California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins speaks to union workers on election day. Photo by Chris Stone

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders announced a deal Friday to extend the statewide eviction moratorium for three months to Sept. 30.

The agreement, to be implemented via Assembly Bill 832, also increases payments to eligible tenants of up to 100% of past-due rent to reimburse their landlords. The moratorium had been set to end June 30.

Financing will come via $5 billion in federal rental assistance to help the state’s tenants and small landlords and protect vulnerable households from eviction as the coronavirus pandemic ends.

“California is coming roaring back from the pandemic, but the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to disproportionately impact so many low-income Californians, tenants and small landlords alike. That’s why I am thankful for today’s news from the Legislature — protecting low-income tenants with a longer eviction moratorium and paying down their back-rent and utility bills,” said Newsom.

Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins of San Diego described the agreement as “maximizing the federal funds available to help the most tenants and landlords possible.”

However, the deal still drew criticism from the California Rental Housing Association, which represents more than 20,000 landlords.

“The eviction moratorium has caused irreparable harm especially to rental housing providers who have been under severe financial distress for the past 16-plus months. The new budget deal continues that harm by extending the moratorium,” said Christine LaMarca, president of the association.

“While there is some recognition of this distress in the deal by providing 100% in rent assistance and requirements for the tenants to use the funds to pay rent, we are very concerned as to when this moratorium will actually end,” she said.

To receive payments, tenants must first pay at least 25% of what they owe by Sept. 30, sign a declaration that they have had economic hardship because of COVID-19, and earn 80% or less of the local area’s median income.

The bill extending the moratorium must still be voted on in the state Assembly and Senate, but with a Democratic super-majority is all but certain to pass.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.