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Rent Forgiveness

Many Angelenos and Californians have faced severe financial hardship over the past year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of individuals and families living in fear that they could be kicked out of their homes at any moment.

State and local lawmakers have tried to intervene with eviction moratoriums, but they’ve been short-lived, overlapping and confusing.

California’s latest legislative move was, as of yesterday, to extend their existing moratorium through the end of June — but with some significant caveats.

In order to qualify for eviction protection, tenants still have to pay either 25% of their rent each month, or 25% of all overdue rent by June 30 in one lump sum.

A rent subsidy program was also put in place by the state yesterday, through which landlords can opt to be reimbursed for 80% of their tenants’ rent, as long as the landlord agrees to forgive the other 20%.

But landlords can choose not to participate in that program, in which case the state will still subsidize 25% of the tenants’ rent, and the tenant will be on the hook for the remaining 75% in June, or face possible eviction.

Does this all sound confusing? That’s because it is. Incredibly so. And many tenants agree. After all, yesterday’s vote comes after nearly a year of rushed, complicated lawmaking around the question of rent relief.

Last spring, L.A. landlords were prohibited from initiating eviction proceedings. At that time, it wasn’t clear how long pandemic closures would last. The city of Los Angeles launched a rent relief program in June, and promptly received more than 220,000 applications — although the program was only designed to help 50,000 households.

Then, in September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a statewide moratorium on evictions, which would expire in Feb. 2021 — the same moratorium that state lawmakers voted yesterday to extend.

This doesn’t even take into account the county’s actions, or the pushback from landlords. In other words, it’s a wildly difficult time to be a renter in California, and while some elected officials seem to want to help, they don’t seem to understand the confusion caused by various governing bodies.

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