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Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction. This is a summary of the current eviction law as it relates in Los Angeles County until May 30, 2020. In summary, all evictions both for residential and commercial are stopped if you can show an impact based on COVID-19 and if your specific city has not previously enacted an ordinance that addresses rent. You will need to repay any amounts owed within a 12 month period after May 30, 2020. Your specific jurisdiction may be different.

Procedural History. The relevant statutes are the following:

March 19, 2020: Los Angeles County ordered that unpaid rent will not lead to evictions for a period until May 31, 2020, for tenants that are in unincorporated portions of Los Angeles. https://kathrynbarger.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/19032020HP_MFP_M577143825.pdf. Tenants shall need to repay any amounts owed within a six-month period after May 31, 2020.

April 14, 2020: Expansion to the rent delay law. http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/145198.pdf#search=%22moratorium%20eviction%22. This expands the March 19, 2020 law to all jurisdictions in Los Angeles, unless there was a prior ordinance in place. This also expands the repayment period from six months to 12 months.

Evictions Based on Non-Payment of Rent. In summary, the answer is that until May 31, 2020, you will not be able to evict. Even after May 31, 2020, you cannot base an eviction based on monies owed from the time period before May 31, 2020. The tenant has 12 months to repay those amounts due. If the tenant owes money after May 31, 2020, most attorneys take the position that you are able to evict for rent owed after May 31, 2020.

Local Rules Control. If your local city has enacted an ordinance before April 14, 2020, that controls, even if the protection for tenants is less. The following cities have enacted local ordinances as of today's date which exempts them from Los Angeles County April 14, 2020 ordinance:

Residential & Commercial

Agoura Hills, Alhambra, Arcadia, Artesia, Baldwin Park, Beverly Hills, Burbank

Commerce, Duarte, El Monte (Non Essential Commercial), Gardena

Glendale, Hawaiian Gardens, Lawndale, Lomita, Long Beach, Los Angeles

Manhattan Beach, Maywood, Palmdale, Pasadena, Pico Rivera (City Council Agenda from 3/24/2020; page 18, item 9), Pomona, Redondo Beach

Rosemead, San Gabriel, Santa Clarita, South Gate, South Pasadena

Temple City, Whittier

Residential Only

Culver City, Inglewood, Monrovia, Santa Monica, West Hollywood

Commercial Only

Calabasas

You May Still be Controlled by Los Angeles County Ordinance Despite Believing You Live in a Specific City. Although your address may say that is a specific city, most cities have unincorporated. Those areas are controlled by Los Angeles County which means that the April 14 Los Angeles County rule controls, not your specific city. To find out if a property is in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, visit the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website: https://lavote.net/apps/precinctsmaps and select “District Map Look Up By Address”.

Triggering Event for Eviction Protection. Many tenants fail to understand that you must specific events so that you do not pay rent. Failure to do so does not allow you to receive eviction protections. For example, the March 16, 2020 rule states the following:

"For purposes of this Executive Order, 'financial impacts' means substantial loss of household income or loss of revenue or business for commercial tenants due to business closure, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, layoffs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses. A financial impact is "related to COVID-19" if it was a result of any of the following: (1) suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, or caring for a household or family member who is suspected or confirmed with COVID-19; (2) lay-off, loss of hours, or other income reduction resulting from business closure or other economic or employer impacts of COVID-19; (3) compliance with a recommendation from the County's Health Officer to stay home, self-quarantine, or avoid congregating with others during the state of emergency; (4) extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses related to diagnosis and testing for and/or treatment of COVID-19; or (5) child care needs arising from school closures related to COVID-19. No landlord shall initiate an eviction proceeding during the Moratorium Period for unauthorized occupants, pets or nuisance as necessitated by or related to the COVID-19 emergency. For purposes of this Executive Order, a commercial tenant includes, but is not limited to, a tenant using a property as a storage facility or for commercial purposes."

Understand the law is not made to create an excuse not to pay rent. The tenant is still responsible to fall into a category of permissible reasons why rent should not be paid. If not, you technically can be legally evicted.

Conclusion. COVID-19 is unprecedented. So are the laws that are related to COVID-19. We wish everyone the best of luck during this difficult period of time.

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