31 – 75% is treated as a civil debt – or they risk eviction. There are different requirements for high income renters, defined as those earning 130% of the median income of an area. Tenants must prove that their income has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
See: Thousands in Silicon Valley at Risk of Displacement as the End of the California Moratorium Draws Near
The proposal does not comply with the tenant protection of an earlier draft law AB 1436 by MP David Chiu from D-San Francisco, which would have banned evictions until April. He is a co-author of the Compromise Act, but expressed disappointment.
"What the governor announced today is an imperfect but necessary solution to a colossal problem," Chiu said in a statement on Friday. “I want to make it clear that this is a temporary solution. As we track the impact of the pandemic and recession on tenants, we need to re-examine this conversation at the start of the next legislative term. "
Stakeholders who have estimated that millions of tenants in the state may be at risk of eviction are calling for further action.
See: Judges End California Nationwide Moratorium. Landlords could request evictions in a few weeks
"If it is not combined with a blanket eviction moratorium, tenants affected by COVID could be evicted by landlords with other excuses to get rid of the tenants that AB 3088 is supposed to protect," the lawyer said in a statement calling on Governor Gavin Newsom , an executive order next week to extend the nationwide eviction moratorium at least until the end of the year.
Landlord groups spoke out in favor of the compromise: “We welcome the legislature and the governor for the further development of the legislation with protective measures for tenants who have been really harmed by COVID, while at the same time ensuring that owners can drive away annoying tenants and residents who are themselves can afford to pay rent but play the system instead, "Tom Bannon, executive director of the California Apartment Association, said in a statement.
Language tenant advocates are concerned.
"There is a tremendous racist justice component to this," Sam Tepperman Gelfant, executive attorney for prosecutors, told MarketWatch on Friday. "Black and Latin American households are more likely to be tenants, more likely to be affected by COVID, and potentially more arbitrary evictions."