Los Angeles County Extends Nonpayment Moratorium Through January

Low-income renting households in Los Angeles County got another reprieve in December courtesy of the Board of Supervisors: the county has extended its moratorium through January 2023. Low-income renting households that cannot pay full rent due to COVID-related financial hardship will continue to be protected from eviction for nonpayment while all renting households will  continue to be protected from eviction for most no-fault reasons. Beverly Hills tenants wouldn’t have these protections without the county. Yet we haven’t heard a word about the extension from our own rent stabilization office.

Thanks to Los Angeles County, renting households in Beverly Hills can’t be evicted for nonpayment due to COVID-related hardship; nor can we be evicted for remodeling, redevelopment, or any other lawful reason for termination. Those are important protections for our renting households at a time when renting households are vulnerable to displacement. If displaced we are likely to be shocked at asking rents. And it will be tough to find a place anyway as some landlords seem to keep units off the rental market.

Indeed the Board of Supervisors has effectively tapped the brakes on displacement again on December 20, 2022 when it agreed to extend the moratorium though January 2023. That will delay the wave of eviction filings that is expected once the county protections expire.

Protections Summarized

These protections apply to renting households throughout the county (including Beverly Hills):

  • Protection from eviction for nonpayment (or rent arrears incurred between July 1, 2022 and January 31, 2023) if the household is low-income, defined as earning 80% or less of area median income, and has suffered substantial loss of household income due to COVID and/or suffered increased costs for food, fuel, child care or medical expenses;
  • Protection against eviction for most no-fault reasons (except owner move-in) and that includes tenancy termination for redevelopment (i.e., Ellis) or remodeling — a provision that is keeping an untold number of Beverly Hills renting households from receiving a termination notice;
  • Protection against eviction for keeping an unauthorized occupant, or a pet, if related to COVID necessity — again a provision that helps to shelter a renting household that took-in a relative or an animal in order to cope with pandemic-related stress;
  • Protection against harassment intended to pressure a renting household to voluntarily vacate;
  • Extended protection from eviction for no-fault reasons and protection against harassment through January 31, 2024 for households that used the county moratorium to delay the payment of rent during the Phase II county protections that started July 1, 2022 and which extends through the end of this January.

Important: Only low-income renting households are protected from eviction for nonpayment due to COVID-related economic hardship.

To secure the county protection, the renting household must file a county moratorium declaration with the landlord by the end of the 7th day after rent is due. According to the county that is the end of the business day on January 8th if rent is due on the 1st. Download the updated LA County moratorium declaration.

The tenant will self-attest to COVID-related financial impact. That can be a “substantial loss” of income that is at least 10% of household income; and/or attest to “increased costs” in an amount greater than 7.5% of household income are related to necessities like food, fuel, child care or medical expenses.

Alternately, the county declaration includes other categories that will qualify a low-income household to delay the payment of rent, including:

  • Suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID–19 or “caring for myself or someone else such as a household member suspected or confirmed with COVID–19”;
  • Compliance with a recommendation to self-quarantine or avoid congregation with others; or,
  • Other COVID–19 related reason.

Documentation is optional though it is recommended. According to the declaration that could include a doctor’s note verifying the diagnosis, a letter from an employer, pay stubs or receipts that show a financial impact.

Important: The county protection offers only an affirmative defense against eviction. It does not prevent a landlord from filing an unlawful detainer over rent that was delayed pursuant to the county moratorium.

For example a landlord can claim that the tenant has not demonstrated to the landlord’s satisfaction that the tenant has suffered COVID-related financial impact. The landlord files an unlawful detainer and within five days the tenant must answer. In the following weeks the tenant will appear at court and provide documentation to the court to support her claim of hardship. The affirmative defense will protect the tenant from eviction if the court agrees the tenant has suffered that economic impact.

So it is advisable to provide some documentation to the landlord or, at least, be prepared to provide documentation to the court IF the landlord summons you. Needless to say, a late declaration, or a declaration that is incomplete, will not afford any protection. And of course the county resolution does not cancel rent; it delays the payment of rent.

For more information about the county moratorium protections contact LA County rent stabilization at rent@dcba.lacounty.gov or 800–593–8222. Our Rent Stabilization Office won’t help you.

Our Take: The Board of Supervisors Has Stepped Up Again

City Council sunset the Beverly Hills moratorium in May 2022 as councilmembers declared, “Beverly Hills is open for business!” At the same time,  city hall rolled out the red carpet for hotels, shops and restaurants. Tenants were without local pandemic-era tenant protections. The only protections against nonpayment or no-fault eviction came from Los Angeles County, and those are the only protections we have for now.

Meanwhile surrounding cities like Santa Monica kept their moratorium protections in place through January and even blocks no-fault evictions through February. City of Los Angeles extends their moratorium on eviction for nonpayment through August and prohibits no-fault evictions through January.

Other cities like West Hollywood and Culver City advised their tenants about the county moratorium extension. Not Beverly Hills!

Those has been not so much as a single word from Beverly Hills city hall about the county moratorium extension. There was no press release or news blurb; no emailed heads-up from the rent stabilization office; and no update to City Council or to the Rent Stabilization Commission as recently as this past Wednesday.

City Hall couldn’t even manage a tweet in the two weeks since the Board of Supervisors extended the county moratorium!

Nor will we find the county moratorium extension even mentioned on our rent stabilization website. That’s rent-control malpractice. It also shows that renting households are not any kind of a priority to city hall.

But the Board of Supervisors never took their eye off the ball. Supervisors beat back a landlord association lawsuit to extend the moratorium through December; and now they risk a landlord backlash simply for keeping those COVID-related protections in place through January 2023. We salute Supervisor Mitchell [pictured at top] for moving to extend the moratorium and we salute Supervisor Horvath — our new district representative! — for seconding the motion.