LA County’s eviction moratorium, started March 2020, was recently extended by a vote of 4-1. The County sets out a set of complicated rules that affects almost all residential and commercial tenants in LA County, under the COVID-19 emergency powers. COVID-19 related disputes and eviction moratorium protections is a major part of our practice. We help both landlords and tenants understand and enforce these protections.
Updated: 02/08/2022 at 3:16PM
Quick Questions and Answers – Eviction Moratorium
Commercial tenants will no longer be protected under the County eviction moratorium after February 1st, 2022. This means that if any commercial tenant fails to pay rent due February 1st or after – they can be evicted, no matter how COVID-19 affected them, or still impacts them.
Not right now. The County will phase out eviction protections for non-payment of rent for LA residents in stages. All residents are protected if they were impacted by COVID-19 until May 31, 2022.
Eviction moratorium will still protect LA County residents who are making 80% or less of AMI (Area Median Income). Those who earn more, will no longer be protected and must pay the rent starting June 1st, 2022.
Commercial tenants will no longer be protected from eviction after February 1st, 2022. Residential tenants will have to provide the landlord a self-certification letter that they have a COVID-19 hardship. The eviction protection is not automatic, it must be invoked by the tenant.
Most protections for tenants will expire December 31, 2022 (like protections against owner’s move ins, no fault evictions, eviction due to nuisance, and unauthorize pets). However, the County will continue to protect tenants from non payment of rent evictions for households earning less than 80%.
If the tenant complied with the reporting requirement during the protected period, they cannot be evicted for unpaid amounts before February 1st, 2022.
No. All unpaid rent must be paid back to the property owner. Nothing in the resolution by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allow any rent forgiveness – for commercial or residential tenants.
For commercial tenants with over 9 employees, all rent owed is due to the landlord by August 1st, 2022. Tenants with 9 employees or less have until February 1st, 2023.
Residential tenants – for unpaid rent between April 1st, 2022 and May 1st, 2022 – rent is due May 1st, 2023. For most residential tenants, the unpaid rent will have to be paid 12 months from the expiration of the moratorium. There is no current expiration of the moratorium at the moment.
Explaining the LA County COVID-19 Tenant Protection Resolution
The eviction moratorium in LA County went into effect March 4, 2020, to protect tenants (residential and commercial) who could not pay the rent due to financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution was extended multiple times, most recently in January 25, 2022 until December 31, 2022. During the first few months of 2020, no evictions were allowed to be filed in LA Courthouses. More recently, tenants have the ability to block evictions via an affirmative defense if they are facing a financial hardship due to COVID-19.
While the initial rules were fairly simple and easy to understand, more recent resolutions are much more complex. It is important for both landlords and tenants to understand the implications of multiple emergency power (state, federal, city and county) and how to navigate the quickly changing legal landscape to maximize value and avoid costly mistakes.
Who is Covered by the Eviction Moratorium?
For residential tenants, all are covered until December 31, 2022. That includes tenants in single family homes, renters in mobile homes, and condos. The resolution covers all unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County, and all cities in the county with eviction rules with less strict or similar rules to the county’s framework.
What is Allowed and what is Not Allowed under the Resolution’s Phase I?
For commercial tenants:
- After February 1st, 2022 – there is no protection from eviction for commercial tenants of any size.
- Some protections will stay even after February 1st, such as harassment protection and prohibition on enforcing personal guarantees on the lease.
- Rent that was unpaid before February 1st must be paid within 6 months for tenants with more than 9 employees, and 12 months for 9 employees or less.
For Residential Tenants:
- Tenants who are affected by COVID-19 are protected from eviction as a result of non payment of rent through May 31, 2022.
- Landlords also cannot increase rents for rent controlled units in unincorporated areas of LA County.
- Landlords are not allowed to evict tenants for:
- No-fault evictions
- Unauthorized pets
- Unauthorized occupants
- and unauthorized entry
- Tenants are also protected from retaliation and harassment from invoking the protections under the resolution.
What happens in Phase II? (June 1st – December 31st, 2022)
For commercial tenants, nothing changes.
For residential tenants:
- Tenants who make less than 80% of median household income are still protected by the eviction moratorium if they self certify a COVID-19 hardship.
- All protections mentioned above (rent freeze, no fault eviction, pets, etc…) remain for all residential tenants.
- What expires – protection against eviction for denying landlord entry, and allows evictions due to some owner move-ins.
When Should Tenants Pay Rent?
As soon as possible. There is no language, in any city, county, state, or emergency power that provides rent forgiveness to tenants. There are some city programs that pay missing rent for tenants by filling up hardship applications. But if you owe rent – you have to pay it back. Landlords and tenants are encouraged to come up with a payment plan to facilitate a payback. If you are not sure how to engage your landlord, you can hire an attorney to help you.
How Can Landlords Collect Rent from Non-Paying Tenants?
This is a question asked by many clients who come to our firm. The answer is always complicated, since the county recently extended the moratorium through December 31, 2022 and provide 12 months for residential tenants to pay back the rent. Even that date might be extended and landlords cannot evict tenants for not paying back that amount. Collecting this from indigent tenant might prove a tough task.
It is recommended that you hire an experienced attorney to assist you in understanding the County’s rules in collecting rent and evicting tenants. Failure to follow the rules can result in harassment lawsuits and severe fines against property owners.
Can Tenants Still Get Evicted for Other Reasons?
Yes. Residential tenants can still get evicted breaking the lease – such as using the premises for an illegal activity. Eviction moratorium is not a blanket ban on all evictions. Tenants who do not declare a COVID-19 hardship and don’t pay rent run the risk of eviction.
Is the Pandemic Moratorium Apply to Tenant who Came in During COVID-19?
Yes. It may seem unfair, but there is nothing in the rules that exempts tenants who came in knowing the pandemic risks. It is important to hedge your risk during the application period with new tenants in order to mitigate that risk. Ask us how and we’d love to assist you.
Can Landlords Charge Tenants Late Fees for Unpaid Rent During the Pandemic?
No. Tenants who invoke COVID-19 financial hardship during the protected period cannot be charged late fees for unpaid rent. If you are a landlord, and try to include late fees in either your 3-day notice to pay or quit, or in your complaint for unlawful detainer – and those late fees were as a result of a COVID-19 hardship, you run the risk of losing your case. Note that after February 1st, 2022 – commercial tenants are no longer protected under County protection for eviction, so landlords can apply late fees and eviction for late-paying tenants.
Hire the Right Law Firm to Maximize your Position – Sinai Law
Our firm represents both landlords and tenants on all matters related to the COVID-19 eviction moratorium. When interpreting the rules that the County just implemented, you need an aggressive and experienced attorney to inform you of how the ordinance impacts your unique situation and how to best approach your legal needs.
We helped hundreds of clients in during COVID-19 recover lost rent, restore possession, and negotiate rent buyouts.
For Residential Tenants
LA County has implemented important rights for residential tenants, and it is crucial that you hire the right legal counsel to understand how to protect your home. This is especially true for tenants under rent control who are paying less than market rate. Evictions still occur during the eviction moratorium – only the right legal help can help you avoid that. We help all residential tenants who fell behind as a result of a COVID-19 hardship.
For Commercial Tenants
Understanding the new regulations and protections provided to commercial tenants in LA County is crucial before approaching your landlord to negotiate a buyout, asking for rent reduction, or a payment plan for missed rent during COVID.
It is more likely than not that the property owner has a lawyer advising them. You should too, and we can help. We represent tenants in eviction protection, lease buyouts, rent reduction, and lease restructuring.
For Property Owners
The eviction moratorium the County enacted to stop removal of non-paying tenants has disrupted the plans of countless landlords in Los Angeles. Eviction is often the only tool of leverage a landlord has to force rent payment out of a tenant, and restore possession in order to find the next tenant as soon as possible. The County has removed this tool and now landlords must get creative in restoring back rent and possession.
Even with little leverage, our office was able to restore possession, recover back rent from non-paying tenants, and successfully enforce landlord rights even during COVID-19. Having a non-paying tenant could be a major roadblock if you want to sell or refinance your property. We offer creative solutions to enforce the existing lease and provide value for our clients, often within the first 48 hours. For immediate consultation you can reach us via the contact page to schedule your appointment.