The California Apartment Association has demanded that any extension of the state’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium include assistance for landlords who have been required to provide housing while collecting little-to-no rent.

While California’s COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 is slated to expire Jan. 31, political headwinds make an extension a near certainty.

The details of that extension, however, are still under negotiation.

CAA this week sent a letter to the governor and legislative leadership and has urged its members to call their representatives with concerns and requests.

“While CAA does not object to a short extension of AB 3088, we implore you not to make wholesale changes to the statute that may encourage tenants not to pay the rent, especially when they can,” CAA’s letter to state elected leaders says. “We also ask that you help to ensure that the state and local governments distribute dollars to rental property owners quickly. Many owners have not received rent in nearly a year.”

At present, negotiations to extend tenant protections under AB 3088 are centered on two bills: Assembly Bill 15 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, would extend eviction protections under AB 3088 until the end of this year. Senate Bill 3, by Sens. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, and Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, would extend AB 3088 through March 2021.

CAA’s letter outlines several conditions for extending the moratorium.

  • Distribute federal rental aid quickly: It is imperative that state and local governments distribute these dollars without delay. CAA stands ready to help in that process.
  • Tenants must pay if they can: Do not create new standards that encourage tenants to withhold the rent.

“Many tenants have admitted to their landlords that they still have their jobs but are withholding all or a portion of the rent because they believe the law allows them to do so,” CAA’s letter continues.

  • Tenants cannot ignore landlords: Do not create new standards that encourage tenants to ignore rental property owners. Despite AB 3088’s requirement that tenants return a declaration about their inability to pay, many tenants have ignored the owner and have not responded.

“No other industry has been asked to provide a product or service for free for over a year,” says the association’s letter. “Tenants have been protected. It’s now time to help property owners who have done their part.”

  • Apply moratorium consistently: Continue the consistent statewide standard created with AB 3088, preempting additional local measures that could create a hodgepodge of hundreds of different tenant protections. Chiu’s proposal, AB 15, would eliminate the preemption now in AB 3088.
  • Address tenants who don’t qualify for federal assistance: Some tenants who are not paying the rent also fail to qualify for federal rental aid. A solution is needed for this situation.

“In these circumstances, rental property owners will continue without rent payments if we don’t find dollars to cover the rent,” CAA says.