Bill Text


PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

SB-1410 Rental assistance: COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.(2019-2020)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 06/02/2020 09:00 PM
SB1410:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  June 02, 2020
Amended  IN  Senate  May 18, 2020
Amended  IN  Senate  April 30, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 1410


Introduced by Senator Lena Gonzalez Caballero
(Principal coauthor: Senator Caballero Lena Gonzalez)
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Petrie-Norris)

February 21, 2020


An act to add Chapter 11.8 (commencing with Section 50810) to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to housing, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1410, as amended, Lena Gonzalez Caballero. Rental assistance: COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Existing law governs the hiring of residential dwelling units and requires a landlord to provide specified notice to tenants prior to an increase in rent. Existing law, until January 1, 2030, prohibits an owner of residential real property from, over the course of any 12-month period, increasing the gross rental rate for a dwelling unit more than 5% plus the change in the cost of living, as defined, or 10%, whichever is lower, of the lowest gross rental rate charged for the immediately preceding 12 months, subject to specified conditions.
This bill would establish the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, to be administered by the Director of Housing and Community Development. The bill would deem a household eligible for rental assistance payments under the program if the household demonstrates an inability to pay all or any part of the household’s rent due between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, due to COVID-19 or a response to COVID-19, as specified, and the owner of the dwelling unit consents to participate in the program. The bill would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop a process for an administering entity, as defined, to confirm whether a household demonstrates an inability to pay rent, as provided, and develop a process to obtain the owner’s consent to participate in the program. The bill would require each payment to an owner under the program to equal at least 80% of the amount of rent owed by the household to the owner. The bill would prohibit the rental assistance provided by the program from covering more than 7 months of a household’s missed or insufficient rent payments. The bill would exempt any guidelines or policies that the department adopts to implement the program from the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act.
This bill would prohibit an owner who participates in the program from increasing the gross rental rate for the dwelling unit between the date the owner consents to participate in the program and December 31, 2020, and would prohibit an owner from charging or attempting to collect a late fee for any rent payment due between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. The bill would require an owner who participates in the program to accept a payment provided under the program as full payment of the missed or insufficient rent payments, as specified.
This bill would create the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Fund in the State Treasury, and upon appropriation by the Legislature, make the moneys in the fund available to the department for purposes of the program. The bill would provide that the program be implemented only to the extent that funding is made available through the Budget Act. The bill would specify that it is the intent of the legislature to prioritize the use of available federal funds before using General Fund moneys for the program.
This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature hereby finds and declares the following:
(a) The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended the lives of all Californians.
(b) The Employment Development Department is processing an unprecedented demand for unemployment benefits. The department saw nearly 187,000 claims during the third week of March, which is more than three times the number from the week before and five times the number in the same week last year, according to the United States Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment insurance data.
(c) The United States Congress has enacted several relief packages to address the economic fallout of the pandemic, but most Californians who rent their homes still need help.
(d) Many renters who miss rent payments because of this pandemic will experiences challenges in paying back the missed rent, which may worsen their long-term financial stability. Those missing rent payments will also negatively impact rental property owners, leading to an adverse domino effect on their larger communities.
(e) The New York Legislature is currently considering a measure (New York State Senate Bill S8140A) that would issue rent vouchers to qualifying households for a limited period of time.
(f) In the United States Congress, the Emergency Rental Assistance Act of 2020 (House Resolution 6314 (2020)) would increase short-term rental assistance for most Americans by expanding the Emergency Solutions Grant Program.
(g) It is the intent of the Legislature to create a temporary rental assistance program that provides rental payments directly to rental housing providers to cover at least 80 percent of unpaid rent of tenants who could not pay rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 11.8 (commencing with Section 50810) is added to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, to read:
CHAPTER  11.8. COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program

50810.
 (a) There is hereby established the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which shall be administered by the director in accordance with this chapter.
(b) The director may, as deemed necessary, do either of the following in order to accelerate the implementation of this chapter:
(1) Direct an existing office or program within the department to implement this chapter.
(2) Contract with private entities, local housing authorities, or entities described in subdivision (a) of Section 50490 to issue funding in accordance with this chapter. The director shall ensure equitable geographic distribution throughout the state of any funds available under this chapter that are issued through a contract pursuant to this paragraph.
(c) Any guidelines or policies that the department adopts to implement this chapter shall not be subject to the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code).

50811.
 For purposes of this chapter:
(a) “Administering entity” means the department or an office or program within the department directed to implement this chapter. If the department contracts with an entity pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 50810, “administering entity” refers to that entity.
(b) “Department” mean the Department of Housing and Community Development.
(c) “Director” means the Director of Housing and Community Development.
(d) “Dwelling unit” has the same meaning as that term is defined in Section 1940 of the Civil Code. “Dwelling unit” does not include transient occupancy in a hotel, motel, residence club, or other facility as described in subdivision (b) of Section 1940 of the Civil Code.
(e) “Household” means the individual or individuals occupying a dwelling unit rented by the owner.
(f) “Inability to pay rent” means the inability to pay all or any part of the household’s rent due between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
(g) “Owner” has the same meaning as that term is defined in Section 1954.51 of the Civil Code.
(h) “Program” means the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program created by this chapter.

50812.
 A household shall be eligible for rental assistance under the program if both of the following criteria are satisfied:
(a) The household demonstrates an inability to pay rent due to COVID-19 or a state, local, or federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as determined pursuant to the process developed pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 50813.
(b) (1) The owner of the dwelling unit rented by the household agrees to participate in the program under Section 50813.
(2) Nothing in this chapter chapter, or any other provision of law law, shall be construed to require an owner to participate in the program.

50813.
 (a) (1) The department shall develop, and the program shall include, a process that complies with this chapter for an administering entity to confirm whether a household demonstrates inability to pay rent under subdivision (a) of Section 50812.
(2) A household may demonstrate an inability to pay rent by showing any of the following:
(A) Loss of income due to a COVID-19 related workplace closure.
(B) Childcare expenditures due to a COVID-19 related school closure.
(C) Health care expenses related to being ill with COVID-19 or to caring for a member of the household who is ill with COVID-19.
(D) Reasonable expenditures that stem from government-ordered emergency measures related to COVID-19.
(3) The process developed pursuant to this subdivision may also consider the household’s ability to pay rent based on any wage replacement provided to the household through programs that include, but are not limited to, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and federal relief or stimulus payments.
(b) The department shall develop a process for an administering entity to obtain the owner’s consent to participate in the program after confirming a household’s inability to pay rent.
(c) (1) An owner who consents to participate in the program shall be subject to all of the following:
(A) The owner shall not increase the gross rental rate for the dwelling unit of the household between the date the owner consents to participate in the program and December 31, 2020.
(B) The owner shall not charge or attempt to collect a late fee for any rent payment due between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
(C) The owner shall accept the payment provided pursuant to Section 50814, or existing funds from a city, county, or city and county, as full payment of the missed or insufficient rent payments for which the program provides assistance. An owner shall not file an unlawful detainer action based on nonpayment of rent with respect to any rental period for which the owner receives payment under Section 50814.
(2) This subdivision shall not be construed as a change to the gross rental rate under Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code or a reduction of rent under any local ordinance.

50814.
 (a) Each payment to an owner under the program shall equal at least 80 percent of the amount of rent owed by the household to the owner and shall specify which rental periods are covered by that payment. Upon issuing payment to an owner, the administering entity shall also provide a written notice of that payment to the household on whose behalf the payment is made.
(b) The rental assistance provided by the program shall cover no more than seven months of a household’s missed or insufficient rent payments.
(c) Rental assistance payments provided under this section shall not be considered a source of income under Section 12927 of the Government Code or under any local ordinance, nor shall it be considered a government rent subsidy under subdivision (o) of Section 12955 of the Government Code.

50815.
 (a) There is hereby created in the State Treasury the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Fund. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, all moneys in the fund shall be distributed to the department to carry out the purposes of this chapter. Any repayments, interest, or new appropriations shall be deposited in the fund, notwithstanding Section 16305.7 of the Government Code. Money in the fund shall not be subject to transfer to any other fund pursuant to any provision of Part 2 (commencing with Section 16300) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code, except to the Surplus Money Investment Fund.
(b) The program shall be implemented to the extent funding is made available through the Budget Act. It is the intent of the Legislature to prioritize the use of available federal funds before using General Fund moneys.

SEC. 3.

 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the California Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to provide immediate rental assistance to California tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.