Community Update from the City Manager: COVID19 Eviction Moratorium

At its meeting of April 7, 2020, the El Monte City (“City Council”) unanimously approved an Urgency Ordinance revising the eviction moratorium it previously approved at its meeting of March 19, 2020.  The revised moratorium:

  1. Expands eviction protections to certain commercial tenants who are businesses that (a) are essentially El Monte-based; and (b) were required to cease all operations by order of the County because they do not qualify as Essential Businesses (e.g., gyms and fitness centers, hair and nail salons, clothing stores, car wash businesses, theaters etc.);
  2. Revises the term of the moratorium to coincide with the term of the Statewide moratorium established by Executive Order of the Governor.  (The Statewide order is currently set to expire on May 31, 2020. However, if the Governor extends the term of the Statewide moratorium, the City’s moratorium would extend to whatever new date the Statewide moratorium is extended to).
  3. Establishes a 120 day back-rent grace period for rent that became due but was not paid by eligible residential or commercial tenants during the moratorium term. During the 120-day grace period, protected tenants will continue to receive the protections afforded under the moratorium as to the payment of rent that became due during the moratorium and Landlords may not assess late fees or other similar charges for such rent.
  4. It extends relief to residential tenants who cannot work because they must care for a household member or family member who is sick with COVID-19.
  5. Repeals, replaces and supersedes the March 19, 2020 Urgency Ordinance that only applied to residential tenants. (It should be noted that the City Council also tabled approval of a parallel non-urgency moratorium ordinance that was first presented on March 23, 2020 but which was also limited to residential tenants only).

What remains the same?

In addition to the changes spelled-out above, the revised moratorium continues to cover residential tenants who have suffered a loss of income caused by any one of the following circumstances specifically caused by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis:

  • Loss of a job;
  • A reduction of work hours;
  • The closure of an employer’s business; and
  • Missing work due to a minor child’s school closure.

The moratorium also continues to prevent a landlord from terminating a tenancy of a tenant who satisfies the eligibility criteria for relief solely due to the non-payment of rent.  Note, that landlords may still terminate the tenancy for legal or contractual reasons that are unrelated to a tenant’s inability to pay rent because of the COVID-19 crisis.  

Is the rent tenants owe but do not pay during the moratorium forgiven or waived? 

Once again: No.  The rent that is not paid during the moratorium period must be paid by the tenant in full no later than 120 days from the date the moratorium expires. Note also that new rent sums that become due after the expiration of the moratorium ends but during the 120-day grace period must be paid with the normal deadline for the payment of rent specified in the tenant’s lease.

How Does the Protection Work?

To assert protections of the eviction moratorium, an Affected Tenant must first provide his or her landlord with written documentation or other objectively verifiable information establishing that the Affected Tenant has, as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and governmental orders issued in response to the pandemic, suffered a loss of income caused by:  (a) job loss; (b) a reduction of compensated hours of work; (c) work closure; (d) missing work due to a minor child’s school closure; (e) missing work to care for a household or family member who is sick with COVID-19 OR (f) in the case of commercial tenants, because they were forced to cease operations. It is important that tenants document their efforts to apprise the landlord of their circumstances.  The tenant should retain copies of any materials or information provided to the landlord.

What Sort of Proof Can a Tenant Provide to a Landlord?

The following types of documents can be used to prove that you are eligible for relief under the moratorium:  (a) a letter from the tenant’s employer citing COVID-19 as a reason for reduced work hours or termination; (b) employer paycheck stubs to demonstrate substantial reductions in work hours; (c) notification from a school declaring a school closure related to COVID-19; or (d) in the case of eligible commercial tenants, copies of any governmental order requiring the business to shut down etc.

Community Resources

If you are threatened with eviction, residential renters are encouraged to contact Neighborhood Legal Services between the hours of 9:00AM to 5:00PM Monday through Friday at 1-800-433-6251 (leave a voicemail message and your call will be returned) or 626-307-3647.  Also, to see if you may be eligible for rental assistance contact the Volunteers of America Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00a.m. and 5:00p.m. at (626) 442-4357.