On Monday the California Judicial Council approved emergency orders essentially halting most evictions and foreclosures through the summer.
The order is a welcome respite for many renters and homeowners struggling to pay their rent and mortgage this month due to job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, there is no rent forgiveness on the table — and renters are urged to learn their rights in these uncertain times.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued the following guidance in a statement Tuesday:
▪ “Tenants still owe rent; if you can pay your rent, you should.
▪ ”If you cannot pay all of your rent, you should be aware that your landlord can still file an eviction case against you, but the case will not proceed until at least 90 days following the end of the state of emergency.”
For renters who were current on their February rent, if they notify their landlords of their inability to pay rent due to COVID-19 within seven days of rent being due — for most renters, that’s Wednesday, April 8 — they are protected against lockout by the sheriff, according to the statement from Becerra.
The guidance from Becerra noted that several cities and counties have enacted more restrictive local ordinances that may go beyond the statewide protections. In the central San Joaquin Valley, just Fresno and Madera have enacted local ordinances so far.
In Fresno, renters have until 10 days after rent is due — or Friday, April 10th — to inform their landlords of their inability to pay some or all of their rent, in order to avoid eviction for the remainder of the city’s state of emergency, as well as avoid any late fees or penalties in the meantime. Additionally, Fresno renters who inform their landlords in writing of their situation will have six months after the city’s state of emergency is lifted to pay back all rent owed, according to the city’s emergency order adopted on March 25.
The Madera City Council adopted new eviction protections Monday evening. Beyond disallowing landlords to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 impacts, if renters write their landlords detailing their financial impacts within seven days of rent being due, a landlord cannot file an eviction suit. Renters who have followed these instructions can avoid late fees or penalties for missed rent payments and will have six months after the city’s state of emergency is lifted to pay back all rent owed.