On Tuesday, in response to the shelter in place directive, the Antioch City Council adopted an urgency ordinance enacting a temporary moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the ordinance, tenants are held liable for any unpaid rent and shall receive a ninety (90) day grace period per month of arrears after expiration or other termination of the term of the ordinance during which to repay any monies due for failure to pay rent or utilities.
The move comes after a March 16 order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom who issued Executive Order N-28-20 which allows local governments to consider a moratorium on evictions.
The issued ordinance applies for nonpayment eviction and unlawful detainer action notices, including expired or canceled leases, served or filed on or after March 16, 2020. The ordinance will remain effective until May 31, 2020, unless a later date is announced as a result of a local emergency or the governor’s proclamation of a state of emergency.
The City Council can take further action if the moratorium must be extended.
“We have a lot of small businesses that have been shutdown and I think we are all very conserved with what is going to happen with them,” said Motts. “I think its kind of absurd to think that somebody is going to be without income for two or three months and then all of a sudden be able to pay two or three months of back rent. I think we are just setting them up for failure so the last thing we want to do is create more hardship here but we are really trying to do is get through this unprecedented time.”
Motts said while she understood where landlords were coming from prohibits landlords from making other arrangements
The City of Antioch agreed Tuesday to a 90-days per month grace period once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Originally, it was stated at 6-months, but the council opted to make it 90-days per month grace period:
- 2 months of missed – 6-months grace period
- 3 months of missed – 9 months of grace period
- 4 months of missed – 1 year of grace period
Councilwoman Lori Ogorochock highlighted that some of these rentals are the only income some people have noting she did not disagree with the moratorium, but you are then taking salaries or income from somebody else
“To see you are going to recoup some of these fees a year later, that is a little hard,” stated Ogorchock.
She also highlighted that several property owners have already reached out to tenants asking if they had a hardship in paying the rents to give them time saying conversation is already going on.
“I think that going passed these dates going past the dates in this ordinance, its going to be a little tough to have a financial difficulty. Not just the tenants,” said Ogorchock.
Thorpe argued that landlords can work out any deal with their tenants, but what they were doing was establishing a baseline or framework.
City Attorney Thomas Lloyd stated this policy would strengthen the bargaining position of the tenant and provided the baseline and has protection from the city under this ordinance. He clarified the ordinance does not prevent a tenant and landlord from creating a better deal, but this is the worst that a tenant could get at a baseline and could negotiate a better deal if a landlord is willing.
Mayor Sean Wright, who noted that over 50% of Antioch residents are living paycheck to paycheck.
“These are unprecedented times, we have never told 80% of the workforce you can’t go to work,” said Wright. “We are telling people, not that they don’t want to, that they can’t go to work. They are not able to pay their bills because government has now stepped in from a public safety standpoint. Government has a place because we stepped in and said you can’t go to work, we need to help our residents.”
Wright said this was something he thought they had to do to be able to help. He was fine with the Moratorium being through the “emergency” either until May 31 or until this is declared over.
“I know this is going to be hard on landlords who require that rent to make the mortgage payment,” said Wright. “They are going to have to figure out how to work with the banks to make that payment. We are all in this together to get through this.”
Wright said he was in favor of the 90-days instead of 120-days to show balance for the landlords.
Orgorchock further highlighted that it will not do the tenants any good should the landlords lose the properties for lack of payment. She urged the council not to extend this too far out for the owners of this property and said the council had to be careful in what they were doing.
Motts stated that she encouraged landlords and tenants to work together.
“I am hoping that everybody will be up to the task and find ways to work together,” said Motts.
City Attorney Lloyd highly recommended the council go with either the 90-days or 6-months to stay consistent with other cities.
Councilmember Thorpe argued for language change that would apply to all evictions and not just rent and loss of income as they are asking people to shelter in place. He further highlighted they were not evicting people from encampments, so he wanted no one evicted during the shelter in place order.
“Why would we have people move when we are asking people to shelter in place?” stated Thorpe.
The City attorney replied the ordinance before the council mimics what the Governor’s order stated and asked to go back and do more research as the Governor has suspended a lot of state laws and the city was underneath that covered—including eviction.
“When we say we can’t evict anybody for any reason, that is no longer under the state coverage,” stated Smith. “That is something we would want to carefully look at so we are not exceeding our police power. If we are going to step out and do something like that, we better be sure.”
Thorpe said he was okay with the city attorney doing more work on that.
Ogorchock explained that currently evictions are not happening right now and the courts are closed which prevents evictions from going through along with no foreclosures occurring.
The Antioch city Council approved the urgency ordinance in a 5-0 vote and it will go into effect immediately.
According to the City:
After landlords are notified of a tenant’s inability to provide a portion of or the complete payment, due to temporary COVID-19 related issues noted in the ordinance, the landlord cannot serve the tenant with a legal notice pursuant to the Civil Code Procedure section 1116; file or prosecute an unlawful detainer based on a three-day pay or quit notice; or evict a tenant due to failure to pay rent.In order to fully comply with the ordinance, tenants must provide a written notice within 14 days after the payment due date. The notice must disclose the tenant’s inability to pay the full amount of rent, as soon as they become aware of a substantial decrease in household or business income, or if they have been affected by out-of-pocket medical expenses.
This ordinance is meant to provide temporary relief for tenants unable to pay rent.Landlords must be notified in writing of a tenant’s inability to pay the full amount of rent within 14-days after the payment due date. The tenant’s claim must be in accordance to the issued ordinance or any local, state, or federal government response related to the Coronavirus pandemic and must be accompanied with documentation in support of the claim.
Landlords’ are accounted for any confidential information provided by their tenants, including medical and financial information, as such information is limited to the tenant’s claim evaluation process.After the ordinance has expired, landlords may seek the monetary amount of unpaid rent.
Tenants are held liable for any unpaid rent and shall receive a ninety (90) day grace period per month of arrears after expiration or other termination of the term of the ordinance during which to repay any monies due for failure to pay rent or utilities. Nothing in the ordinance relieves the tenant of liability for the unpaid rent, which the landlord may seek after the expiration of the Ordinance. Additionally, landlords are prohibited from charging or collecting late fees for delayed rent payments or from seeking delayed rent payment for eviction, as it relates to the previously mentioned reasons.