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SB-847 COVID-19 relief: tenancy: grant program.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 01/13/2022 09:00 PM
SB847:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 847


Introduced by Senator Hurtado

January 13, 2022


An act to add and repeal Chapter 17.1 (commencing with Section 50897.9) to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to tenancy.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 847, as introduced, Hurtado. COVID-19 relief: tenancy: grant program.
Existing law, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, until October 1, 2025, establishes procedural requirements and limitations on evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 rental debt, as defined. Existing law, among other things, prohibits a tenant that delivers to a landlord or files with the court a declaration, under penalty of perjury, of COVID-19-related financial distress, as defined, from being deemed in default with regard to the COVID-19 rental debt, as prescribed.
Existing law, the State Rental Assistance Program, establishes a program for providing rental assistance, using funding made available pursuant to federal law, administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development.
This bill would, until January 1, 2025, create a grant program under the administration of the department and would require the department to award a program grant, as defined, to a qualified applicant who submits a complete application, as defined, on a first-come, first-served basis. The bill would define “qualified applicant” to mean a landlord who satisfies certain criteria, including that the landlord has applied for rental assistance funds pursuant to the State Rental Assistance Program and either received a negative final decision, as specified, or the landlord has been notified that an application to the State Rental Assistance Program was submitted, as specified, but 20 days have passed without a final decision being rendered. The bill would also establish a fund, the moneys in which would be available upon appropriation by the Legislature for the purposes of awarding program grants to qualified applicants.
This bill would require a complete application to include, among other things, a statement, signed under penalty of perjury, by the landlord making certain attestations, including that a program grant constitutes full satisfaction of the tenant’s obligation to the landlord with respect to the COVID-19 rental debt, as defined. By expanding the scope of the crime of perjury, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) As of July 2021, more than 1,800,000 property owners were behind on their mortgages. Many of these property owners are landlords. When federal mortgage forbearance ends, these landlords may be forced to remove their rental units from the market and sell them in order to avoid foreclosure.
(b) The State Rental Assistance Program (program) provides rental assistance only for tenants who make less than or equal to 80 percent of the area median income. There are still many landlords with tenants who are behind on their rent and who will not qualify for any form of government rental assistance because they earned too much money to qualify for the program.
(c) Although the program has been accepting rental assistance applications for most of 2021, payment to landlords and tenants, especially small landlords who are in desperate financial straits, has been untenably slow.
(d) Some tenants have claimed a COVID-19 hardship and yet do not qualify for rental assistance. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act (CTRA) self-certification process allows only tenants to state their cases with no ability for landlords to challenge a self-certification of COVID-19-related financial distress.
(e) Upon the expiration of CTRA, tenants with rental debt who do not qualify for the program may face small claims judgments that will unnecessarily burden their financial stability.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 17.1 (commencing with Section 50897.9) is added to Part 2 of Division 31 of the Health and Safety Code, to read:
CHAPTER  17.1. COVID-19 Tenancy Grant Program

50897.9.
 As used in this chapter:
(a) “Complete application” means an application for a program grant that satisfies all of the provisions of Section 50897.11.
(b) “Covered time period” means the time period between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021.
(c) “COVID-19 rental debt” means unpaid rent or any other unpaid financial obligation of a tenant under the tenancy that came due during the covered time period.
(d) “Department” means the Department of Housing and Community Development.
(e) “Landlord” means any of the following or the agent of any of the following:
(1) An owner of residential real property.
(2) An owner of a residential rental unit.
(3) An owner of a mobilehome park.
(4) An owner of a mobilehome park space or lot.
(f) “Program grant” means a grant of an amount equal to 100 percent of a COVID-19 rental debt owed to a qualified applicant.
(g) “Qualified applicant” means a landlord who satisfies any of the following criteria:
(1) The landlord has applied for rental assistance funds pursuant to the State Rental Assistance Program and either of the following is true:
(A) The landlord has been notified of a negative final decision pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (r) of Section 50897.1.
(B) The landlord has been notified pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (r) of Section 50897.1 that a completed application for rental assistance has been submitted by the landlord or the tenant, and both of the following are true:
(i) Twenty days have passed since the application was submitted.
(ii) A final decision on the application has not been rendered.
(2) The landlord has obtained a civil money judgment against a tenant for COVID-19 rental debt.
(h) “State Rental Assistance Program” means the rental assistance program created by Chapter 17 (commencing with Section 50897), including Option A, Option B, and Option C grantees.

50897.10.
 (a) The COVID-19 Tenancy Grant Program is hereby created under the administration of the department.
(b) The department shall award a program grant to a qualified applicant who submits a complete application on a first-come, first-served basis.
(c) A program grant awarded pursuant to this section shall be deemed to satisfy a civil money judgment for COVID-19 rental debt that is the subject of the application with respect to which the grant was awarded.

50897.11.
 An application for a program grant submitted to the department shall meet all of the following criteria:
(a) The application shall include an explanation as to why the landlord is a qualified applicant and any of the following evidence, if applicable, supporting that explanation:
(1) Proof that a landlord applied to the State Rental Assistance Program.
(2) Proof of a final decision rendered by the State Rental Assistance Program.
(3) A copy of a civil judgment against the tenant.
(b) The application shall include a statement, signed under penalty of perjury, by the landlord attesting to both of the following:
(1) A program grant constitutes full satisfaction of the tenant’s obligation to the landlord with respect to the COVID-19 rental debt.
(2) The amount requested in the application is the actual amount of COVID-19 rental debt owed by the tenant.

50897.12.
 A landlord who receives a program grant pursuant to this chapter shall return the amount of that grant to the department if the landlord receives money from the State Rental Assistance Program for the tenant and property for which the program grant was awarded.

50897.13.
 (a) The COVID-19 Tenancy Grant Program Fund is hereby established within the Treasury.
(b) Moneys in the fund shall be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for the purpose of awarding program grants to qualified applicants pursuant to this chapter.

50897.14.
 (a) The department may adopt, amend, and repeal rules, guidelines, or procedures necessary to administer the provisions of this chapter.
(b) The adoption, amendment, or repeal of rules, guidelines, or procedures authorized by this subdivision are exempt from 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).

50897.15.
 This chapter shall remain in effect until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.