AB 2179 – So What Now?

Real estate agent giving the keys of his new house to a man

No doubt the last two years of moratoriums, eviction rules, required disclosures, declarations of Covid-19 related financial distress, and applications for rental assistance have our heads spinning. As a result, we find ourselves wondering when will the old way of doing things, i.e., serving a three-day notice and filing unlawful detainers come back? Well, the most honest answer is “I don’t know.” But, hopefully this update regarding AB 2179 and a bit of my unsolicited advice will help you navigate your way through this unique time.

CA Covid-19 Rent Relief Program/Rental Assistance for March 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022.

The Covid-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 and the Covid-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act of 2021 have been extended with the recent passage of AB 2179. What does this mean? It means the state rental assistance program now has until June 30, 2022, to process all pending applications that were submitted by March 31, 2022. What do I do now? Continue to be patient (you have no choice) and make sure you respond to all inquiries you receive via email, text, or phone, from agents with the state rental assistance program. Once they begin to reach out to you, they will expect responses and documents sent to them within a relatively short period of time. If you have questions, call 1-800-430-2122. You cannot file an unlawful detainer for rent that became due between March 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022, if your tenant timely completed his/her application by March 31, 2022. You must wait until you receive a final decision or at least until June 30, 2022, for now.

State Rental Assistance Program – “You Can Now Apply for Additional Assistance through CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program!”

The state rental assistance program has decided to take advantage of the extension to June 30, 2022, by reaching out to tenants who previously received state rental assistance but did not apply for up to 18 months of assistance, for the eligible period of April 2020 to March 2022. These tenants are now being notified that they are eligible to “recertify” for additional rental and utility assistance. If you were planning on attempting to evict a tenant for any unpaid amounts that your tenant did not receive rental assistance for that came due during the recovery period (October 2021 – March 31, 2022) or the transition period, (September 2020 – September 2021) think again. What should you do? As stated above, if you are contacted by the state rental assistance program to provide further documentation in order to process the recertification, comply with all requests for information and documentation and get your rent. Attempting to move forward with an eviction based on unpaid amounts that came due prior to March 30, 2022, now is not a good idea.

If a tenant who previously received rental assistance from the state rental assistance program, still has outstanding rent from April 2020 through March 2022 and has not been contacted by the state rental assistance program, encourage that tenant to contact the state rental assistance program to start the recertification process. If they refuse to do so, consult with an attorney. You may be advised to serve proper notices to pay rent or quit that will eventually “encourage” tenants to recertify.

Notices to Pay Rent or Quit – Rent for April 1, 2022, forward

Landlords can use 3-Day Notices to Pay Rent or Quit for rent due as of April 1, 2022. Rent as of April 1, 2022, must be paid in full. If you have a property with a federally backed mortgage, your property is subject to the CARES Act and a 30-Day Termination notice must be served. You should advise counsel whether or not your property is subject to the CARES Act before proceeding with a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. Keep in mind that while your tenant will not qualify for rental assistance through the state rental assistance program, there are other agencies/organizations that are processing applications for rental assistance for rent that comes due April 1, 2022, forward.

What happens as of July 1, 2022?

We don’t know yet. AB 2179 prohibits local jurisdictions from expanding or extending local ordinances between August 19, 2022, and June 30, 2022, related to nonpayment of rent. That means as of July 1, 2022, local ordinances are not prohibited from providing protections related to nonpayment of rent.

Parting Thoughts

The pandemic has brought about changes to the unlawful detainer process that will likely remain in place for some time to come. The landscape is still a bit murky, but here at ZF, we remain vigilant and are dedicated to helping you forge a path forward. Contact us to request a consultation.