Apr 29, 2020
Haeuser, Valluzzo & Piasta LLP
In response to the pandemic, various governmental bodies have acted to provide protections for residential and commercial tenants. There is a broad eviction moratorium in effect throughout the state as the Judicial Council of California issued an emergency rule effectively prohibiting evictions for 90 days after the lifting of the Shelter in Place requirements.
By way of background, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a COVID-19 Eviction Defense Ordinance formally referred to as Executive Order N-28-20. While the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors agreed with Gov. Newsom’s executive order last month to limit residential tenants from evictions due to economic impact of COVID-19, his gubernatorial power is limited. Then the Judicial Council issued its sweeping order.
Meanwhile, the Governor has requested banks and lenders within the State of California place a halt on foreclosures and evictions as well as that the CA Dept. of Business Oversight seek ways to work with financial institutions to look at possible alternatives to foreclosure and evictions.
With the current landscape now is an important time for both landlords and tenants to understand their options. Some think it might be wise for property owners/landlords to reach out to tenants to understand their position to stay ahead of any concerns.
As leases are at their very core contracts, there are many creative options available to work out a resolution for both parties. Deferred rental payments and extending the length of occupancy are frequently used as a common solution. In the case where a tenant desires to move, transparency with the landlord can help to find a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Tenants having difficulties paying rent should know there are abundant resources available at this time. Also, having in place a loss mitigation plan, is recommended such as extended payment procedures, etc.Whether fostered by gubernatorial administration or county supervisors, this delay is only temporary. At their meeting this past March, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors also set the date of June 2, 2020 to review the Ordinance to consider additional data and information about the availability of other assistance programs and community needs.
To clarify, landlords have no obligation to forego rent —many are working with their tenants to reach a solution to get through this time together.
Relief for landlords is available in the form of payment relief on mortgages, property tax penalty waivers. With respect to mortgage relief the terms of such relief need to be understood as some companies are offering it with balloon payments owing at the end of the short forbearance term. The California Apartment Association has a well thought out guide with additional resources:https://caanet.org/coronavirus-resources-for-navigating-the-outbreak
Property tax late payment waivers are in some cases decided on a case by case basis and it is advisable to also reach out to local electeds to advocate on behalf of such an application.
For those who need assistance with paying taxes help is available thru Community Action Partnership of Sonoma and United Way of Wine Country, see web site: https://unitedwaywinecountry.org Or, call: 707 528 - 4485.
Your local Legal Aide.
Season of Sharing and Community Action Partnership of Sonoma is accepting applications for assistance (with rent and loss of income) until June 30. While SOS and others are working to help those in need, they strongly recommend that tenants/renters keep up on payments as much as possible.
And, visit the Community of Action Partnership web site at:
https://www.capsonoma.org or call: 707 544-6911.
For help with paying of bills such as utilities, The Salvation Army of Santa Rosa is accepting applications by appointment only. Those applying must provide in writing to their landlord a declaration of why they can’t pay rent. Salvation Army notes that even if applicants receive the organization’s help, it is not a guarantee that the applicant (s) will be safeguarded from eviction proceedings. Call 707 542-0981 for details.
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