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During the City Council meeting on Thursday, March 19, 2020, the City Council unanimously voted to enact an urgency ordinance imposing a moratorium on residential evictions until at least May 19, 2020. The City has been heavily impacted by the health crisis created by COVID-19 and many workers are expected to stay home for extended periods. While this ordinance does not waive a tenant’s obligations to pay back rent owed once the COVID-19 emergency is over, providing tenants with short-term protection from eviction due to the inability to pay rent will help avoid increasing the homeless population and stabilize the rental housing market by reducing displacement.
The ordinance is not intended to allow tenants to skip rent payments arbitrarily. The moratorium is intended to assist tenants only if they are affected by the COVID-19 emergency and can provide proof in writing to their landlord prior to rent being due.
Highlights of the ordinance include:
Residential tenants shall not be evicted for nonpayment of rent if the tenant demonstrates that the inability to pay rent is due to COVID-19, the state of emergency regarding COVID-19, or following government-recommended COVID-19 precautions.
Covered reasons for delayed payments include:
1) The tenant was sick with COVID-19 or caring for a household or family member who is sick with COVID-19;
2) The tenant experienced a lay-off, loss of hours, substantial decrease in business income caused by a reduction in the opening hours or consumer demand, or other income reduction resulting from COVID-19 or the state of emergency;
3) The tenant’s compliance with a recommendation from a government agency to stay home, self-quarantine, or avoid congregating with others during the state of emergency;
4) The tenant’s need to miss work to care for a home-bound school-age child; and
5) The tenant’s extraordinary medical cost resulting from COVID-19 related medical expenses.
A tenant must notify the landlord in writing on or before the day rent is due that the tenant has a covered reason for delayed payment. Verifiable documentation includes, but is not limited to, a letter from the tenant’s employer stating that the tenant’s income is reduced or eliminated due to the effects of COVID-19, or a letter from the tenant’s health care provider indicating the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household is infected with COVID-19.
The tenant shall provide updated documentation as stated above every thirty (30) days to the landlord.
If a tenant complies with the ordinance, landlords shall not serve a notice a notice pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure sections 1161 or 1162, file or prosecute an unlawful detainer action based on a three-day pay or quit notice, or otherwise endeavor to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent, and the ordinance place into effect March 19, 2020 by the Clearlake City Council shall be an affirmative defense to any such eviction action.
Tenants who were afforded eviction protection under this ordinance shall have up to 180 days after March 19, 2020 to pay their landlord all unpaid rent. Tenants are encouraged to pay as much as they can toward any rent payment during the state of emergency to prevent further financial hardship later when repayments become due.
For additional questions on this ordinance, please contact City Hall at 707-994-8201. City Hall offices are still currently closed to walk-in visits by the public but City staff are maintaining office hours and answering phones, emails and can set up videoconferencing for citizen needs.