The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of different law changes and amendments to help people cope with the hardships it poses. One of these laws passed in California is Assembly Bill 832. It is an amendment of the most recent Senate Bill, 91 COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act. With a few changes to SB 91, the AB-832 extends most of the provisions on the previous law along with a few minor additions.
So what does the AB-832 mean for you as a landlord? Under what circumstances can you ask a tenant to evict under this new law?
What is AB-832?
The AB-832 is an extension of California’s eviction moratorium, signed by the Governor of California on June 28, 2021. It comes as an amendment of the previous law, SB 91. The AB-832 deals with financial distress faced by both landlords and tenants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new legislation extends the broad eviction moratorium for residential tenants who have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The original legislation, SB 19, was supposed to expire on June 30, 2021. AB832 extends this date to September 30, 2021, so traditional evictions will not be allowed until October 1, 2021, assuming that the legislature doesn’t extend it again.
The SB 91 offered a Rental Assistance Program aimed at helping landlords and tenants who have suffered from financial hardships during the past year. Under this program, the landlord or tenant could apply to the State to pay up to 80% of their unpaid back rent starting from April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021. In exchange, the landlord is required to forgive the remaining 20% that the tenant owes for that period.
With AB-832, this program has been expanded to cover 100% of the back rent. This means that if your qualified tenant owes you back rent, the State will pay the landlord 100% of the amount instead of the 80% provided earlier. It is also required that before you start an eviction for non-payment, you as a landlord must apply for this rental assistance.
What was covered by SB 91?
To give you an idea of what remains the same and what changes with this new AB-832, let us first find out what key points were covered by SB 91.
- It extended the tenant and landlord protection provisions under AB3088
- It included the same tenant eligibility rules as AB3088 – declaration of financial hardship, 25% of monthly rent paid, and the debt is accrued but eviction on this basis was prohibited.
- Rental assistance for low-income households below 80% AMI, prioritizing those below 50% AMI.
- Landlords compensated for 80% of unpaid rent between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.
- Landlords choosing not to participate in the program but belonging to eligible households could still apply to the State for payment of 25% of back rent owed.
What has changed with AB-832?
Most of the key provisions under the SB 91 are also kept consistent in the AB-832. Some of the key points of AB-832 highlighted by the State include –
- A landlord cannot interrupt or terminate the occupancy of a tenant due to non-payment of rent if the tenant has declared COVID-19 financial distress.
- Violation of this clause can result in a penalty of a minimum of $1,000 and up to $2,500. The AB832 extends the imposition of these damages up to October 1, 2021.
- The AB832 also extended the prohibition on selling or assigning unpaid rental debt during the pandemic up to September 30, 2021.
- The bill requires any mortgage servicer denying a forbearance request to a homeowner to provide a written notice stating the specific reasons why the forbearance was not provided to the borrower. This is valid up to December 1, 2021.
- A landlord is also eligible to receive from the State 100% back rent owed by the tenant between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, under the Rental Assistance Program.
- Any applications to the small claims courts by landlords seeking unpaid back rent will not be entertained until November 1, 2021.
- Landlords must apply for funding under the State Rental Assistance Program before suing a tenant for non-payment of rent. If they have been denied assistance, valid proof of the denial must be presented.
- Eviction of tenants due to causes other than non-payment of rent or financial obligations may be acceptable only if the tenant is at-fault.
- A landlord may also be able to bring an Unlawful Detainer Case against a tenant with a no-fault just cause for eviction as per Civil Code Section 1946.2(b)(2). This, however, does not include unlawful detainer cases with an intent to demolish or substantially remodel the residential property.
Apart from these changes, there are some minor amendments to the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act, effective from October 1, 2021. Under this act, the landlord can serve a notice to the tenant to either pay their COVID-19 recovery period rental debt or vacate the premises. The content of the notice must include the following under the AB832 –
- The notice must ask the tenant to provide the declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress
- The notice must provide at least 3 days time (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and judicial holidays) to pay their rental debt or vacate the property.
- The notice must inform the tenant on how to apply for rental assistance from the Government.
- The notice must warn the tenant that a delay in applying for rental assistance beyond 15 business days from the date the notice is served. This empowers the landlord to obtain a court order for their eviction.
- Landlords are required to inform their tenants that at least 25% of the rental debt has to be paid before September 30, 2021.
A tenant may avoid forfeiture of their rental agreement by submitting proof at the court that a government rental assistance program has approved their application. They must be able to prove that they will be able to pay in full or in part the rental debt demanded in an unlawful detainer complaint. In the case of partial rental assistance, the tenant has to pay the remaining debt to satisfy the full amount demanded in the complaint.
These are just some of the key points that could be of importance to you, but there is a lot more to know about the AB832.
How Express Evictions can help
The new mandate of AB-832 makes it more difficult for landlords to ask tenants to vacate their premises due to non-payment of rent. While there are assistance programs in place, there may be cases where tenants may take undue advantage of these provisions.
We, at Expert Evictions, understand that it is not an easy task for landlords to carry out the eviction process smoothly. And given the current circumstances and the AB-832, it is going to be all the more troublesome. Our Eviction Lawyers and general advice in dealing with the eviction process in California are just what you need at this time.
With years of experience in Landlord-Tenant Law, Real Estate Law, and Unlawful Detainer Lawsuits, we have been able to help hundreds of clients make better decisions and carry out fast evictions.
Express evictions can bring along the knowledge and expertise you need to carry out an eviction without violating any of the provisions under AB 832. We look at every possible way to solve your eviction problems fast, staying within the boundaries of the law.
If you are looking for an experience Eviction Attorney to help you better understand your rights and privileges under the AB832, get in touch with us today.