Update for Tenants Experiencing COVID-Related Hardship

Recent legislation from Sacramento has extended the temporary state eviction protection for tenants who are waiting on state COVID assistance. Through June 30th the landlord may not evict a tenant who has a pending application with Housing is Key and has not been denied. However effective immediately a Beverly Hills tenant who cannot pay rent, and who has not filed a city declaration for protection, and who does not have a pending relief application, may be evicted. New state legislation (AB 2019) preempts the county from shielding tenants from eviction for nonpayment.

The Backstory

The state legislation known as AB 2179 and enacted late in March preempts most local moratoriums on eviction for nonpayment. The Beverly Hills moratorium, though, does remain in effect until it expires on May 31st. But the state law was effective in blocking the county’s moratorium so we can expect to see a wave of evictions as a result.

Rewind back to January 25th. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors extended and expanded its moratorium protections to protect all tenants, regardless of income, from eviction for non-payment once the tenant affirmed COVID-related economic impact. This protection would have also extended to Beverly Hills tenants too — those who are not protected by the city moratorium. The county extension was to take effect on April 1, 2022. On June 1st that protection was to expire except for low-income households.

The day before the county moratorium was to take effect, the legislature stepped in with a preemption bill: only tenants still protected by a local moratorium (like Beverly Hills) — or had a pending application filed with Housing is Key prior to March 31st — could be served with a 3-day notice. Those notices are going out now as we’ve seen from forwarded emails from pro-landlord attorneys. The state effectively flipped the switch to let evictions resume.

What You Need to Know

How will AB 2179 affect me?

All California tenants have applied for Housing is Key rent relief and with a pending application are temporarily protected against eviction for nonpayment. (Tenants denied relief do not have this protection.) The application period closed on March 31, 2022 and no new applications for relief are being accepted. The purpose of this provision is to allow the state additional time to sort out the backlog of applications. This provision expires on June 30th.

Localities are prohibited from enacting new moratoria before July 1, 2022. This is an extension of an earlier preemption measure that kept localities from extending new protections. Localities with with unexpired moratorium — like Beverly Hills — can still protect tenants from eviction for nonpayment. The purpose of this provision is apparently to a ‘rolling’ preemption so that no locality without a moratorium already in effect can enact one.

Because there is no state or county moratorium in place, tenants who are not protected by the Beverly Hills moratorium must pay 100% of rent due starting April 1, 2022 (and for the foreseeable future) or be subject to eviction for nonpayment. Read a summary of California eviction protections from Nolo Press.

What has not changed after AB 2179

The Beverly Hills moratorium still protects tenants from eviction for nonpayment until May 31, 2022. That is, if the tenant notifies the landlord within 7 days of the date that rent is due… and within 30 days files a declaration with the landlord and the city. The Beverly Hills moratorium looks set to sunset on May 31st after which there will be no moratorium in effect and full rent must be paid. (Download the city’s form for tenants impacted by COVID-19.)

The Beverly Hills moratorium protects all city tenants from eviction for no-fault until May 31, 2022. (such as for redevelopment) until May 31st or whenever City Council chooses to end or extend it. Beverly Hills rent-stabilized tenants (only) are protected from rent increases though May 31st.

Regardless of the local moratorium or AB 2179, all tenants can be evicted for any reason allowed by law, such as for creating a nuisance, destruction of property, or in Beverly Hills for being adjudicated a ‘disruptive tenant.’

Los Angeles County tenants — including Beverly Hills tenants — still have several important protections under the county moratorium:

  • Protection against eviction for housing an unauthorized occupant (like a family member or partner or roommate) due to COVID;
  • Protection against eviction for keeping a pet necessary due to COVID–19 (such as an emotional support animal);
  • Protection against eviction for denying entry to the landlord except for necessary or emergency repairs.

Unfortunately these will expire on May 31, 2022. These protections have been on the books for about 18 months but Beverly Hills City Hall never communicated it to tenants…even though we brought it to the attention of City Council on several occasions…even though we apprized the rent stabilization division that landlords were reported to be requesting entry to premises on pretexts.

You didn’t hear about those rights from the city. But Renters Alliance brought it to your attention over a year ago: More County Tenant Protections: Unauthorized Occupants and Buyouts.

Our Take: No News May Mean Bad News for Tenants

The county’s moratorium beginning April 1, 2022 was well-publicized: tenants who affirmed COVID economic hardship could avoid eviction through June and even through December for low-income households. It was big news: where the state stepped away the county stepped in. Shortly afterward there were posted online fact sheets and advice (including on the Alliance website) and now most of it is outdated due to the state’s preemptive action.

Unfortunately what was not well-publicized was the preemption. Beverly Hills is one of the localities that didn’t mention the state action or even any of the COVID tenant protections that were enacted by the county. For our rent stabilization division these were evidently not news worth sharing. Even today the RSO website is a confusing jumble of information and some of it outdated.

Consequently there are Beverly Hills tenants who learned about their new vulnerability to eviction when they received a 3-day notice to pay or quit. In some cases it amounts to many thousands of dollars. The alternative is to fight or vacate.

Beverly Hills tenants who must delay the payment of all or part of the rent after April 1, 2022 should inform the landlord immediately that she will be filing the city’s moratorium declaration and then provide that declaration to both the landlord and the city.

Before the state got into the preemption business there were temporary policies that kept tenants housed. There was the moratorium and the presumption of hardship. That’s been gone for six months. There was the 15-day notice — up from the usual 3 days. That’s gone too and now we’re back to 3 days.

We know that landlords will take advantage of state preemption of local protections because landlord attorneys are telling them to do it. Of course they are! Because it will be a field day for eviction attorneys.