February 3, 2021 at 9:45 am PST | by Staff reports
Newsom signs legislation to extend eviction moratorium
California Governor Gavin Newsom (File Photo)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation to extend the state’s landmark eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021, protecting millions of Californians struggling as a result of the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Once again, California is leading the way by enacting the strongest eviction protections in the nation, which will provide relief for millions of Californians dealing with financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19,” said Newsom. “This law not only provides greatly needed support for tenants, but also provides relief to small property owners in need of assistance to pay for mortgages, thanks to $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funding.”

On Monday, Governor Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced an agreement on the legislation to extend the eviction moratorium established last year under AB 3088, which was set to expire at the end of the month.

“We know that we have more work to do and that we need to help the folks hurting in our communities understand how to access this critically-needed help,” said Atkins. “This is an important step. But it’s not the last step, and we will keep working on this issue so that no one has to walk this path alone.”

The legislation pauses evictions for tenants who declare under penalty of perjury an inability to pay all or part of the rent due to a COVID-related reason. Tenants are still responsible for paying unpaid amounts to property owners, but those unpaid amounts cannot be the basis for an eviction, even after the moratorium ends.

SB 91 establishes the State Rental Assistance Program to allocate the $2.6 billion in federal rental assistance California will receive. The program will target aid to income-qualified tenants most at-risk with unpaid back rent. Assistance will also be extended to property owners who agree to waive 20 percent of unpaid rent. By agreeing to this waiver, property owners will become eligible for 80 percent in rent reimbursements for amounts owed between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

The State Rental Assistance Program will begin accepting applications from property owners and tenants in March.

SB 91 prohibits the selling or assigning of rental debt that was accrued from March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 until the end of the moratorium. However, the prohibition is permanent with respect to the rental debt of people at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income who meet the eligibility requirements of the Rental Assistance Program.

Property owners or other housing providers are also prohibited from using COVID-19 related debt as a negative factor for evaluating a housing application, or as the basis for refusing to rent to an otherwise qualified tenant.

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