City Council Confirms: the Beverly Hills Residential Moratorium Sunsets May 31st

Beverly Hills City Council on March 15th affirmed an earlier tentative decision to sunset the city’s residential tenant moratorium on May 31st. On that date all city COVID tenant protections will end. That means full rent will be due starting June 1st and no-fault eviction processes can proceed after that date too. The rent can rise as soon as June 1st with the required 30 days notice.

Council Has Agreed: Time to End COVID Tenant Protections

City Council first enacted the COVID residential moratoria to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic lockdown. These tenant protections went into effect in March of 2020 and will sunset as of May 31st:

  • A moratorium on eviction for nonpayment pursuant to the city’s process to delay the payment of rent (which applied to all residential tenants);
  • A moratorium on termination of tenancy for no fault such as for redevelopment (which also applied to all residential tenants);
  • A moratorium on rent increases starting March 15, 2020 (which applied only to rent-stabilized tenants).

The Council’s decision to allow the moratorium to expire was anticipated by Governor Newsom’s February announcement that we have entered the “next phase” of the pandemic and the governor’s lifting of most COVID-related executive orders. Subsequently Los Angeles County Department of Public Health relaxed most indoor masking requirements too (at least for those fully vaccinated). The rationale was that COVID infections in the county were on the decline.

Finally there was the Super Bowl. Councilmembers in the February meeting had pointed to the massive Super Bowl crowd and suggested that for practical purposes the pandemic was over. We were in a “new normal,” said one councilmember, and council agreed that it was time to sunset the moratorium. At the next March 15th meeting they affirmed that assessment.

The next step for City Council is to adopt a resolution to sunset the residential moratorium which will likely happen at the upcoming April 12th meeting. On that agenda is a more difficult question: how much to allow rents to rise after the moratorium sunsets. Council has discussed allowing a 3.1% rent increase immediately after the sunset to, in effect, carry forward the first missed rent increase (in 2020). With the required 30 days notice that rent increase could come as soon as June 1st.

Lili Bosse at the council meeting March 15, 2022
Vice-Mayor Lili Bosse expresses concern about whopping rent increases should missed rent increases be carried forward.

The difficult decision for City Council is whether landlords should recover all of the rent missed over the two pandemic years. Some tenants even missed a third rent increase. City Council appears intent on allowing landlords to recover all missed rent increases by carrying them forward. If that’s the decision then councilmembers need to decide how to do that in the face of high inflation and the whopping future rent increases it augurs. We will dive more into that issue in an upcoming post.

The challenge for Council is find the right formula that delivers missed revenue to landlords while protecting renting households from the impact of whopping rent increases. Council has discussed a low-income rent subsidy to cushion that blow, and that discussion will come back at a future meeting.

So mark your calendar for April 12th at 7 p.m. when City Council will again grapple with the challenge of winding down moratorium protections. The agenda (which includes the staff report) will be posted to the City Council’s webpage late on Friday April 8th. But Renters Alliance will keep you informed!