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Bill To Stop Evictions Advances In Sacramento

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California lawmakers are scrambling to pass a bill preventing evictions before courts start processing eviction cases again in September. With the clock ticking, one proposal took a step forward in the statehouse today.

AB 1436 would halt evictions of tenants who fell behind on rent due to COVID-19, provided they submit an “attestation” — basically proof of the connection — to their landlord within 15 days of a request for payment. Tenants would remain on the hook for the full rent bill, but would have until April 2021, or 90 days after the state’s emergency expires — whichever comes first — to pay it back.

San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu, who introduced the bill, said on Monday:

“This is frankly our last chance to take action to stop a massive wave of evictions and foreclosures.”

Chiu and other legislators argued that the cost of doing nothing would be catastrophic, including a wave of evictions.
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As many as 5.4 million Californians are at risk of eviction, according to a report published earlier this month.

The bill would also extend a year of mortgage forbearance, which allows a pause or reduction in payments, to homeowners with privately backed loans. Supporters said that provision would prevent further consolidation in the housing market. “No one is going to benefit and make out like a bandit from this pandemic. Nobody should,” Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson said.

The bill has the support of several renters groups, and fierce opposition from many landlords. The Senate Judiciary Committee listened to hours of public comment on Monday before voting 6-0 to advance the bill, with three abstentions. Its next stop is the Senate Rules Committee.

A separate bill working its way through the statehouse, SB 1410, would offer tax credits to property owners whose tenants fall behind on rent. The two proposals could be combined in the coming days.

For any bill to provide immediate eviction protections, it will require two-thirds support in the legislature, and the Governor's signature.

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