Western Center and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation co-sponsored AB 1436 (Chiu) this year to ensure tenants would not be evicted because of their inability to pay rent during a global pandemic that has had devastating economic consequences. AB 3088, which was announced today, includes eviction protections for tenants who cannot afford to pay rent. These protections are critical and we urge the Legislature to pass the bill and the Governor to sign it.
However, AB 3088 is only part of the solution. It is a needed but temporary fix to protect tenants from eviction who are struggling to afford rent. We still need a long-term solution to the pandemic’s financial consequences for tenants, small landlords, and affordable housing providers. Our organizations are committed to working with stakeholders, the Legislature, and the Governor to ensure that new legislation to provide the long-term fix is ready to be enacted by the end of January.
While AB 3088 will help protect tenants from being evicted for nonpayment of rent during the COVID crisis, it is not a complete solution to the looming eviction crisis. Many tenants will be unprotected once the Judicial Council’s Emergency Rule 1 is repealed on September 1st, which put a pause on almost all eviction proceedings.
Evictions other than those for nonpayment of rent—including evictions where the landlord provides no reason — will move forward starting September 2nd. In announcing the repeal of the Rule, the Chief Justice reminded the Governor and the Legislature that it is their role to make policy in this area, not the court’s.
As we continue to struggle to contain COVID-19, allowing any evictions other than those necessary for safety is dangerous and contrary to public health directives.
Like the COVID crisis itself, the removal of Emergency Rule 1 will disproportionately impact Black and Brown renters, exacerbating the state’s stark economic and health disparities, and impeding a just and equitable economic recovery. It will also lead to voter disenfranchisement in an election that will rely almost entirely on mail-in ballots, which require a reliable address.
Western Center and CRLAF will monitor the impacts of evictions once Emergency Rule 1 is lifted and AB 3088, if enacted, takes effect—specifically how evictions impact tenants with low incomes. We will bring forth additional proposals as warranted to ensure tenants are protected.