By JOSH FRIEDMAN
California’s eviction moratorium is set to expire Thursday, though many tenants who are behind on rent may still have opportunities to stay in their homes through use of rental assistance programs.
The existing state eviction ban protects tenants who have experienced COVID-19 related financial hardships. Until Thursday, such tenants can avoid eviction if they provide their landlord with a signed declaration of financial distress and have paid 25% of the rent due between Sept. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021.
Starting on Oct. 1, landlords can begin the process of evicting a tenant for unpaid rent over the last year. However, landlords must first apply for rental assistance prior to proceeding with an eviction lawsuit, according to rules established by California’s most recent tenant relief act, AB 832.
In order to obtain an unlawful detainer judgment, landlords in most cases must show they have sought rental assistance and have been denied, or the tenant failed to complete his/her part of the rent relief application. Tenants have 15 business days to apply for rental assistance upon receiving a “pay or quit” notice from their landlord or upon receiving a notice that the landlord started an application for rent relief on their behalf.
Over the summer, the state of California announced a $5.2 billion rental assistance program for low-income residents. For qualified tenants, the rental assistance program will pay 100 percent of the amount due to the landlord dating as far back as April 1, 2020.
Additionally, various jurisdictions have adopted local rental assistance programs. Current state rules allow local government eviction ordinances to remain in place until they expire, though jurisdictions cannot defer rent obligations beyond May 31, 2023.
Beginning on Nov. 1, landlords can sue tenants for unpaid rent. But, the state’s rental assistance program can protect tenants from debt collection lawsuits, in addition to eviction attempts.