Protections Under California’s Extended Eviction Moratorium Impact Rent Default Notices Beyond Sept. 30, 2021
On June 28, 2021 Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 832, which extended California’s eviction moratorium through September 30, 2021.
Much of the publicity surrounding AB 832 focused on the extension of the deadline—from June 30, 2021 to September 30, 2021—for tenants, who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 financial distress, to pay 25 percent of the unpaid rent. However, there are other provisions in the Bill that modify the procedure for demanding unpaid rent and requirements for filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit after September 30, 2021.
AB 832 adds the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act, which requires modifications to a notice to pay rent or quit demanding “COVID-19 recovery period rental debt,” which is defined as “rental debt of a tenant under a tenancy that came due between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.” A notice demanding COVID-19 recovery period rental debt must include the following information:
- The amount of rent demanded and the date each amount became due.
- The telephone number and internet website address of the pertinent government rental assistance program.
- The following bold text in at least 12-point font:
IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA – YOU MUST TAKE ACTION TO AVOID AN EVICTION: As part of the state’s COVID-19 relief plan, money has been set aside to help renters who have fallen behind on rent or utility payments.
If you cannot pay the amount demanded in this notice, YOU SHOULD COMPLETE A RENTAL ASSISTANCE APPLICATION IMMEDIATELY! It is free and simple to apply. Citizenship or immigration status does not matter.
DO NOT DELAY! IF YOU DO NOT COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE WITHIN 15 BUSINESS DAYS, YOUR LANDLORD MAY BE ABLE TO SUE TO OBTAIN A COURT ORDER FOR YOUR EVICTION.
You can start your application by calling 1-833-430-2122 or visiting http://housingiskey.com.
A notice demanding payment of COVID-19 recovery period rental debt that does not comply with these new requirements is not sufficient to establish a cause of action for unlawful detainer or a basis for default judgment.
In addition to the modifications to a notice to pay rent or quit, the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act also imposes additional requirements on a landlord who seeks to recover possession of property from a tenant who failed to pay rent due to COVID-19 hardship. The Act prohibits a court from issuing a summons on a complaint for unlawful detainer that seeks possession of residential property based on nonpayment of rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship unless the plaintiff files certain statements, under penalty of perjury, regarding the landlord’s attempt to obtain government rental assistance to cover the unpaid rent. The specifics of the verified statements are set forth in Section 1179.11 of Act.
While AB 832 extends until September 30, 2021 the deadline for tenants affected by COVID-19 to pay unpaid rent, the Bill will impact demands for payment of rent, and unlawful detainer actions based on unpaid rent, well beyond this new deadline. Landlords should carefully review AB 832 to see how it may affect their unique situation.
Nicholas Kanter is a business litigation attorney.
This information provides an overview of a specific developing situation. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact or situation.