California was teetering on the edge of a major eviction crisis on August 31st. Federal eviction protections for those affected by COVID-19 were set to expire on September 1st, and that would mean a tidal wave of people being forced out of their homes. But then the state legislature passed the AB3088 renter's protection bill, which would protect some renters from eviction through January 31st.
Then, at the literal 11th hour, just before midnight, Governor Newsom signed the bill which then went into effect immediately.
To fall under the bill's protection, a renter must still pay at least 25% of their rent and file a declaration with their landlord stating that their failure to pay is directly related to financial hardship caused by the pandemic. After January 31st when the protections run out, renters can't be evicted for failing to pay their previous rent, but if they miss their rental payment on February 1st, they are eligible for evictions.
Like the federal eviction ban earlier this year, the AB3088 only protects renters from being evicted and doesn't do anything to help tenants pay their rent or landlords pay their mortgages. Tenants will still have to pay the back rent eventually, and landlords can take renters to small claims court to try and collect. But if people have no money to claim, that won't do landlords much good either.
Previous bills proposed included rent waivers for 1-3 years, with no help for the building's owners. Though renters would be spared in the short term, landlords who can't make the mortgage might go into foreclosure or decide to sell the property. In the end, renters would still be at risk of losing their housing. So while the AB3088 will keep renters from being turned out on the streets (in the middle of a stretch of intermittent heatwaves no less) right now, the fallout of the crisis at hand has only been delayed a few more months. Unless California or the federal government can come up with a plan that relieves both renters and landlords before January 31st, we'll still be facing the same terrible outcome.
Are you a renter, landlord, or homeowner who has been affected by the pandemic? Then check out our COVID-19 resource page.