LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Renters will now receive rent relief through January under a new law signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
According to the new state eviction moratorium, tenants must pay at least 25 percent of their rent from September 1st. Landlords cannot evict tenants for unpaid rents from March through September, although they can take them to a small claims court to recover the money starting March 1, 2021.
But both tenant rights advocates and landlord lobbying groups say government relief is needed to allow renters like April Davis to pay their rents and landlords to stay afloat.
Davis believed her luck would change – after both she and her husband lost their jobs due to COVID, she received news that they were receiving $ 2,000 under the city's emergency relief program.
They soon learned, however, that in order to get the money, their landlord had to sign a waiver stating that he would not increase the rent for a full year after the city's emergency call expired.
"We were lucky to pay our rent," said Davis. "We budgeted, but we also budgeted that $ 2,000 to help us."
Tenant rights activist Larry Gross says his office saw this happen to other tenants and there isn't much they can do.
"Unfortunately, the money goes directly from the city to the landlord. If the landlord refuses to take the money, the city cannot force him to take it," said Gross.
The California Apartment Association says mom and pop landlords are also having problems – they run the risk of losing their properties as tenants don't have to start paying full rent until February 2021.
"When rental apartment providers forego rental income, it is difficult for them to pay their rent, pay their mortgage, and provide for their own employees," said Joshua Howard of the California Apartment Association.
The city of Los Angeles has a stronger eviction moratorium than what the state passed last night. The city ordinance states that tenants do not have to pay partial rent. However, it is still unclear whether the city law will replace the state law.