August 31, 2020 marked the last day of the annual legislative session in California, and lawmakers were busy pushing through a bill to provide statewide consistency on eviction protections for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19.
Governor Newsom signed AB 3088 in the final hours of the day, a bill that is intended to avoid a lapse in protection with the expiration of the Judicial Council’s suspension on eviction actions. While local eviction moratoriums will remain in effect until they expire, the new law sets the groundwork for more consistency (and hopefully less confusion) across the state.
AB 3088 Summary
- Applies to all residential rental tenants
- 3-day notice to pay rent or quit is now extended to 15-days (not counting weekends or holidays)
- For unpaid rent accrued between March 1 and August 31, 2020:
- Tenant cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent if they return a declaration of hardship within the 15-day period
- For unpaid rent accrued between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021:
- Tenant cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent if they return a declaration of hardship within the 15-day period AND pay at least 25% of the missed rent payments by January 31, 2021
- Beginning October 5, 2020, tenants who do not return a declaration of hardship to their landlords can be evicted
What about other types of evictions (nuisance, illegal activity, etc.)?
- Landlords can evict for reasons other than nonpayment of rent beginning September 2, 2020, but tenants will have new protections to ensure this is not done in retaliation for unpaid rent
- Statewide Just Cause for Eviction protections from the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 apply to all units until February 1, 2021
Do tenants need to provide any proof of hardship or just a declaration?
- Higher-income tenants (over $100K household income or over 130% of median household income) will have to provide documentation to support their declaration of hardship if their landlord requests it
Can landlords ever recover the unpaid rent?
- While the bill does not take the tenant off the hook for unpaid rent, it can only be recovered as a consumer debt in small claims court, which may be difficult
- Landlords can begin attempting to recover unpaid rent starting March 1, 2021
What happens to the local eviction moratoriums?
- Local moratoriums will remain in effect until their expiration dates, but cannot be renewed until February 1, 2021
- Local repayment periods will be overwritten by state law, requiring repayment begin by March 31, 2021 and complete by March 31, 2022
What else should landlords know?
- If tenants have missed rent payments between March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020, landlords must provide a specific notice to tenants informing them of their rights under this law by September 30, 2020
- Landlords must provide hardship declaration forms to tenants along with 15-day notice. This must be in the same language as the rental agreement.
- Additional penalties of $1,000 to $2,500 may be assessed to landlords who do not follow the process (until February 1, 2021).
- Certain anti-foreclosure protections from the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights are extended to small landlords (1-4 units, non-owner occupied)