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Updating the County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution to Extend, Clarify, and Gradually Phase


Motion By Sheila Kuehl & Hilda L. Solis

California Association of Realtors

January 26th, 2022 | 3:05 P.M.


In March 2020, in response to the serious health and economic impacts of the

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the County of Los Angeles adopted

emergency tenant protections creating affirmative defenses against evictions for

residential and commercial tenants in certain identified instances. Over the past 22

months, the Board of Supervisors (Board) has modified and extended these protections,

which are currently set to expire on January 31, 2022, providing timely and critical relief

to impacted tenants. The State has also taken multiple executive and legislative actions

since March 2020, to limit evictions of residential tenants.


In April 2020, the Judicial Council of California (JCC) instituted a prohibition on

the issuance of a summons or the entering of default judgments for eviction cases

brought against residential or commercial tenants, except for those instances where

tenant actions were causing serious health or safety impacts to tenants, units, or

communities.


On August 31, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 3088 into law

to provide, among other things, eviction protections to residential tenants who were unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 emergency, subject to certain requirements.

The protections offered under AB 3088 have been subsequently expanded and

extended by Senate Bill (SB) 91, AB 81, and AB 832 (collectively, State’s eviction

protections). The State's eviction protections preempt the County from reenacting or

establishing new local nonpayment of rent protections through March 31, 2022.


On September 1, 2020, the JCC lifted the prohibition on eviction filings, and on

October 1, 2021, state eviction protections for residential tenants expired. This has

allowed residential property owners to resume eviction filings with the Courts, and

tenants have been able to use State and local protections as affirmative defenses

against these filings.


The State manages Housing is Key, a federally funded rent relief program to

support property owners and income-qualified residential tenants who have struggled to

pay rent and bills due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic. As of January 11,

2022, the State has paid out over $915 million to 73,224 impacted County households,

representing 32% of the total number of households who have applied for relief in the

County. The rental assistance program has undoubtedly prevented thousands of

residents from losing their housing. However, the percentage of households who are

still awaiting funds is evidence that a good deal of work still needs to occur in order to

ensure that those most in need can receive support.


On June 22, 2021, the Board began methodically phasing out temporary eviction

protections by allowing limited owner move-ins to resume. On September 28, 2021, the

Board voted to further extend and phase out the residential and commercial protections

through January 31, 2022. During the September consideration, the Board also directed

the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), in conjunction with the Department of Consumer and

Business Affairs (DCBA), the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA), Department of Public Health (DPH), and County Counsel to report back with

recommendations for data sets, metrics and other pertinent criteria to evaluate further

extensions of the COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution (Resolution) and to develop

a phase-out plan.


While the County has made significant progress in vaccine distribution, COVID19 cases have surged once again, this time due to the Omicron variant, which emerged in late 2021. On January 9, 2022, the County recorded 45,584 new COVID-19 cases –its highest number of new cases in one day since the pandemic's onset in March 2020.

With the recent and dramatic increase in daily COVID-19 cases, the working group is

proposing that we preserve protections relating to: (1) anti-harassment and retaliation

for all commercial tenants, (2) prohibiting enforcement of personal guarantees for rent

incurred by commercial tenants with nine employees or fewer, and (3) requiring

landlords to provide notices of rights to commercial tenants with nine employees or

fewer, as stated in the Resolution, while allowing commercial eviction protections to

expire on January 31, 2022, due to a reinstated State law preemption concerning

commercial tenancies. With respect to residential tenants, the working group, consisting

of CEO, DCBA, LACDA, and County Counsel is using current economic, housing,

health, and programmatic data in developing a thoughtful three-phase plan for

extending and lifting residential protections beginning February 1, 2022, and continuing

through June 30, 2023. The three phases include:


Phase I (February 1 – May 31, 2022): Beginning February 1, 2022, current

residential tenant and mobilehome space renter protections set forth in the

COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution would be extended through May 31,

2022, where not preempted by State law. Effective April 1, 2022, eviction

protections would be reinstated for all residential tenants and mobilehome space renters, including creating an affirmative defense, related to nonpayment of rent

due to COVID-19 financial hardship for rent incurred on or after April 1, 2022. In

addition, such eligible households would be able to self-certify financial hardship

in order to establish an affirmative defense in unlawful detainer actions.

Protections relating to (1) anti-harassment and retaliation for all residential and

commercial tenants, (2) prohibiting enforcement of personal guarantees for rent

incurred by commercial tenants with nine employees or fewer, and (3) requiring

landlords to provide notices of rights to commercial tenants with nine employees

or fewer would be preserved, as stated in the Resolution, while allowing

commercial eviction protections to expire on January 31, 2022, due to a

reinstated State law preemption concerning commercial tenancies.


Phase II (June 1 – December 31, 2022): Specific protections for residential

tenants and mobilehome space renters would be phased out beginning June 1,

2022. Amendments would include removing the purchase date requirement for

owner move-ins; lifting the requirement that the residential tenant can only be

displaced if the tenant has not been impacted by COVID-19 to allow for owner

move-ins; and allowing evictions for denying entry to a landlord, except when

such attempted entries constitute harassment. Eviction protections for nuisance,

unauthorized occupants or pets would remain. Eviction protections would also

continue for residential tenants and mobilehome space renters, including creating

an affirmative defense, related to nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 financial

hardship for rent incurred on or after April 1, 2022, and are amended to apply to

households with income at 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI) or below.

Such eligible households would be able to self-certify their income level and

financial hardship in order to establish an affirmative defense in unlawful detainer

actions. Repayment of unpaid rent for those households who were unable to pay

rent in Phase 1 will be due on May 31, 2023, unless extended further by the

Board. Eligible households who self-certify income level and financial hardship

will have up to twelve (12) months from the expiration of the Phase II to repay

unpaid rent incurred during Phase 1 and/or Phase II, unless extended by the

Board to Phase III. Lastly, the rent increase freeze currently in place for

residential properties in the unincorporated areas would be extended. Protections

relating to (1) anti-harassment and retaliation for all residential and commercial

tenants would be preserved, (2) prohibiting enforcement of personal guarantees

for rent incurred by commercial tenants with nine employees or fewer, and (3)

requiring landlords to provide notices of rights to commercial tenants with nine

employees or fewer would be preserved, as stated in the Resolution.


Phase III (January 1 – June 30, 2023): Eviction protections, including self certification, for residential tenants and mobilehome space renters earning 80

percent AMI or below would continue. All other eviction protections for residential

tenants would be lifted, unless the Board considers options for extending eviction

protections for tenants who have had to house unauthorized occupants or pets.

Protections relating to (1) anti-harassment and retaliation for all commercial

tenants, (2) prohibiting enforcement of personal guarantees for rent incurred by

commercial tenants with nine employees or fewer, and (3) requiring landlords to

provide notices of rights to commercial tenants with nine employees or fewer would be preserved, as stated in the Resolution.


A thoughtful phase-out provides an opportunity for the County to consider lessons learned over the past 22 months and provides recommendations for the Board to consider related to tenant protections to create a healthier housing market post pandemic than that which existed before it began. Prior to the start of