Antioch real estate broker challenges the legality
By Susan Shiu, Director, Office of Communications and Media, Contra Costa County
(Martinez, CA) – At a special Board meeting on July 14, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an urgency ordinance that continues an eviction moratorium for residential tenants and small businesses in the County through September 30, 2020. The urgency ordinance also continues a moratorium on certain residential rent increases through September 30, 2020.
The new ordinance temporarily prohibits evictions of residential tenants in Contra Costa County impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The eviction moratorium also applies to tenants who are small businesses or non-profit organizations. A small business is an independently owned and operated business that is not dominant in its field of operation, has its principal office in California, has 100 or fewer employees, and has average annual gross receipts of $15 million or less over the previous three years.
“The emergency is not over with the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic impact our residents face has not subsided,” said Supervisor Candace Andersen, Board Chair. “We sincerely hope passage of this new ordinance to extend the eviction protection and rent freeze will continue to protect renters and small businesses, even as landlords and renters work together to have tenants pay what they can over a longer period of time.”
This law applies to properties in all 19 cities in the County and in all unincorporated areas. To the extent that a city has adopted a law on the same subject matter, then the city’s provisions would apply in that city.
Protections granted to residential renters and small businesses include:
- Prohibition on Evictions Due to Unpaid Rent – A property owner cannot evict a residential tenant or small business tenant for failure to pay rent if a tenant demonstrates loss of income or out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19. This prohibition lasts through September 30, 2020.
- Ban on No-Fault Evictions – A property owner cannot evict a residential tenant or small business tenant for any “no-fault” reason except to protect the health and safety of the owner or another tenant, to allow the owner or their immediate family to move into the residential unit or to remove the unit from the rental market. This ban lasts through September 30, 2020.
- Grace Period to Pay Back Rent – Residential tenants or small business tenants who demonstrate loss of income or out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 have until January 31, 2021 to pay past due rent. This does not relieve a tenant of their obligation to pay rent.
- No Late Fees – A property owner may not charge or collect late fees for unpaid rent from a residential tenant or small business tenant who demonstrates loss of income or out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19. This ban on late fees extends until January 31, 2021.
- Moratorium on Residential Rent Increases – A property owner may not increase rent on a residential property through September 30, 2020. State law prevents this freeze from applying to commercial tenancies and to certain residential properties, including residences built within the last 15 years and single family homes.
Mark Jordan, an Antioch real estate broker who is suing the City of Antioch over their rent moratorium, emailed the Supervisors on Monday.
On 7/13/20, 12:52 PM, he wrote:
“Supervisors of the County of Contra Costa,
I am informed that on July 14, 2020 you as a Board shall consider if the Urgency Ordinance No. 2020-20 should be extended.
YOU SHOULD NOT EXTEND THIS URGENCY ORDINANCE.
- You have made no adjustments or given consideration to the damage done to landlords. You have not offered any tax relief. There exist significant questions of “equal protection under the law”.
- There is abuse of the situation by tenants not directly effected (sic) by the underlying pandemic.
- Courts are not open to Landlords to remove tenants for any matter. See California Judicial Council Directive. Other protections exist for maintaining “Shelter in Place”.
- The Urgency Ordinance is not specific enough as to what is a tenant “demonstration” or “substantial loss of income”.
5. While your Counsel notes “Pending Legislation” your attorney does not inform you of the numerous filed lawsuits against the California Judicial Council, Counties and or Municipalities. There exist significant questions of “due process” and “equal protection”” both as to the Federal and State Constitutions.
Therefore, it would be a prudent decision to allow the Urgency Ordinance No. 2020-20 to expire and that the Ordinance be concluded with the grace period beginning on July 15th.
In response, Supervisor Karen Mitchoff who represents Central County in District 4 wrote,
“Dear Mr. Jordan,
Thank you for your email regarding the extension of the Rent increase and Eviction moratorium. Yesterday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed ordinance 2020-20, which continues the eviction moratorium for residential tenants and small businesses in Contra Costa County through September 30th, 2020. This urgency ordinance also continues a moratorium on certain residential rent increases through the same date.”
She then listed and repeated the various parts of the ordinance.
“This law applies to properties in all 19 cities in the County and in all unincorporated areas.
As we get closer to September 30, the Board of Supervisors will re-evaluate the moratorium given the changing dynamics presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as pending legislation on a state and federal level relative to this topic. We continue to share with our state and federal partners the diversity of resources needed in our communities across the county.
While there were calls to extend the moratorium to 90 days after the Governor’s state of emergency has ended, we still have many small landlords throughout Contra Costa County. I have continually advocated to limit the grace period for repayment to 120 days because we must balance the needs of both landlords as well as renters. Additionally, in protecting tenants across the county, we have been advised by County Counsel that providing specific dates for expiry of the ordinance and for repayment makes our moratorium more readily defensible against potential legal challenges brought against it. With the rise in community spread of COVID-19, the Board of Supervisors are doing all we can to support struggling families and individuals across the county.
I hope you and your family are safe and healthy.
For information and resources, visit Contra Costa County at www.contracosta.ca.gov. For COVID-19 updates, visit Contra Costa Health Services at https://cchealth.org/coronavirus. If you have questions about the coronavirus, contact the multilingual Call Center 1-844-729-8410, open daily from 8 am to 5 pm (available in English and Spanish). For assistance after hours in multiple languages, please call 211 or 800-833-2900 or text HOPE to 20121.