In response to the coronavirus, the Fullerton City Council voted 4-1 (Whitaker “no”) to enact a temporary eviction moratorium for residential (including single family, multi-family and mobile homes), commercial, nonprofit and certain hotel/motel tenants.
This urgency ordinance would prohibit a landlord from initiating proceedings or otherwise taking steps to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent if the tenant demonstrates that the inability to pay rent is due to Covid-19.
Providing tenants with short-term protection from eviction due to the inability to pay rent will help stabilize the rental housing market by reducing displacement. During this state of emergency, and in the interests of protecting the public health and preventing transmission of the coronavirus, it is essential to avoid unnecessary displacement of tenants. To that end, prohibiting evictions on a temporary basis is important until the spread of the virus can be minimized and the emergency restrictions lifted.
In order to take advantage of the protections provided in the ordinance, both residential and commercial tenants are required to, within 30 days after the rent is due: (1) notify the landlord “in writing” that they are unable to pay all or a portion of their rent due to Covid-19-related financial impacts, and (2) provide documentation. “In writing” includes email or text communications to a landlord or the landlord’s representative with whom the tenant has previously corresponded by email or text.
If rent is late for an additional month, tenants are still covered for rent deferral if they’ve notified the landlord with documentation the first time the rent was overdue. Because of this, it is essential to submit the notification and initial documentation within 30 days of the first time rent is late, which will qualify the tenant to defer additional months of rent if necessary.
Nothing in the urgency ordinance is intended to waive or remove a tenant’s obligation to pay back rent owed once this ordinance is no longer in effect. The tenant, whether residential or commercial, will still owe rent for the month(s) missed and in no way does this action create any city, state or federal government expectation or obligation to pay any rent on behalf of a tenant. The City recommends that tenants pay what they can pay versus not paying at all, to lessen the extra they will have to pay when things return to normal. It is also better to send the notice to the landlord as soon as possible after rent is due (the state suggests 7 days), to show good faith and intention in communicating. It is possible that some landlords will not yet be aware of the Fullerton ordinance, especially if they are out of town.
The ordinance provides that a tenant will have up to 180 days after May 31, 2020 to pay any unpaid rent, unless there are state extensions or unless extended in writing between the landlord and tenant. No late fees, costs or other penalties shall be assessed or due from the tenant based on the delay in paying rent as provided for in this ordinance. The Moratorium on eviction remains in effect until the expiration of the Governor’s Executive Order N-28-20, May 31, 2020, including any extensions. The executive order specifically allows for any city ordinance enacted prior to the state order of March 27, to remain in effect. Fullerton’s ordinance of March 26th qualifies, and is more beneficial to tenants with the six month repayment timeline, and it also covers commercial tenants.
There will also be some relief, non-municipal, for landlords with financial difficulties due to Covid-19. For landlords who still have mortgages, several big banks, as well as the federal government, have announced mortgage forbearance, and the Orange County Assessor is allowing payment deferral of property tax bills if property owners can validate Covid-19 impacts.
Other local cities which have passed similar resolutions or ordinances are as follows:
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