Santa Monica has extended the City’s Eviction Moratorium until Sept. 30, providing relief for tenants and frustration for small landlords.

The City made this decision on June 24 in order to align with the recently extended County moratorium, and to give landlords and tenants time to apply to the statewide rental assistance program, which is reported to have over $5 billion dollars in rental assistance funds available.

On June 25, Governor Newsom announced that he had reached an agreement with leaders of the state Senate and Assembly to also extend the state’s moratorium to Sept. 30. Newsom additionally outlined a plan for the state’s rental relief fund to cover 100 percent of back rent owed by low-income households.

The City’s eviction moratorium is broader in scope than the state’s, as it not only blocks evictions from non-payment of rent, but also from nuisance, unauthorized occupants/pets, and no-fault termination of tenancy. The City did not extend eviction protection for denial of entry into a unit, and that protection will expire on June 30.

Under the anticipated state moratorium extension, tenants will have until Sept 30, 2022 to pay rent that becomes due between July 1 through Sept. 30, 2021. To continue to receive eviction protection for non-payment of rent, tenants must submit a declaration to their landlord each month and pay at least 25 percent of rent due.

In order to qualify for the state’s rent relief, tenants must have incurred a financial hardship due to Covid-19, demonstrate a risk of housing instability such as a past due rent notice, and have a household income that is not more than 80 percent of the Area Median Income.

The qualifying income for Santa Monica, and the rest of LA County, is $66,250 for a household of one, $75,700 for a household of two, $85,150 for a household of three, and $94,600 for a household of four. Both landlord and tenants can apply for the rent relief program by visiting housingiskey.com.

Santa Monica residents who are facing eviction attempts and have the qualifying income are eligible for free legal assistance through the City’s Right to Counsel project. This resource can be accessed by visiting stayhousedla.org.

Tenants who do not meet qualifying income requirements and are struggling with back-rent are encouraged to communicate directly with their landlord to try and reach an agreement. The Straus Institute at Pepperdine’s Caruso School of Law is offering free mediation services to commercial and residential landlords and tenants.

Assuming the Eviction Moratorium does not get extended again, landlords will be able to pursue evictions for non-payment of rent that becomes due during or after Oct 2021.

Tenants who do not receive rent relief funds or reach an agreement with their landlord will still owe all back-rent accumulated under the moratorium after it expires. Although this back rent cannot be used as grounds for an eviction — if tenants meet the declaration and 25 percent payment requirements — landlords can pursue it through small claims court.

Clara@smdp.com