Temporary Residential Eviction Moratorium for those Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you are threatened with eviction, renters are encouraged to contact Neighborhood Legal Services between the hours of 9a.m. to 5p.m. 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.
On March 19, 2020, the El Monte City Council (“City Council”) approved Urgency Ordinance No. 2971 immediately implementing a temporary, 60-day moratorium on residential evictions to protect renters at risk of eviction due to economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. The moratorium followed the City Council’s declaration of a local emergency on March 17, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium expires on its own terms on May 18, 2020 unless extended or earlier terminated.
Who Does the Moratorium Cover?
The moratorium covers residential renters who have suffered a substantial 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;
- Missing work due to a minor child’s school closure; or
- Other similarly-caused reasons resulting in a loss of income due to COVID-19
Under the moratorium, renters who satisfy one or more of these requirements are referred to as an “Affected Tenant”.
What Does the Moratorium Do?
The moratorium prevents a landlord from terminating a tenancy of a tenant who meets the definition of Affected Tenant due solely because of the Affected Tenant’s 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?
No. There is nothing in the text of the moratorium ordinance that relieves a tenant of his or her obligation to eventually pay unpaid back rent when the emergency conditions caused by the COVID-19 crisis ends. The moratorium is only intended to keep tenants from being evicted during the crisis period.
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 substantial 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; or (e) other similarly-caused reasons resulting in a loss of income. 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; or (c) notification from a school declaring a school closure related to COVID-19.
Possible Next Steps.
The City continues to evaluate the efficacy of the current moratorium and the impact of the current crisis on renters. To the end, at its upcoming meeting of April 7, 2020, the City Council will consider modifying the current moratorium by establishing a 120-day rent repayment grace period by which renters must become current in their accounts once the moratorium is ended. The City Council may also consider the need and feasibility of extending the moratorium to commercial tenants along with other refinements.