Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation extending protections for renters from evictions due to financial hardship stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic through January 31, 2021.
It may be too early to determine what the law means for residents of senior housing communities across the Golden State, but communities and residents in private-pay senior housing should be studying its details, Hanson Bridgett Partner Lori Ferguson told Senior Housing News.
Generally, senior housing residents may not experience income reductions, as they are already on fixed incomes. If, however, their adult children are helping to pay their fees and experience a reduction or loss of income due to Covid-19, senior housing communities may see residents claim coronavirus-related financial distress.
According to the law, Covid-19 financial distress can mean any of the following:
- Loss of income caused by the pandemic
- Higher out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the pandemic
- Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the pandemic
- Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled or sick family member directly related to the pandemic that limits tenants ability to earn income
- Increased costs for childcare or tending to an elderly, disabled or sick family member directly related to the pandemic
- Other circumstances related to the outbreak that have reduced tenants’ income or increased expenses
The California law was passed the day before the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) issued an order placing a temporary halt to evictions to reduce the spread of Covid-19. The federal order does prevent evictions for non-payment through December 31, 2020, and does not require landlords to provide a blank declaration to the tenant with eviction notices, Hanson Bridgett Senior Counsel Payam Saljoughian told SHN.
The federal moratorium went into effect on September 4, while California’s order is retroactive to March 1.
Additionally, California courts may not issue summonses for evictions based on non-payment until October 5, and tenants seeking protection under the California law or the CDC order must sign declarations under penalty of perjury, to show that they qualify.
Overall, the California law gives tenants broader protections from evictions, in some cases exceeding the CDC order. California protects people who have signed declarations under oath and qualify under the financial distress definitions from being evicted for non-payment from the period of March 1 through August 31.
It becomes more complicated beyond that, from September 1 through January 31, 2021.
“They also have to come up with 25% of what is owed, in order to protect themselves from eviction for non payment during that time period, but they don’t have to pay that amount until January 31,” Ferguson said.
Moreover, for any time from March 1 through January 31, senior living residents defined as high-income tenants under California state law must provide proof of Covid-related distress to their landlords in order to hold off eviction proceedings.