When San Jose’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium ends, tenants who’ve fallen behind on their rent due to the virus will have six months to pay half of their rent debt and another six months to cover the rest. 

The changes, secured by the California Apartment Association, came by a unanimous vote Tuesday night. CAA’s work is also expected to result in lower city fees for landlords.

The eviction moratorium does not suspend the obligation of rent but prohibits eviction of renters unable to pay their rent for as long as the eviction moratorium is in effect.

“Ensuring that residents have safe housing during this pandemic has been one of the highest priorities of the council since the beginning of this crisis,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “I am grateful to our community partners like the California Apartment Association who continue to work with us for viable solutions that work for owners and renters.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo

With the council’s action Tuesday, renters must pay back 50% of past due back rent within six months of the end of the eviction moratorium. The eviction moratorium was also extended another month to June 30, 2020. If the moratorium is not extended again, renters will have until Jan. 31, 2021 to pay back half of owed back rent, and the other half by June 30, 2021.

Without this extension, tenants whose income had decreased or disappeared due to the COVID-19 pandemic would have had until Dec. 31 to pay 100% of the past due accrued back rent, an impossibility for many who might have lost their jobs.

The proposal came as a result of extensive conversations with CAA, which also wanted to develop a realistic deadline and repayment period for back rent, the city said in a press release.

Anil Babbar

“CAA applauds Mayor Liccardo’s leadership to create a sense of stability for the rental housing market that also recognizes the challenging regulatory environment facing rental housing providers,” said Anil Babbar, vice president of public affairs for CAA in the San Jose area. “This plan creates a pathway for residents to become current on their rent and provides property owners with the reassurance they can meet their financial obligations to pay the mortgages, tax bills, vendors, and employees. CAA thanks the entire City Council for supporting the mayor’s proposal. Their unanimous vote is a testament to our community coming together during this difficult time.”

The council also will consider reducing city fees for landlords from 17% to 37%, depending on the fee.

“This measure mitigates the strain on our neighbors who are most vulnerable to the economic impact of COVID-19, giving folks a better chance to meet the challenging times in the months ahead,” Liccardo added.