Nine Big City Mayors Endorse COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Bill

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Support comes as Legislature moves into final weeks of legislative session

Sacramento, CA--Today nine mayors of many of California’s largest cities issued a letter endorsing an eviction and foreclosure prevention bill currently before the state legislature. Assembly Bill 1436 by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and 15 legislative co-authors would prevent evictions in the wake of COVID-19 and grant struggling property owners mortgage forbearance.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs all signed on to the letter in support of AB 1436.

“Without protections in place, hundreds of thousands of renters are at risk of eviction and homelessness,” the mayors noted in the letter. “Assembly Bill 1436 provides a path that balances renter and homeowner protections needed to ensure they can get back on their feet without the fear of losing their home.”

If enacted, AB 1436 would prevent the eviction of renters who missed rent payments during the “COVID-19 emergency period,” defined as ending 90 days after a state of emergency order is lifted or April 1, 2021, whichever occurs first. The bill then gives renters an additional 12 months from the COVID period before a landlord can seek a civil action to collect back rent owed from the COVID period, but those civil remedies would not include eviction. 

The bill also helps struggling borrowers with non-federally-backed mortgages to receive up to 12 months forbearance for properties with four units or less. Borrowers on properties with five or more units can request up to six months of forbearance. Forbearance can be requested until the end of the “COVID-19 emergency period.” 

Under AB 1436, both tenants and homeowners must attest that they experienced COVID-related hardships that prevented them from making rent or mortgage payments.

The bill encourages agreements between renters and landlords so that legal action is unnecessary, and renters can pay back their landlords if they are able to resolve the situation early. After the COVID period ends, renters must keep up with their current monthly rent and can be evicted for failing to pay current rent. 

Similarly, borrowers are not prohibited from making mortgage payments during the forbearance period if they choose, and they could face foreclosure if they do not resume payments once the forbearance period ends.

As COVID-19 continues to leave millions without income, renters and homeowners have been unable to keep up with rent and mortgage payments. A survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau between July 16-21 showed over 1.8 million borrowers in California reported “little to no confidence” in their ability to make the next month’s mortgage payment. The situation is even more dire for renters as 3.8 million renter households in California reported “little to no confidence” in their ability to pay rent in August.

Without legislative action, millions of Californians could be evicted or foreclosed on, leading to an unprecedented and catastrophic increase in homelessness. 

“I am deeply grateful that mayors across California recognize the looming threat of evictions and foreclosures in their communities,” said Assemblymembers Chiu. “To avoid a wave of mass displacement, increased homelessness, and COVID-19 spread, we must act and pass AB 1436.”

AB 1436 is the only bill currently moving in the Legislature to bring relief to tenants, homeowners, and small landlords. The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 18.

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