In September, AB 3088 established temporary renter protections that limit evictions based on unpaid rent and delay when some unpaid rent becomes collectable debt. These protections are set to mostly expire in February 2021.
Per a recent UCLA study, evictions have caused over 400,000 COVID infections and 10,000 deaths nationwide. According to Moody’s, 12 million American renters will owe an average of $6,000 in back rent by January. Two million California households have reported "little or no confidence" in their ability to pay January rent.
Millions of struggling renters will be unable to pay their full rent in February and many more will not be paying rent accrued in previous months, as they lack the income to do so. With the additional burden on small community-based property owners and their mortgages, our already unstable housing market risks total collapse under the weight of this economic & public health crisis, unless the government steps in to create stability. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates COVID evictions will cost California $7-16 billion if we do not act now.
A Three-Part, People-First Solution
We call on Governor Newsom and every member of the state legislature to commit to three policy goals:
- Prohibit eviction and foreclosure for nonpayment of rent or mortgage accrued during a defined period of time during, and immediately following, the COVID-19 State of Emergency (the “COVID period”);
- Eliminate debt for renters who were unable to pay rent during the COVID period and provide mortgage cancellation, modification, forbearance, or relief;
- Compensate small landlords and non-profit housing operators who need assistance to mitigate the economic impact of COVID as necessary to ensure housing stability, with conditions sufficient to protect tenants and ensure safe and healthy housing.
California State Assembly Bills 15 & 16, sponsored by Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco), will extend and significantly improve AB 3088.
AB 15, the Tenant Stabilization Act of 2021, will:
- Extend the time period prohibiting evictions for inability to pay rent in full through 2021 and expanding just-cause provisions for eviction.
- Curb predatory forms of rent debt collection in court, curb predatory rental repayment agreements, prohibit late fees, and minimize the negative effects of debt for tenants applying for new housing.
- Allow city governments to pass stronger local protections if they so choose.
AB 16, the Tenant, Small Landlord, and Affordable Housing Provider Stabilization Act of 2021, will address longer-term economic impacts:
- Unlock funding for rent and mortgage relief, protecting impacted renters from crippling, years-long debt
- Support longer-term eviction & homelessness prevention services during and beyond the recovery period
- Ensure small landlords & nonprofit affordable housers can stay afloat while keeping their tenants in place
- Prevent harassment and exploitation of tenants who are not yet able to repay back rent
AB 15 is an urgency bill, and must pass with a 2/3 majority in the Assembly and State Senate before January 31 to take effect immediately and prevent an eviction cliff in February. AB 16 is a spot bill, and needs a simple majority to pass in the coming months.