Editor’s Note: State and Federal guidelines and legislation are constantly changing regarding COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place order. For the latest information, resources, financial aid, and forms, visit www.sfaa.org or www.caanet.org/coronavirus.
COVID-19 Related Eviction Moratoria
Governor Gavin Newsom extended an executive order from March 16 that cleared the way for local governments to enact COVID-19 related eviction moratoria. The order will remain in effect through July 28. Most locally approved eviction moratoria were set to expire at the end of June. With that order now renewed, local eviction moratoria that were tied to the order also will remain in place.
While Newsom extended his March 16 executive order, he allowed a second executive order on evictions to lapse. This second order, made March 27, allowed COVID-19 affected tenants additional time to respond to unlawful detainer actions.
In early June, the Judicial Council was scheduled to vote on whether they should end their emergency rules prohibiting new unlawful detainers from being filed. The Council cancelled their vote, and indicated that they would instead like to see the state legislature and Governor come up with a policy solution.
As of the publishing of this article (in mid-June), the Judicial Council was considering lifting its ban on new evictions. The federal eviction moratorium for properties that are financed by federally backed mortgage loans or that participate in federal affordable housing programs, including properties with Section 8 housing vouchers, also remains in effect until late June.
In June, despite hearing from hundreds of SFAA members, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the COVID-19 Tenant Protection Ordinance, which makes permanent the city’s temporary moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19. While eviction is always a housing provider’s last resort, it’s an important part of enforcing a tenant’s obligation to pay rent. In prohibiting evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19, the ordinance would force housing providers to try to collect unpaid rent through a small claims court/civil action or through a collections agency, and the reality is that most landlords would never be able to recoup lost rent.
SFAA, the Coalition for Better Housing, and the San Francisco Association of Realtors are sponsoring a lawsuit against the ordinance. The lawsuit will be filed immediately once the ordinance gets approved into law.
For information on locally imposed eviction moratoria, visit sfaa.org or caanet.org.
Senate Bill 1410
A CAA-sponsored bill that would help landlords recover rent lost to the COVID-19 crisis—while also guarding tenants against mountains of rent debt—has passed its first hearing. The Senate Housing Committee on Wednesday approved SB 1410 by Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), on a 10-0 vote.
“SB 1410 is critical to the financial security and well being of California’s renters who by no fault of their own, lost or had significant reductions in their incomes as a result of this pandemic,” Caballero told the committee.
The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program would apply to tenants who can demonstrate an inability to pay rent due to COVID-19. To qualify, their landlords also would need to agree to participate in the program and accept certain conditions.
The state of California would make direct rental payments to landlords for up to three months and cover 80% of rent that’s gone unpaid because of the pandemic.
To receive these dollars, landlords would need to agree to the following:
Not increasing rent for the unit for a specified period.
Not charging late fees for the past due rent paid by the program.
Not pursuing any remaining rent owed for the months paid by the program.
As eviction moratoria expire, SB 1410 would help keep struggling renters housed while also providing greater financial stability for rental property owners.
“We all know that eviction is a big concern once the courts open, and we desperately need to find dollars to help owners and tenants,” Caballero said. “Given that in the past two years that we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to try to house the homeless, the last thing we need now are hundreds of thousands of renters all over the state of California that become homeless because of this pandemic.”
While other rental-relief proposals are circulating at the Capitol, they have longer timetables and would take years to compensate landlords for lost rent.
“It’s the only state proposal that we know of that would bring rent money sooner rather than later,” Debra Carlton, CAA’s executive vice president of state public affairs, said of SB 1410. “If this bill does not go forward, there is nothing available for tenants and landlords at this time. This can’t be the answer.”
The above content was provided by the California Apartment Association.
Assembly Bill 1938
Assembly Bill 1938—a bill that would ban Michael Weinstein from using money from his taxpayer-funded AIDS Healthcare Foundation to fund the Rental Affordability Act—has passed in the Assembly. The legislation would limit political spending of these funds to health care issues. AB 1938 was introduced by Assemblymembers Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Susan Eggman (D-Stockton); Senator Scott Wiener is the principal coauthor.
The measure, also dubbed Prop. 10 2.0, would weaken Costa Hawkins, allowing cities and counties to impose rent control however they choose—even below the rate of inflation—on buildings fifteen years or older.
Debra Carlton testified in support of the bill, saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic
has stretched the state’s health-care system to its limits, making it even more imperative for public health care dollars in the state to be spent now, and in the future, on health care. These dollars should go to patients—not be spent to influence or fund local and state ballot measures or unrelated litigation that
exacerbates the state’s continuing health crisis and housing crisis.”
California voters will decide whether or not to pass the Rental Affordability Act on the November ballot. CAA and SFAA are preparing another campaign to prevent radical rent control and vacancy control from becoming law and further exacerbating the state’s homelessness crisis.
The cost of the campaign battle will be around $70 million. Ultimately, the ask to fund the campaign is $100 per unit owned or managed; however, we know rental property owners are suffering losses due to COVID-19 and may not be able to contribute the full amount at this time. Anything helps though, so even small donations at this point will go a long way. Please go to www.SFRH.org or www.sfaa.org for additional information.
The SFAA 2020 lease is now available. For a hard copy or to gain online access to the SFAA 2020 lease, visit sfaa.org and select the “Resources” tab.
Annual SFAA Trade Show has been rescheduled to September 3, 2020 at the Fort Mason Center. Attendees will learn all about the latest trends, products and services in the multifamily housing industry. Consult with legal and management professionals, get to know service providers, improve your overall effectiveness at the free educational classes, and meet peers in the San Francisco rental property market. The event is free and open to the general public, so bring your friends and enjoy! For more information on the tradeshow or to become a sponsor, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SFAA Rent Forbearance Form and information on temporary rent reductions are available at www.sfaa.org.
SFAA classes will be available online during shelter-in-place. The San Francisco Apartment Association is happy to announce that current CCRM students can continue their education during the Shelter-in-Place right from home. We understand keeping up education is crucial and want to assist our members to stay up to date. Thus we will be setting up more webinars in the future. See the calendar on page 48 for a full list of classes.
The SFAA office will remain closed during the shelter-in-place mandate. However, SFAA staff is working round-the-clock to keep the nonprofit running. Timely payment of membership dues is necessary to help the association help you.
San Francisco Property Taxes
The San Francisco Property Tax deadline was extended to May 4. Taxpayers who have been unable to pay property taxes due to COVID-19 should fill out the penalty waiver form to request that late fees be waived. To access the penalty waiver form, visit sftreasurer.org, and select the “Business” tab.
Bills & Ballots
Keep up with ever-changing COVID-19 legislation and the quickly approaching 2020 election.