Union City temporarily bans evictions due to coronavirus outbreak

UNION CITY — In a bid to help people stay in their homes and
protect businesses amid unprecedented coronavirus-forced shutdowns,
Union City leaders Tuesday adopted a temporary ban on evictions for
residential and commercial renters, joining some other cities
around the state which have taken similar action.

The ban was approved unanimously by the City Council at Tuesday
night’s meeting, went into effect immediately, and will last
until May 31, or until the expiration of local or state emergency
declarations, whichever is later, staff reports said.

It will protect any residential or commercial tenant from being
evicted for not paying their rent “where the failure to pay rent
is from income loss resulting from the coronavirus,” staff
reports said.

The ban on evictions will not waive rent payments, only delay
them, city staff said. After the end of the ban period, renters
will have 90 days “to pay any back-due rent.”

City leaders are taking advantage of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s

executive order
issued last week giving local governments the
authority to issue such temporary moratoriums on evictions.

Some tenant advocacy groups had criticized Newsom for not
mandating a statewide ban, instead leaving it to cities or counties
to put in piecemeal protections.

Some other cities around the Bay Area and state, including

Palo Alto
, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, have already passed
similar bans to help ensure people don’t lose their homes or
businesses during the statewide shelter-in-place orders, and as a
way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the
coronavirus.

Renters in Union City will need to notify their landlords within
10 days after their next rent payment is due that they won’t be
able to pay because of a coronavirus-related issue.

The first draft of the city ordinance would have allowed for 30
days after the next rent was due to notify a landlord, but the city
council shortened it to 10 days.

The Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County, a
lobbying group for landlords, wrote to city officials before the
meeting asking for the 30-day period to be shortened to 5 days.

The association also asked the city to require renters to pay
about 20 percent of any back-due rent by 45 days after the ban was
lifted, but the council rejected that suggestion, and noted
landlords would likely be able to receive federal assistance for
lost income due to coronavirus.

“That’s pretty tough,” Mayor Carol Durtra-Vernaci said at
the meeting about the association’s suggestion.

“Because if a family isn’t able to pay their rent because
they haven’t been working, and to get caught up, especially if
the landlords are going to be able to have relief from the federal
government, I think 90 days is fine.”

Other cities’ bans, including
Los Angeles
, give tenants more time to pay back-due rent than
Union City’s.

City staff reports said some of the reasons a residential tenant
might not be able to pay rent include contracting the COVID-19
illness, caring for a household or family member with the disease,
as well as work closures and layoffs or reductions in hours.

Businesses may likely have to be closed altogether, or have a
major reduction in operating hours as well as consumer demand, all
leading to a loss of business income, staff reports said.

Any documents showing loss of income or any kind of medical
documentation that a tenant provides to a landlord as part of this
process must be held in “strict confidence,” City Attorney Kris
Kokotaylo told the council.

The documents cannot be used for any other purpose but
evaluating whether the tenant’s situation applies under the
ordinance, he said.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Union City temporarily bans evictions due to coronavirus outbreak