COVID-19 Non-Payment of Rent & Eviction Compliance

Your Guide to AB 832

QUICK GUIDE 

  • Send Notice of Rent Delinquency (Form 401) no later than July 31, 2021.
    • On or before July 31, 2021, a housing provider must provide, in at least 12-point type, specific notice to any resident who as of July 1, 2021, has not paid one or more rental payments that came due between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021.
    • This means owners and managers need to provide Form 401 to all residents with past-due rent between March 2020 and July 2021, no later than July 31, 2021. 
      • Notice may be provided via Personal service, substituted service, post and mail, or via U.S. mail. For U.S. mail, housing providers should mail no later than July 26. (This date includes the required additional five days allowance for mailing.) 
  • Use updated 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit (Form 403) effective July 1, 2021. Use for rental arrears due July 1 through September 30, 2021.
  • Include Declaration of COVID-19 Related Financial Distress, updated Form 299, with Form 403. (Note this form was updated as of June 30, 2021.)
  • Tenants must pay 25% of past due rent by September 30 to avoid eviction.
  • Modified 3-Day to Pay or Quit Process effective October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022.  
  • Court actions to recover COVID-19 rental debt may begin November 1, 2021. 
  • Rental Assistance payments will increase to cover 100%. 
  • If you have already received 80% of rental assistance you do not need to reapply to receive the remaining 20% rent owed.  The payment will be processed automatically.  

FULL DETAILS OF AB 832

AB 832 extends the existing state law regarding non-payment of rent as a result of COVID-19 and associated eviction protections. The existing process of delivering a 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit along with a Declaration form is extended through September 30, 2021 for rent due during the “Transition Period” (September 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021).  

EVICTION PROTECTIONS & NOTICING 
  • Extends, until September 30, 2021, COVID-19 unlawful detainer (eviction) protections established originally by AB 3088 and extended by SB 91.  
  • Provides that tenants who return a 15-day “pay or quit” notice to their landlord and attest to experiencing COVID-19 financial distress during the transition time period cannot be:
    • Found guilty of unlawful detainer for non-payment of rent or other financial obligations under the tenancy prior to October 1, 2021; and  
    • Subject to an unlawful detainer action for the transition time period rent if, by September 30, 2021, they pay 25% of missed rent and other financial obligations under the tenancy which accrued during that period.  
  • Allows unlawful detainer cases based on causes other than non-payment of rent or other financial obligations under the tenancy to be brought as long as the basis for terminating the tenancy is one of the following:  
    • An at-fault just cause for eviction, as defined in Civil Code Section 1946.2(b)(1); or  
    • A no-fault just cause for eviction, as defined in Civil Code Section 1946.2(b)(2), except that specified extra conditions apply to unlawful detainer cases based on intent to demolish or to substantially remodel the residential real property. 
    • PLEASE NOTE: San Diego County Ordinance in effect until August 15 prevents termination of tenancy and eviction unless a tenant is an “imminent health and safety threat.” Contact your legal counsel if you wish to pursue an Unlawful Detainer. Click here for a list of member attorneys.  
  • Extends preemption of local city and county non-payment eviction ordinances through March 31, 2022, continuing the policy of prohibiting changes to local non-payment eviction rules after August 19, 2020.  
  • Makes permanent the policy of providing limited access to the court file (i.e., “masking”) for Unlawful detainer cases filed between March 4, 2020, and September 30, 2021, based on alleged nonpayment of rent; and Actions to recover COVID-19 rental debt.
  • Extends, until October 1, 2021, the temporary prohibition on landlords selling or assigning a tenant’s COVID-19 rental debt and establishes a permanent prohibition on selling or assigning a tenant’s COVID-19 rental debt if the person’s household income was at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI) for the 2020 or 2021 calendar year.  

Effective October 1, 2021, under the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act, the content of notices demanding that a residential tenant (including a mobilehome park tenant) either pay COVID-19 recovery period rental debt or vacate the premises (3-Day to Pay or Quit), is altered in the following ways:  

  • The notice must provide tenants at least 3 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays) to pay the amount due or vacate.  
  • The notice must include specified language informing the tenant about how to apply for rental assistance, including a telephone number that the tenant may call and a website that the tenant may access in order to start an application for government rental assistance. 
  • The notice must include the following warning: “DO NOT DELAY! IF YOU DO NOT COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE WITHIN 15 BUSINESS DAYS, YOUR LANDLORD MAY BE ABLE TO SUE TO OBTAIN A COURT ORDER FOR YOUR EVICTION.”  
  • Requires any landlord who negotiated a rental agreement in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean to provide the tenant with the notice under 11) in that language. Also requires the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency to make available on its website an official translation of the notice into these languages, no later than September 15, 2021. 
  • Between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, the following procedures should be used for any unlawful detainer action for recovery of residential real property due to nonpayment of rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship:  
    • No summons may be issued unless a landlord files one of the following:  
      • A statement, under penalty of perjury, that the landlord completed an application for government rental assistance to cover the amount demanded from the tenants in the case, and that the application was denied; and (2) a copy of the final decision from the pertinent government rental assistance program denying the application. 
      • A statement, under penalty of perjury, verifying that all of the following are true:  
        • Before filing the complaint, the landlord submitted a completed application for rental assistance to the pertinent governmental rental assistance program to cover the rental debt demanded from the defendants in the case. A “completed application” is defined under the Health and Safety Code as one in which the applicant has provided all necessary contact information and documentation required for a government rental assistance program to initiate a review of the application for eligibility.  
        • 20 days have passed since the later of (1) the date the landlord submitted the application or (2) the date the landlord served the tenant with the three-day notice to pay rent or vacate that is the basis of the unlawful detainer case. 
        • The landlord has not received notice or obtained verification from the pertinent government rental assistance program indicating that the tenant has submitted a completed application for rental assistance to cover the rental debt demanded in the case.  
        • The landlord has received no communication from the tenant that the tenant has applied for government rental assistance to cover the rental debt demanded in the case. 
      • A statement, under penalty of perjury, that the rental debt demanded in the complaint accumulated under a tenancy that was initially established on or after October 1, 2021. A summons that issues on a complaint based on this statement is not subject to the requirements of the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act.  
  • The court may not issue a judgment or default judgment for unlawful detainer unless the court reviews the pleadings and evidence and finds that the requirements were satisfied. In any contested case, the landlord has the burden of proving these requirements were met.
  • For rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship that was incurred on or after October 1, 2021, and before March 31, 2022, a landlord must be compensated for all of the unpaid rent demanded in the notice that forms the basis of the complaint.  
  • For rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship that was incurred on or after September 1, 2020, and before September 30, 2021, a landlord must be provided 25% of the unpaid rent demanded in the notice that forms the basis of the complaint.  
  • Establishes a process for a tenant to avoid forfeiting their lease or rental agreement. The tenant may initiate this process by submitting verification to the court that a government rental assistance program has approved an application for rental assistance, corresponding to all or part of the rental debt demanded in an unlawful detainer complaint. The verification must be submitted before the property is restored to the landlord. In the case of partial rental assistance, the tenant must make the additional payments necessary to satisfy the full amount of rental debt demanded in the complaint. If, after a hearing, the court determines that the necessary conditions have been met, then it must grant the tenant’s application for relief, set aside any judgment in the case, and dismiss the case. 
  • Sunsets the provisions of the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act effective September 30, 2024.  
RENTAL ASSISTANCE 
  • Eliminates the requirement that a landlord must accept 80% payment and forgive the remaining 20% of a tenant’s rental debt as a condition of receiving assistance and instead provides 100% payment of an eligible tenant’s missed rent since April 1, 2020.
  • Increases rental assistance payments to tenants whose landlords refuse to participate in the program from the existing 25% to instead cover 100% of an eligible tenant’s missed rent since April 1, 2020.  
    • Specifies that, if payment is provided directly to a tenant, the tenant must provide the full amount of rental arrears to the landlord in full within 15 business days of receiving the funds. 
    • Provides that, if a tenant receiving payment does not provide payment in the timeline specified, the landlord may charge a late fee not to exceed the amount charged for one late rental payment under the terms of the lease or rental agreement. Further specifies that failure to pay the late fee shall not be grounds for an unlawful detainer.  
  • Automatically applies the 100% payment provisions to tenants and landlords who already received rental assistance funds.  
  • Allows rental assistance payments to cover rent debt in situations where a tenant no longer occupies the residential unit and prioritizes the provision of such payments to cases where the tenant’s landlord agrees to participate and receive payment.  
  • Requires all rental assistance programs, by September 15, 2021, to include the capacity to provide landlords, tenants, and the courts with specified information about rental assistance applications.  
DEFINITIONS
  • “Rental debt” means unpaid rent or other unpaid financial obligation of a tenant that has come due.  
  • “COVID-19 rental debt” means unpaid rent or any other unpaid financial obligation under a tenancy that came due between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021. 
  • “COVID-19 recovery period rental debt” means rental debt of a tenant that came due between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.  
  • “Rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship” means COVID-19 rental debt, COVID-19 recovery period rental debt, or a combination of both, if it accumulated during a tenancy initially established before October 1, 2021. For purposes of this definition, a tenancy is deemed to have been initially established when the tenant first lawfully occupied the premises.  
  • “Government rental assistance program” means any rental assistance program authorized pursuant to the Health and Safety Code provisions that establish the State Rental Assistance Program.  
  • “Pertinent government rental assistance program” means a government rental assistance program for the city, county, or city and county in which the property at issue is located.  
  • “Approved application” means an application for rental assistance for which a government rental assistance program has verified the applicant’s eligibility, and the requested funds have been obligated to be paid to the applicant.  
  • “Final decision” means that a government rental assistance program has made either of the following determinations regarding an application for rental assistance: the application is an approved application, or the application has been denied for any of the following three reasons:
    • The tenant is not eligible for government rental assistance. 
    • The government rental assistance program no longer has sufficient rental assistance funds to approve the application. 
    • The application remains incomplete for 15 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays) after the landlord properly completed the portion of the application that was the landlord’s responsibility, due to the tenant’s failure to properly complete the portion of the application that is the tenant’s responsibility.
    • The following outcomes are excluded from the definition of “final decision”:
      • Rejection of an application as either incomplete or improperly completed by the landlord. 
      • Notification that an application is temporarily pending further action by the government rental assistance program or the applicant. 
      • Notification that the landlord applied to the wrong government rental assistance program for the property or rental debt at issue. 

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