San Francisco's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to extend the pandemic-related eviction moratorium for residential tenants in the city past the July sunset timeframe that was initially approved in March. And a San Francisco lawmaker is introducing a similar statewide measure on Wednesday in Sacramento.
The new SF measure, sponsored by Supervisor Dean Preston, does not cancel or forgive rent payments, but it would turn back rent into consumer debt that a landlord would hope to collect at a later date. As Socketsite reports, the ordinance prohibits landlords from charging fees or interest on rent owed, and prohibits landlords from issuing eviction notices based on rent that went unpaid during the pandemic.
The ordinance was approved by a 10-1 majority, with only District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani voting against it. As 48 Hills reports, she raised concerns about the ordinance holding up in court, despite it having presumably been vetted by the City Attorney's Office.
Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who is a landlord herself, referred to evictions in situations like these as "lose-lose," because when an eviction notice is issued a tenant typically stops paying anyway, and they get to remain in a unit for months as a court sorts out the situation.
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Assemblyman David Chiu is introducing a bill on Wednesday, AB-1436, that provides an open-ended timeline in which tenants can pay back rent that is owed from the pandemic period. The measure is likely to face pushback, as the Chronicle reports, as landlords around the state have already suggested that a state moratorium on evictions put in place by Governor Newsom in late March amounted to a "taking" of property from private owners.
Newsom's moratorium expires on July 31, and California courts are likely to face a tidal wave of evictions starting in August. Chiu's bill would put that tidal wave off another 90 days, prohibiting landlords from issuing eviction notices based on rent owed during the period of emergency for that period of time.
"I don’t see any scenario where government comes to the full rescue of everyone who is suffering," says Chiu to the Chronicle.
It's not clear how many California tenants now owe back rent, but a U.S. Census Bureau survey found that 14 percent of renters in the state deferred or defaulted on their rent last month. With an estimated 17 million renters in the state, that would mean well over 2 million people could be facing eviction.
In the Bay Area, it may be less than 10 percent, according to a new survey. As the Mercury News reports, real estate data firm RealPage surveyed Bay Area renters and found that 9 out 10 made some form of rent payment in the first week of June.
"This was already a horrific situation," Chiu said. "We’re trying to provide a path for transitioning out of this COVID-19 crisis."
Photo: Chris Lawton