Santa Ana Imposes Residential & Commercial Eviction Moratorium
On March 19, 2020, Santa Ana’s Director of Emergency Services issued an Order imposing a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions in light of the COVID-19 epidemic. Santa Ana’s moratorium is more restrictive than the executive order issued by Governor Newsom as it applies to residential and commercial leases and contains greater protections for tenants. The significant points of the Moratorium are summarized below.
Residential Landlords are Prohibited from Serving Notices to Pay or Quit, or Commencing Eviction Lawsuits
A landlord is generally required to provide the tenant with a Notice to Pay or Quit before they may file an unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit. However, Santa Ana’s Order expressly prohibits landlords from taking any action to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, if the tenant can demonstrate they are unable to pay due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.
A landlord who knows the tenant cannot pay rent due to COVID-19 may not serve a 3-day notice to pay or quit, file or prosecute an unlawful detainer, or otherwise seek to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent.
What Residential Tenants Must Do
A landlord is deemed to know of the tenant’s inability to pay rent if the tenant notifies the landlord in writing within 30 days after the rent is due they cannot pay the full rent and provides documentation to support the claim.
Permissible justifications include, but are not limited to:
- The tenant being sick or caring for a family member who is sick with COVID-19;
- The tenant was laid-off, had their work hours reduced, or otherwise had an income reduction due to COVID-19;
- Extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; or
- The tenant missed work to care for a child whose school was closed in response to COVID-19.
Commercial Landlords are Prohibited from Charging Rent or Evicting Tenants Whose Businesses are Closed to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19
Santa Ana’s Order mandates commercial landlords may not charge rent or evict commercial tenants for nonpayment of rent for businesses who are limited or closed by COIVD-19, demonstrate lost income, and are unable to pay rent.
What Commercial Tenants Must Do
Similar to residential tenants, businesses must provide written notice to their landlord with appropriate supporting documentation. If a tenant suffers only a partial loss of income, the tenant must pay a pro-rata share of the rent normally due.
Order Provides a Defense to an Eviction Lawsuit
Santa Ana’s Order specifically grants tenants a defense in any eviction lawsuit commenced in violation of the Order. It also provides for punishment of the landlord pursuant to Santa Ana Municipal Code.
Nothing Changes the Amount of Rent Owed
Santa Ana’s Order requires all rent to be paid within 6 months of the expiration of the local emergency. However, landlords may not charge or collect a late fee for the past due rent and may not seek unpaid rent through the eviction process.
The Order is Set to Expire May 31, 2020
The executive order specifically expires on May 31, 2020, unless extended by the Governor of Santa Ana.
You can read the full text of Santa Ana’s Order here.
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