As coronavirus cases continue to surge across California and the U.S., Gov. Gavin Newsom gave local governments the authority to ban renter evictions through the end of September. The executive order allows California cities and counties to prevent landlords from evicting their tenants until September 30 at this time – but they must choose to do so for the protection to take effect.
In LA, for example, local officials could potentially lift the Los Angeles County freeze on evictions as soon as August 14, putting renters at risk of receiving unlawful detainer notices. Essentially, landlords can start filing lawsuits to evict their tenants who are unable to make rent due to the virus.
According to a recent study by UCLA, roughly 365,000 renter households in LA are at a significant risk of becoming homeless unless elected officials take swift and immediate action. Without any new measures to help renters keep their homes, those who have lost their job or income due to the pandemic will likely have great difficulty finding a place to live.
The study examined 599,000 California workers who lost their jobs and are not getting unemployment checks. Associated with these workers are 558,000 children.
What can renters do if more protections aren’t offered?
If you find yourself unable to pay your rent when your local eviction protections expire, you can take comfort knowing the case cannot move forward until at least 90 days after the state of emergency ends. In the meantime, some helpful steps you can take include:
- Communicate to your landlord in writing before your rent is due that you cannot pay all or some of the rent. If your county does extend eviction protections in the future, this will help preserve your rights.
- Collect documentation of how the pandemic has affected your income, such as with a layoff notice, medical bills, or pay stubs.
- Offer to negotiate with your landlord and keep the lines of communication open.
If your landlord serves you with court documents, you must speak with an attorney immediately to understand your rights during this trying time.