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 the pandemic, the Board adopted a series of permanent protections for residential tenants and mobilehome space renters in the unincorporated areas of the County, protecting hundreds of thousands of tenants who previously had little protection from significant rent increases, landlord harassment, etc. As we implement this phase-out plan, the County should simultaneously examine our existing permanent protections to determine whether changes and/or additions should be made based on lessons learned over the past two years. Additionally, many incorporated cities that do not have permanent protections and that have relied on the County’s emergency COVID-19 protections have expressed interest in adopting their own. The County should also explore opportunities to share these lessons learned and provide guidance and technical assistance to interested incorporated cities within the County.


The current unprecedented spike in the number of confirmed cases of the

COVID-19 virus makes it clear that we are not yet out of the pandemic. Adopting the

first two phases of the plan, which extends some of our local emergency residential

protections allowable under State law, while slowly beginning to lift others, is a balanced

approach to protecting the health and welfare of vulnerable tenants while also providing

thoughtful relief to impacted property owners.


WE, THEREFORE, MOVE that the Board of Supervisors:


1. Approve and direct the Chair of the Board to execute the attached Resolution,

approved as to form by County Counsel, further amending and restating the

Resolution to implement Phase I and Phase II as detailed below:


a. 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 shall be extended through May 31,

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

protections shall 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 shall be able to

self-certify financial hardship in order to establish an affirmative defense in

unlawful detainer actions. The County shall preserve 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, as stated in the Resolution. Commercial eviction protections for

nonpayment of rent shall expire on January 31, 2022, due to a reinstated

State law preemption concerning commercial tenancies.


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

tenants and mobilehome space renters shall be phased out beginning on

June 1, 2022. The purchase date requirement for owner move-ins will be

removed; 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

will be lifted. Evictions for denying entry to a landlord shall resume, except

when such attempted entries constitute harassment. Eviction protections for

nuisance, unauthorized occupants or pets shall remain. The rent increase

freeze currently in place for residential properties in the unincorporated areas

shall be extended. Eviction protections shall 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, amended to apply to households who self certify their income levels to be at 80 percent AMI or below. The County shall

preserve 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, as stated in the Resolution.


2. Direct DCBA, in coordination with CEO, LACDA, and in consultation with County

Counsel, to report back in 120 days with lessons learned during the pandemic

related to tenant protections, recommendations on opportunities to change or

strengthen the County's permanent tenant protections, and recommendations for

providing guidance and/or technical assistance to incorporated cities interested in

creating and adopting their own permanent tenant protections.


RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF THE COUNTY OF

LOS ANGELES FURTHER AMENDING AND RESTATING THE COUNTY OF

LOS ANGELES COVID-19 TENANT PROTECTIONS RESOLUTION

January 25, 2022

WHEREAS, on March 4, 2020, the Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of

Supervisors ("Board") proclaimed, pursuant to Chapter 2.68 of the Los Angeles County

Code, and the Board ratified that same day, the existence of a local emergency because

the County of Los Angeles ("County") is affected by a public calamity due to conditions of

disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons and property arising as a result of the

introduction of the novel coronavirus ("COVID-19") in Los Angeles County;


WHEREAS, also on March 4, 2020, the County Health Officer determined that

there is an imminent and proximate threat to the public health from the introduction of

COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, and concurrently declared a Local Health Emergency;

WHEREAS, ensuring that all people in the County continue to have access to

running water during this public health crisis will enable compliance with public health

guidelines advising people to regularly wash their hands, maintain access to clean

drinking water, help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and prevent or alleviate illness or

death due to the virus;


WHEREAS, ensuring that all customers in the County that receive power services

from Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company (collectively,

"Public Utilities") continue to have access to electricity so they are able to receive

important COVID-19 information, keep critical medical equipment functioning, and utilize

power, as needed, will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and prevent or alleviate

illness or death due to the virus;


WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, the Public Utilities announced that they will be

suspending service disconnections for nonpayment and waiving late fees, effective

immediately, for residential and business customers impacted by the COVID-19

emergency;


WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-28- 20

that authorizes local governments to halt evictions of renters, encourages financial

institutions to slow foreclosures, and protects renters and homeowners against utility

shutoffs for Californians affected by COVID-19;


WHEREAS, on March 19, 2020, the Chair of the Board issued an Executive Order

("Executive Order") that imposed a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment

of rent by residential or commercial tenants impacted by COVID-19, and other tenant

protections (formerly referred to as "Moratorium" now referred to as "Protections"),

commencing March 4, 2020, through May 31, 2020 (formerly referred to as "Moratorium

Period" now referred to as "Protections Period");