Local governments in both Northern and Southern California were hard at work this past week considering numerous policies with direct impacts on rental housing providers.

The boards of supervisors in both Alameda and Sonoma counties deferred action on proposals to expand their COVID-19 tenant protections.

Alameda County has been considering an ordinance to halt nearly all evictions, allow tenants up to one year to repay rent deferred during the pandemic, and prohibit landlords from evicting tenants who fail to pay back rent once the eviction moratorium is lifted.

The California Apartment Association raised numerous legal objections to the Alameda proposal in this letter, which outlined the risks associated with the proposals. It is likely the Board of Supervisors will return on June 9 to discuss renter protections.

In Sonoma County, officials were set to discuss ways to enhance their eviction moratorium. After hearing opposition from CAA members, however, they decided at the last minute to defer the discussion to a later date.

In Southern California, the city of Los Angeles delayed voting on a proposed expansion of its “just cause” eviction policies. Under the proposal, the just-cause provisions in the city’s rent control ordinance would apply to all housing in the city, including condos and single-family homes. The postponement of the vote came after CAA members made their opposition clear to the City Council’s housing committee. Read full story

In Orange County, the city of Santa Ana opted to allow its rent-increase freeze to lapse Sunday, May 31. That decision came after CAA repeatedly warned that the city’s rent freeze was unlawful. Santa Ana did, however, keep its eviction restrictions in place.

In response to what appeared to be an isolated incident at one rental property, a member of the Fullerton City Council proposed a rent-increase freeze for all rentals in the city. The council voted 3-2 against the measure after hearing about the various legal issues of the proposal and receiving an analysis from CAA.

In San Diego, where numerous residents have had to forgo rent payments due to lost income, the City Council approved a rent-relief framework supported by CAA. Under the framework, the city in the coming weeks is expected to allocate millions of dollars from the federal CARES Act to a rent-relief program, helping ensure that lower-income San Diego residents can remain in their homes.

And back in the South Bay, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors extended its eviction moratorium, which provides impacted tenants up to 12 months to repay their deferred rent. CAA, however, ensured that the ordinance include a requirement that tenants pay at least 50% of the deferred rent within six months of the moratorium lifting.

CAA continues to argue that any tenant protections related to the pandemic must be narrowly targeted to protecting renters financially impacted by COVID-19, clearly indicate that back rent must still be paid, and only be in effect while the government limits people from working.

“The association recognizes that providing stability is critical to both renters and rental housing providers,” commented Joshua Howard, executive vice president of local public affairs. “While many local governments have passed laws to protect tenants who cannot pay their rent, cities and counties need to offer additional financial assistance to renters. Local governments should continue finding ways to re-prioritize their own budgets and allocate CARES Act funding with a clear focus on helping residents financially impacted by COVID-19 pay their deferred rent. Rental-assistance programs are the best way to help pay the deferred rent and provide stability to those renters who are recovering financially.”