PWBC Member Audrey Smith offered some brief and helpful points to consider regarding the eviction moratorium that was extended in the Bay Area due to COVID-19.
The eviction moratorium was passed to suspend any evictions directly related to the virus during the months of March through August of this year. It has now been extended through the end of January. The hope is that it will prevent a wave of mass evictions in our area. In order for residential tenants to qualify, they must give notice in writing and offer proof that their income or ability to pay rent has been impacted by a job loss, downturn in business or health condition related to the virus. The tenant is still responsible for any back rent that is not paid during the moratorium period. It is the property owner’s responsibility to arrange a property payment agreement. Neither the moratorium nor the agreement prevents parties from going to small claims court if they so choose. Court cases can’t be filed until October.
There is some comfort for renters with this new moratorium, but it offers little relief or support for landlords who are left without the money they usually receive from rental properties. A legitimate concern is that our government has essentially outsourced the responsibility of housing citizens by having property owners allow non-paying tenants to remain in place. In essence, their private property is being used for the public benefit, leaving a strong argument that this violates the Constitution.
This is a complicated issue, for tenants, landlords and litigators alike. During these most trying times, our wheels of justice continue to grind rather slowly. Unfortunately, with no end to the virus implications in sight, we can expect more litigation about this issue.
Audrey Smith is a partner at Howie & Smith, LLP, a full service AV-rated firm providing effective and efficient civil litigation and legal counseling services to clients in a broad range of businesses with an emphasis on sports and recreation commercial enterprises and products. Contact Audrey directly at 650-685-9300 or visit http://howielaw.com/ to inquire about help with your specific litigation needs.