Evicting a tenant in California has never been easy, and now it’s even more complicated. The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 was signed into law at the end of August, and it makes eviction for nonpayment nearly impossible for California rental property owners.
River Drive Properties provides effective and professional property management services in Merced and the surrounding areas including Fresno, Modesto, and Turlock. We have extensive experience with both single-family homes and multifamily properties.
We know this is difficult, especially when you have your own financial obligations from which you have no relief. The best thing you can do is to establish and maintain good working relationships with your tenants. If they run into trouble and can’t pay the rent, work out a payment plan or arrangement if you can. Otherwise, it will take some time to remove that non-paying tenant.
COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020
This law prevents California landlords from evicting a resident for non-payment of rent or other charges that came due between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, if the resident submits a written declaration to their landlord that their financial status has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When you have a high-income resident, you can ask for documentation to prove their financial hardship and how it’s related to COVID-19. There’s a specific procedure you need to follow, however, so don’t ask for the documentation without first consulting a property manager or an attorney.
For unpaid rent that was due between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, you are still prohibited from evicting a tenant as long as your tenant does these two things:
- Your resident must provide a declaration stating their finances have been negatively affected by the pandemic.
- Your resident must pay 25 percent of the total rent due between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021 by January 31, 2021.
That 25 percent requirement isn’t much, but it at least gives you some income from the tenants who have refused to work with you on paying what they can.
Communication Requirements for California Landlords
As a landlord, you’ll need to provide an informational notice about this new law as of September 1, 2020, to any of your residents who recently missed a payment or who miss a payment between March 1 and August 31, 2020.
If you believe you still have standing to move forward with an eviction, you must provide a 15-day notice before you evict for any unpaid rent or other charges due between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021. As with any court proceeding, your 15-day period does not include Saturdays, Sundays, or judicial holidays.
California Just Cause Evictions
The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 also extends the just-cause eviction protections that were already established under AB 1482 until February 1, 2021. Three specific things must be noted when it comes to just-cause evictions:
- Eviction for demolition or “substantial rehabilitation” is only permitted if a landlord needs to comply with habitability and safety laws.
- Unlawful detainers for nonpayment of rent, regardless of when they’re due, are not permitted for time periods prior to October 5, 2020.
- You cannot file an unlawful detainer action on unpaid rent from September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021 against any resident who claims financial injury due to the COVID-19 pandemic until February 1, 2021.
Work with Your Merced Tenants
It’s more important than ever that landlords communicate with their tenants or their property managers. This is an unprecedented situation, and we don’t know when you will have the full power to evict non-paying tenants again.
If your tenant tells you that they have lost their job or had their hours or salary reduced, talk about what they can do. Good tenants will be ready to compromise with you and come to some kind of agreement so that they can avoid being evicted later. No one wants to lose their home, and if you can work with your tenants to get a payment plan or some partial rent established, you’ll be in a much stronger position.
We invite any landlord struggling with this situation to contact us at River Drive Properties. We’ll go over your options and talk about how to work out the best possible result.