A CAA-sponsored bill that would help landlords recover rent lost to the COVID-19 crisis — while also guarding tenants against mountains of rent debt — has passed its first hearing.

The Senate Housing Committee on Wednesday approved SB 1410 by Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, and Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, on a 10-0 vote.

“SB 1410 is critical to the financial security and well being of California’s renters who by no fault of their own, lost or had significant reductions in their incomes as a result of this pandemic,” Caballero told the committee.

Sen. Anna Caballero

The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program would apply to tenants who can demonstrate an inability to pay rent due to COVID-19. To qualify, their landlords also would need to agree to participate in the program and accept certain conditions.

The state of California would make direct rental payments to landlords for up to three months and cover 80% of rent that’s gone unpaid because of the pandemic.

To receive these dollars, landlords would need to agree to the following:

  • Not increasing rent for the unit for a specified period.
  • Not charging late fees for the past due rent paid by the program.
  • Not pursuing any remaining rent owed for the months paid by the program.

As eviction moratoria expire, SB 1410 would help keep struggling renters housed while also providing greater financial stability for rental property owners.

“We all know that eviction is a big concern once the courts open, and we desperately need to find dollars to help owners and tenants,” Caballero said. “Given that in the past two years that we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to try to house the homeless, the last thing we need now are hundreds of thousands of renters all over the state of California that become homeless because of this pandemic.”

While other rental-relief proposals are circulating at the Capitol, they have longer timetables and would take years to compensate landlords for lost rent.

“It’s the only state proposal that we know of that would bring rent money sooner rather than later,” Debra Carlton, CAA’s executive vice president of state public affairs, said of SB 1410. “If this bill does not go forward, there is nothing available for tenants and landlords at this time. This can’t be the answer.”