Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

City Hall issued an order Wednesday strengthening a temporary moratorium on evictions enacted last month in response to the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The original order City Manager Rick Cole signed March 14 protects renters from eviction if they prove with documentation that they cannot pay rent because they have been financially impacted by COVID-19. The order requires that tenants repay all deferred rent six months after the crisis is over. The moratorium was later broadened to protect businesses and prohibit Ellis Act evictions.

The revised supplemental order Cole signed Wednesday extends the end date for the moratorium to May 31, which may be extended again in the future, and requires landlords to notify tenants of the eviction moratorium by the end of April.

After the moratorium is lifted, a landlord may not evict a tenant who did not pay rent during the pandemic if the federal or state governments already compensated the landlord for the unpaid rent.

All no-fault evictions are prohibited — previously, only renters impacted by COVID-19 were protected from no-fault evictions — and landlords may not evict tenants who have unauthorized occupants or pets in their homes. Tenants can refuse to let their landlord enter their unit unless the landlord needs to remedy a dangerous situation.

Additionally, the fine landlords face for violating the city’s tenant harassment laws has been increased from $10,000 to $15,000.

“The city has strengthened its eviction moratorium to ensure that our community members – both tenants and businesses – can stay in their homes, restaurants, shops and offices during this emergency period, even if they are temporarily unable to pay rent,” Cole said.

Tenants must notify their landlord in writing of their inability to pay rent due to COVID-19 and its impacts and provide supporting documentation, said city spokesperson Constance Farrell. A form that can be used to provide the required notice is available here.

Tenants may file complaints about eviction activity in violation of the order with the Public Rights Division of the City Attorney’s Office at (310) 458-8336 or Consumer.Mailbox@smgov.net.

madeleine@smdp.com

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