County Extends Nonpayment Moratorium Through March [Updated]

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has extended county moratorium protections for low-income renting households through March 2023. To gain the protection a qualified renting household must file the county moratorium declaration with the landlord by the end of the 7th day after rent is due. Any tenant that can qualify but has not paid full rent, or that has already been served with a 3-day notice to pay or quit, should consider sending the county declaration to the landlord immediately!

The county provides renting households that cannot pay full rent due to COVID-related financial hardship with a defense against eviction if the household qualifies and files the county declaration with the landlord in a timely manner. This applies to renting households in Beverly Hills just like any qualified renter throughout the county. However tenants won’t know that because our Rent Stabilization Office simply doesn’t inform tenants and landlords. It is briefly mentioned on the RSO website’s COVID page but one has to dig down into the content to find it. And all it says: “Tenants may also reach out to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at 800-593-8222 for questions related to the Los Angeles County protections.”

Let Renters Alliance review the requirements for qualifying under the county moratorium’s prohibition on eviction for nonpayment of rent as well as the other protections the county moratorium offers. Next we will look at a couple of hypothetical instances to show how the county protections work in practice.

Qualifying for County Moratorium Protection Against Eviction for Nonpayment

Qualifying for protection. The Los Angeles County moratorium protects against eviction for nonpayment of rent that came due between July 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023 for low-income households that suffered or continue to suffer financial hardship “related to COVID-19.” Related to COVID-19 is defined in section M on page 8 of the county motion on January 24, 2023 that amended and extended the moratorium thru March 31st:

  • A suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, or caring for a household or family member who has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19;
  • Lay-off, loss of compensable work hours, or other reduction or loss of income or revenue resulting from a business closure or other economic or employer impacts related to COVID-19;
  • Compliance with an order or recommendation of the County’s Health Officer to stay at home, self-quarantine, or avoid congregating with others during the state of emergency;
  • Extraordinary, unreimbursed medical expenses related to the diagnosis of, testing for, and/or treatment of COVID-19; or
  • Childcare needs arising from school closures in response to COVID-19.

Qualifying for the county moratorium protection is a two-part test: a qualified household will be BOTH low-income (80% or less of area median income) AND have suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19. The county’s updated moratorium FAQ explains in more detail but let’s look at those two necessary eligibility criteria individually.

Low-income means household income that is 80% or less of area median income (AMI) which itself depends on the number of persons in the household. For some reason the county makes it difficult to find the current and correct AMI figures so here post the figures in effect through May of this year as excerpted from the county’s income limits table for 2022-2013.

Low-income table excerpt for 80% AMI 2022-2023

Financial hardship is defined in the county moratorium as EITHER a “substantial loss of household income” compared to before the pandemic OR “increased or extraordinary unreimbursed monthly household costs” as compared to before the pandemic. Let’s look at those two definitions individually by referring directly to the text of the county motion on January 24, 2023 that amended and extended the moratorium thru March 31st.

The terms ‘substantial loss’ and ‘extraordinary costs’ are defined in section E on page 7 of the county motion on January 24, 2023 that amended and extended the moratorium thru March 31st:

  • ‘Substantial loss’ as used in this paragraph is defined as a loss of at least 10% of a Tenant’s average monthly household income for the 12-month period immediately preceding March 1, 2020, as may be established by pay stubs, payment receipts, letters from employers, or other evidence;
  • Increased or extraordinary costs in food, fuel, child care, and/or unreimbursed medical expenses in an amount greater than 7.5% of a Tenant’s average monthly household income for the 12-month period immediately preceding March 1, 2020.

Again, the county moratorium is somewhat specific in defining those terms while allowing tenants wide leeway to claim a relation to COVID-19 for the purposes of claiming financial impact.

Applicability. The county moratorium extends tenant protections to renting households in Beverly Hills just as it protects renting households in incorporated cities and unincorporated areas throughout LA County. The reason is that county supervisors want to extend baseline protections to all county renting households. If an incorporated city doesn’t have a moratorium in place, or that has enacted COVID tenant protections that fall short of the county’s protections, then the county moratorium will be the fallback protections tenants have.

Beverly Hills today has no moratorium in place because City Council allowed it to expire in May. Also, Beverly Hills has none of the other protections in the county moratorium that concern eviction related to unauthorized occupants and pets or no-fault evictions more broadly (except owner move-in). The county moratorium’s prohibition on landlord harassment and sanctions for harassment apply here because Beverly Hills has no such protection today (nor did it ever).

Protections. The county moratorium extends important protections to low-income renting households in Beverly Hills and throughout the county. With the exception of the rent-freeze that applies only to households in unincorporated areas, qualified households have these protections under the county moratorium pursuant to the county motion on January 24, 2023 that amended and extended the moratorium thru March 31st:

  • A tenant may assert an affirmative defense to an unlawful detainer action for nonpayment of rent, late charges, interest, or any other fees accrued if the Tenant demonstrates an inability to pay rent and/or such related charges due to Financial Impacts Related to COVID-19 and the Tenant has provided notice to the Landlord within seven (7) days after the date that rent and/or such
    related charges were due. – Section IV subsection (A)(1)
  • A Tenant may assert an affirmative defense to an unlawful detainer action where grounds for terminating the tenancy or occupancy is not based on any alleged fault by the Tenant….No-Fault termination of tenancy or occupancy also includes the intent to demolish or to substantially remodel the real property. – Section IV subsection (A)(2)
  • A Residential Tenant may assert an affirmative defense to an unlawful detainer action for (a) nuisance, or (b) for unauthorized occupants or pets whose presence was necessitated by or related to the COVID-19 emergency and who began dwelling in the unit between March 1, 2020, and January 20, 2023. – Section IV subsection (A)(4)

Some notes related to those protections:

  • Filing a timely declaration does not prevent the landlord from posting a 3-day notice to pay-or-quit or even summoning the tenant to court for unlawful detainer for failing to pay the rent. The moratorium only provides the tenant with an affirmative defense against eviction if it goes to court.
  • The county moratorium’s protection from eviction for nonpayment does not obligate a tenant to make partial rent payments during the protections period. Partial payments are advised by the county (a partial payment shows the tenant’s good faith and reduces the amount of rent arrears).
  • Despite the no-fault eviction prohibition, the county moratorium does include an exception that allows the owner to move-in a family member. However this provision is complicated and may conflict with a move-in provision under the Beverly Hills rent stabilization ordinance. (We won’t address it here.)
  • The protection against eviction for creating a nuisance or housing an authorized occupant or pet related to COVID expires on March 31st. However if the unauthorized occupant or pet continue to reside after that protection expires, the landlord must first serve on a 30-day notice to cure or quit prior to initiating an unlawful detainer action rather than the ordinary 3-day notice.

Repayment. The county moratorium specifies a one-year repayment period that begins once the moratorium expires (currently it is set to expire on March 31, 2023). That one year period is an opportunity to repay rent delayed under the country moratorium however rent owed does not need to be fully repaid until the expiration of one-year repayment period. At present that date is March 31, 2024.

A Residential Tenant whose household income is at 80 percent Area Median Income and was unable to pay rent incurred from July 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023, shall have up to twelve (12) months thereafter to repay such rental debt. Further, the Protections set forth in Section VI.A., subsection 2, shall remain in effect for any Residential Tenant who has asserted repayment protections from July 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023, until the end of their repayment period. – Section IV subsection (C)(1)(c)

The landlord may ask for a repayment plan and the tenant may consent to enter into a rent repayment plan “if the Tenant is financially able to do so,” says the county, however the landlord may not demand a repayment plan as a condition for extending forbearance or for any other reason. And if tenant has consented to a repayment agreement the tenant cannot be evicted during the protections period or the repayment period for missing a rent payment.

Harassment. Section IX of the county motion on January 24, 2023 that amended and extended the moratorium squarely addresses the prospect that landlords may harass tenants to pay-up or move-out:

Landlords, and those acting on their behalf or direction, are prohibited from harassing, intimidating, or retaliating against Tenants for acts or omissions by Tenants permitted under these Protections, and such acts by Landlord or Landlord’s agent will be deemed to be violations of the Retaliatory Eviction and Harassment provisions.” Fines range from $1,000 to up to $5,000 per violation and if the tenant is disabled or 65 years of age or older, then an additional fine of up to $5,000 per violation may be assessed.

The list of prohibited “harassing, intimidating, or retaliatory acts” is lengthy and includes: failure to provide housing services, failure to perform required repairs and maintenance, failure to exercise “due diligence in completing repairs” once undertaken, and “influencing or attempting to influence” a tenant to vacate through fraud, intimidation or coercion. Read the entire list on pages 16-18 of the county motion extending the moratorium.

We have heard from a number of tenants who say that the landlord is failing to repair urgent conditions such as water leaks and, instead, suggesting the tenant move out. Likewise we have heard that some landlords are newly aggressive about collecting rent arrears, pressuring tenants for repayment and refusing to honor, even acknowledge, the county moratorium protections. Please get in touch with Renters Alliance if the landlord is harassing you.

The Important Difference Between the County Moratorium and the City’s Expired Moratorium

The city’s moratorium (which city council allowed to expire last May) prevented the landlord from posting a 3-day notice or taking the tenant to court. The county’s moratorium which was in place since last April and which protected only low-income tenants since last July is different: it provides the tenant with an affirmative defense against eviction if the landlord disputes the COVID financial impact claim and takes the tenant to court. If the tenant can support her claim for COVID financial impact, the moratorium is the defense and the court will likely dismiss the case.

However despite the county moratorium the landlord can still post a 3-day notice to pay-or-quit and, if the tenant does not pay the rent as specified in the notice, can then take the tenant to court for nonpayment (unlawful detainer). To be clear the county moratorium’s protection actually begins in the courthouse — not at the time the declaration is filed with the landlord.

The moratorium does bar the landlord from posting a notice, or summoning the tenant to court, based on statements that the landlord knows, or should know, are not true or correct. However that may not stop an aggressive or unscrupulous landlord from using the threat of court action to pressure the tenant to pay the rent arrears prematurely or even vacate the apartment.

We are hearing about landlords who appear to be acting in something less than good faith by posting one or more 3-day notices and summoning the tenant to court where the tenant must support a claim of COVID-related financial impact or possibly be evicted. For that reason we suggest that tenants make a partial rent payment (a demonstration of good-faith) and provide documentation to the landlord to support the COVID impact claim.

Our Take

We suggest tenants who invoke the county moratorium to make a good-faith gesture of providing documentation for a COVID hardship claim that both shows the relation to COVID and the financial impact due to COVID as the moratorium has defined it. That can include a partial payment but there is no such requirement.

The objective from the tenant’s perspective is to make a supportive case at the outset for delaying the payment of rent. If the landlord challenges the tenant’s qualification for the protection, then the tenant will be prepared to demonstrate that she made her best effort to document need to the landlord. That is more likely to lead to a positive outcome in court.

That kind of preparation will also help the tenant make a bad-faith case against the landlord if it goes to court. We have heard from numerous Beverly Hills tenants that the landlord is pressuring them to pay by issuing 3-day notices to pay-or-quit or even denying even the existence of moratorium protections. Any tenant faced with that intimidation or harassment should document everything while making the best case to the landlord for the moratorium protections.

Harassment is a real thing. We have heard from tenants that their landlord is refusing to make repairs — even urgent repairs like water leaks arising from the recent rains. “If you don’t like it, maybe you should leave,” one management company told their tenant. As crazy as it seems, some landlords are willing to hold their own property hostage to damage simply to pressure a tenant to vacate. Again, please get in touch with Renters Alliance if the landlord is harassing you like that.

Additional Information

L.A. County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections website

County resolution extending and amending the moratorium 2023-1-24

County moratorium resolution FAQ updated 2023-2-3

County moratorium declaration updated 2023-1-27

Beverly Hills Rent Stabilization Office website

Los Angeles County Rent Stabilization (800) 593-8222 or

Los Angeles County moratorium banner