What you Need to Know about the City of Los Gatos’ Covid-19 Residential Eviction Moratorium

Coronavirus/COVID-19 by Lorena Roel, Esq.

In light of the Coronavirus (“Covid-19”) Pandemic that has affected schools, businesses, housing and employment, the Town Council of Los Gatos adopted Ordinance 2305, an Urgency Covid-19 Eviction Moratorium (“LG-Moratorium”), on March 24, 2020. The LG-Moratorium immediately took effect and expires on May 8, 2020, 45 days after its adoption, unless extended by the Town Council.  

On March 24, 2020, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance No. NS-9.287, an Urgency Covid-19 Eviction Moratorium (“SCC-Moratorium”). The SCC-Moratorium immediately took effect, applies to all residential and commercial tenancies and expires on May 8, 2020, unless extended by the Board of Supervisors.

On March 27, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom executed Executive Order N-37-20 (“State-Moratorium”). The State-Moratorium immediately took effect, applies to all residential tenancies and expires on May 31, 2020, unless extended by Governor Newsom.  

The State-Moratorium takes precedence over the SCC-Moratorium, and the SCC-Moratorium takes precedence over the LG-Moratorium; however, the LG-Moratorium comes into effect only if a provision within the ordinance is more protective of the Affected Tenants. If the LG-Moratorium does not contain provisions or does not provide more protection for tenants, then the landlord and tenant shall defer to the SCC-Moratorium and State-Moratorium.

As landlord and tenants must navigate and abide by the State-Moratorium, SCC-Moratorium and LG-Moratorium, below is a highlight of the LG-Moratorium.

Application:

The LG-Moratorium applies to all residential properties and all residential evictions for nonpayment of rent due to impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The official language of the LG-Moratorium is available here.

Landlord’s Duty:

If a tenant does not pay rent during the LG-Moratorium period, a landlord must serve the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, which shall be in compliance with Code of Civil Procedure Section 1161(2). The landlord is not required to, but should also, serve the tenant copies of the State-Moratorium, SCC-Moratorium and LG-Moratorium.

No-fault evictions are permitted under the State-Moratorium, SCC-Moratorium and LG-Moratorium; however, if the tenant is deemed an Affected Tenant, then a landlord is not permitted to proceed with a no-fault eviction. The State-Moratorium precludes all California Superior Courts from issuing a Writ of Possession against an Affected Tenant and precludes law enforcement from enforcing any Writs until the expiration date of May 31, 2020.

Noncompliance with the LG-Moratorium is an affirmative defense for the Affected Tenant.

Tenant’s Duty:

Within 30 days after the date rent is due, a tenant who has lost their income or a substantial amount of their income due to Covid-19 (“Affected Tenant”) must notify their landlord in writing of such financial hardship to stop an eviction based on nonpayment of rent. 

There is no mandatory notification form that the Affected Tenant must use, so they may prepare their own notice.

In such notification, the Affected Tenant must provide documented proof of their loss of income, which includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Termination letter/reduced hours letter from employer citing Covid-19;
  2. Paycheck stubs from before/after Covid-19 outbreak; 
  3. Bank statements from before/after Covid-19 outbreak; or
  4. Other objectively verifiable proof of the same.

The LG-Moratorium states that Affected Tenants will have to pay the back rent owed after its expiration; however, the SCC-Moratorium states that Affected Tenants will have 120 days from the expiration of the SCC-Moratorium to pay the back rent owed. Since the LG-Moratorium is less protective of Affected Tenants, the SCC-Moratorium prevails.  

Additionally, the SSC-Moratorium states that a landlord cannot collect late fees or other costs associated with nonpayment of rent; however, landlords may collect such fees if the Affected Tenant has not paid the back rent within 120 days after expiration of the SSC-Moratorium.

Tenants who have not been impacted by Covid-19 shall pay rent in their usual course. 

County of Santa Clara Court Closures:

On March 13, 2020, Presiding Judge Deborah A. Ryan issued an Emergency Order for the health and safety of the citizens within Santa Clara County. This Order has frozen all current Unlawful Detainer Matters until April 5, 2020.

On March 27, 2020, the Santa Clara County Court issued another Order in which all evictions are prohibited until May 31, 2020.  Meaning, all current hearings on Unlawful Detainer matters and any evictions that were to take place by the Sheriff’s Department are postponed and  landlords are unable to file an Unlawful Detainer Complaint until June 1, 2020, unless the Order is extended, and their right to do so is not waived. 

Changing landscape:

The LG-Moratorium is based upon the current landscape of Covid-19, and depending on its spread and other measures taken by Federal, State and Local Governments, the LG-Moratorium may be extended to a further date, altered or expired by May 8, 2020.

Landlords and tenants should check with their attorney and/or the City’s website in order to ensure that no changes to the LG-Moratorium have occurred since the posting of this article.

Brewer Offord & Pedersen LLP will continue to monitor the City’s response and will provide updates when appropriate

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