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Bill To Delay 'Literally Millions' Of Evictions Announced In Sacramento

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An eviction notice and paperwork. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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A compromise bill intended to prevent a wave of evictions in California was announced in Sacramento Friday. The announcement came from Governor Gavin Newsom, a key player in the negotiations between lawmakers, landlord groups, and tenant advocates.

He said the new law would mitigate “the prospects of millions, literally, millions of people being evicted or at least subject to eviction.”

Without action in Sacramento, eviction proceedings could start up again as soon as next week. California courts stopped processing nearly all evictions in April, but they are set to resume on Sept. 2.

The bill, AB 3088, would stop evictions of tenants who couldn’t pay rent due to COVID-19 between March and August of this year. Going forward, renters would need to pay at least 25 percent of their rent, and would ultimately be responsible for the full rent bill. Higher income renters will be required to provide proof of their financial losses.

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The law would allow other types of evictions to proceed, like a violation of the terms of a lease unrelated to non-payment of rent, stopping short of the total halt that tenant groups have been calling for.

Advocacy group Tenants Together blasted the proposal for “complex provisions [that] will make the legislation inaccessible to renters and the public.”

Under AB 3088, courts wouldn’t process eviction cases based on non-payment of rent until Oct. 5.

Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association, applauded lawmakers for “ensuring that owners can evict nuisance tenants and residents who can afford to pay rent but choose to game the system instead.”

The bill, however, is no sure thing: To take effect immediately, it will need to garner two-thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate — always a high bar to clear. Lawmakers, landlords and tenants are all hoping that the federal government will act to help tenants and smaller property owners, and another bill in early 2021 remains a distinct possibility.

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As many as 5.4 million Californians are at risk of eviction, according to a report published earlier this month.

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