With the California Senate’s signing of SB91, protections for renters and landlords will be extended through at least June of this year. SB91 was signed into law on January 29 and it extends evection protections for tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19 that were established in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Primary to the bill is the extension of the eviction moratorium, which prevents tenants from eviction for nonpayment of rent by tenants who are experiencing a COVID-19 hardship. According to the wording of the original bill, if a tenant pays at least 25 percent or rent owed between September 2020 and June 2021, they are permanently protected from eviction for inability to pay full rent during the period. It would not eliminate the debt, however, as tenants would still owe the landlord all unpaid rent.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is available to households with incomes at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income. It prioritizes those households that are at or below 50 percent, as well as households that have been hampered by unemployment for at least 90 days prior to the time of submitting an application.

The program protects renters from eviction for non-payment due to COVID-19 hardships, but does allow for eviction if it is shown that is just cause unrelated to COVID-19 hardships.

Renters and landlords can apply for direct payments.

The State is set to administer $1.5 billion through either the State Rental Assistance program or through block grants. The program is putting an emphasis on outreach (on a multilingual front), as well as fraud prevention. Funding is also available to cover utilities.

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