SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — California renters and landlords facing hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic are the focus of a new effort by the state to clarify the state’s evictions laws and direct them to resources available.

The new outreach also includes a website, HousingIsKey.com, maintained by the California Department of Real Estate and designed to provides in order to help Californians stay in their homes or understand housing options during COVID-19 and beyond.

Newsom noted that a recent discussion with California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency officials over changes and guidelines announced by HUD and the CDC pointed out how complicated the subject had become.

“I quickly realized that I was not only confusing him, but I was confusing myself,” said Newsom. “This whole area of rental protections, the issue of evictions, can make your head spin. Particularly if you are someone who simply wants to know what the heck is going on and how can I avoid being evicted from my home because of the impact COVID-19 has had on my job.”

A statewide temporary ban by the state Judicial Council’s expired at midnight Tuesday. Tenant advocates said a last-minute bill passed by the state Legislature Monday — widely described as a stopgap measure that will almost certainly be revisited in early 2021 — will provide some bulwark against a flood of evictions, though not as much as they had hoped for.

Under the bill, Assembly Bill 3088, tenants who incurred rental debt from March through Aug. 31 for COVID-19-related reasons are protected from eviction but have to start paying a portion of their rent in September.

Tenants who attest under penalty of perjury that they have been impacted by COVID-19 have to pay at least 25 percent of rent they owe starting Sept. 1 and until Jan. 31, 2021.

If they don’t, they could be evicted starting in February. And in February, tenants have to start paying their full rent. Also, starting March 2021, landlords can sue in small claims court to try and recover any rent owed them dating from the start of the pandemic.

“Clearly COVID has had a profound impact and despite having some of the strongest renter protections in the nation that has not ameliorated the stress, the anxiety that millions and millions of renters and homeowners are facing, struggling clearly with this pandemic,” said Newsom.

Newsom also indicated that aside from the more than 5.4 million renters at risk losing their homes, small property owners being are foreclosed on because they can’t make the payments because their tenants can’t pay rent. The impact is also disproportionate to the African-America and Latino communities.

The governor said California’s eviction protections go farther that the new federal guidelines on tenant protections that last through the end of this year, and that all local ordinances and rules are not impacted by the federal guidelines that just came out nor what the state of California is doing.

Later this week, the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH) will launch a mobile and web-based app that will include a personalized, downloadable report that explains what protections or obligations apply under the new law by answering a few questions. The campaign will include targeted social media ads and digital materials in multiple languages to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

 

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