Coronavirus: Rent, eviction relief for Bay Area tenants

Struggling Bay Area tenants are getting more protections from
eviction and leniency on paying rent, as state and local lawmakers
worry the coronavirus pandemic will overwhelm out-of-work and sick
renters.

Layoffs and work slowdowns have left many tenants in a cash
crunch, but Santa Clara, Alameda and San Mateo counties this week
joined several Bay Area cities passing eviction moratoriums. The
county measures add another layer of protection for renters facing
medical bills for coronavirus treatment and loss of income and
unemployment as the state mandates workers stay home.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week granted cities and counties the
power to temporarily suspend evictions for tenants facing hardships
from the pandemic. Renter advocates urged the governor to extend a
statewide moratorium, but the governor has stopped short of a
sweeping edict.

On Wednesday, Newsom said the state reserved the right to impose
a California-wide ban, adding that such a measure was complicated.
 Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, also said he plans to
introduce a bill with Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco to
enhance renter protections.

The local and state measures come as the the number of
coronavirus cases increases, and rent payments come due for the
first time in the middle of the statewide shelter-in-place
emergency order.

As the pandemic has deepened, several Bay Area cities have
passed emergency restrictions on evictions, including San Jose,
Santa Clara, Palo Alto and Union City. County ordinances in San
Mateo and Santa Clara will be enforced unless cities pass more
strict guidelines protecting tenants.

Elected leaders and property owners stress the programs are
designed for hardship cases, and healthy, employed renters should
make their monthly payments. The ordinances allow for rent
deferrals, not cancellation, for those effected by the pandemic.
Tenants must also provide proof that they have been harmed.

In Santa Clara County, the moratorium covers every residential
and small business tenant, including those within city borders.
Tenants will have 120 days to pay back rent due to the emergency.
Tenants must be able to provide proof to landlords of lost income
or personal, medical expenses related to the coronavirus emergency.
The order went into effect immediately after approval by county
supervisors on Tuesday, and will last until May 31.

San Mateo County supervisors passed a similar order this week
for residents only, allowing struggling renters up to six months to
pay back rent.

The Alameda County regulations, passed unanimously by county
supervisors Tuesday, covers residents in rental homes and
apartments in the unincorporated sections of the city.

Michael Trujillo, staff attorney at the Law Foundation of
Silicon Valley, said tenant hotlines have been getting 100 calls an
hour this week. The nonprofit is hosting an online seminar
in English, Spanish and Vietnamese Friday with housing advocates at
SV@Home to answer questions on the moratoriums and other tenant
issues. “There’s a tremendous need right now,” Trujillo said.
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Landlords and property managers say they’re also making
arrangements with tenants on a case-by-case basis. Large corporate
landlords, including Irvine Company, Essex Property Trust and
Equity Residential have offered to work with cash-crunched tenants
on extended payment schedules, said Tom Bannon, CEO of the
California Apartment Association.

Some landlords report tenants simply dropping off keys and
saying they will no longer be able to afford their apartments,
Bannon said. “I don’t know where they’re going,” he
said.

Association members generally dislike eviction moratoriums, but
can accept short-term bans during the crisis, he said. Landlords
would also benefit if they were given extensions to make mortgage
payments. “The industry is uneasy, but we need certainty,”
Bannon said. “There’s no certainty right now.”

Smaller landlords also have been encouraging struggling tenants
to speak up. They also urge renters who have remained financially
healthy to pay rent — and give landlords more resources to extend
payment plans to struggling neighbors.

“We’re all in this together,” said Sid Lakireddy,
president of the California Rental Housing Association, which
represents smaller landlords. “Everybody has to do their
part.”

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Coronavirus: Rent, eviction relief for Bay Area tenants