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Landlords: Preparing for the Months Ahead

As moratoriums in most areas of California have been extended and ongoing worry about evictions persist, landlords and tenants may find themselves in a predicament. As state government jurisdictions continue to protect tenants, the question then arises of what landlords can and should do about rent payments once moratoriums are lifted.

According to the VC Star, “Across Ventura County, local eviction moratoriums protect tenants who were financially impacted by COVID-19 from eviction due to nonpayment of rent. These protections currently last through September. The Judicial Council of California also halted all new eviction and foreclosure filings during the pandemic, providing an additional layer of protection.”

The Judicial Council of California issued a number of emergency rules related to COVID-19 on April 16th, 2020 which have affected landlords throughout the state. These rules extend the entire process of eviction for landlords, however, they also extend the amount of time it would take for a tenant to bring a lawsuit before the court. Until it is stated by the Governor “that the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted, amended, or repealed,” these rules will remain in effect, and will also continue for 90 days after that specific statement is made.

The city of Los Angeles has provided an expansion of tenant protections during the COVID-19 crisis that accounts for the amended ordinance and serves as an example of what landlords can and can’t do during this time, including:

  • Giving tenants 12 months to repay an owed rent
  • Prohibiting landlords from charging late fees or interest
  • Requiring landlords to accepts tenant’s self-certification of financial hardship related to the pandemic
  • Prohibiting landlords from harassing or intimidating tenants for acts or omissions expressly permitted under the ordinance

What are my options as a landlord?

There are a number of ways landlords can go about interacting with tenants who may be struggling to pay rent during this time, including:

  1. Allowing tenants to make partial rent payments
  2. Creating a rent deferral program
  3. Waiving late rent fees
  4. Waiving fees to break a lease
  5. Communicating with tenants frequently
  6. Keeping documentation of tenant financial hardship or failure to pay rent

And of course, there may be legal implications by using any of these options, which is why contacting a local attorney to assist you directly can help, before and after moratoriums are lifted.

What are the current solutions?

 While there are no concrete solutions to the various issues landlords are experiencing right now, the best thing to do is to continue to have frequent communication with your tenants and listen to their needs, while keeping in mind the rules and limitations that your business has created in conjunction with state mandates and guidelines. Getting in touch with an in-house legal team, or any legal advisor, can help to determine where you stand in accordance with your individual case.

Get Legal Protection

 As a landlord during these challenging times, it’s important that you have legal assistance for any issues that may arise due to the complicated nature of current moratoriums, the state of the economy, and/or conflicts with tenants. By contacting a local attorney and getting a consultation, you’re helping yourself avoid potential lawsuits further down the line. With specific circumstances for many landlords, it’s important to know what you can legally do, and what potential issues you may encounter.

Key Takeaways 

  1. Explore alternative options for rent payments
  2. Use current solutions
  3. Get legal assistance

How We Can Help:

 Our attorneys at Lowthorp Richards specialize in:

  • Commercial landlord-tenant law and negotiations
  • Commercial leases, including agricultural, oil, and gas leases
  • Eminent domain, administrative agency, and zoning representation
  • Real property sales, purchases, title insurance, and escrow
  • Real property foreclosures and work-outs
  • Real property remedies

We know that like many other businesses in California and the United States, your company may be struggling due to issues related to COVID-19. We know that it is of the utmost importance for your business to stay running, avoid potential lawsuits, and be prepared if a lawsuit should arise in the coming months once moratoriums are lifted.

Get in contact with us today to get the legal advice that you need. Our attorneys live and practice in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. We are a client business service and provide prompt and cost-efficient legal services with a specific expertise in estate planning.

NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.

Cristian R. Arrieta, Lowthorp Richards McMillan Miller & Templeman, A Professional Corporation, 300 E. Esplanade Drive Suite 850, Oxnard, CA 93036