• A moving truck on street

      Moving out on El Molino in Pasadena (File Photo – Emmanuel Kraultez).

      At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, in large part due to pressure from tenant organizers in the community, the Pasadena City Council adopted a COVID-19 related protection measure for Pasadena tenants, Ordinance No. 7363. A smart move for public health, the ordinance provided robust eviction protections for tenants and kept people in their homes at an uncertain time. On April 11, 2022, Pasadena City Council voted 6-1 to terminate the protections given by the ordinance starting at the beginning of July. This was made official on May 2, 2022.

      By Nathaniel Sagman

      The purpose of this article is to make clear to tenants and members of the wider Pasadena community that there are still protections in place related to COVID-19, and to explain the laws with some clarity. The main point I want to highlight is that until the end of the year, tenants have protections against most no-fault evictions and, if financially impacted due to COVID-19, from eviction due to non-payment of rent.

      If you receive an eviction notice or any unreasonable demand from your landlord, do not self-evict and simply move out. Read this article, but also seek out help from your community through resources such as the Pasadena Tenants Union. The website stayhousedla.org serves everyone in Los Angeles County, in nine languages. It offers information on current laws, details about free legal clinics, and free legal help if needed and if you qualify.

      Before continuing, I should make clear that I’m a volunteer organizer with the Pasadena Tenants Union and that I have zero formal legal training. Through the tenants union, I’ve been assisting tenants in Pasadena facing various housing issues, and I’ve been working closely with attorneys from the Eviction Defense Network. For this article I’ve consulted with staff from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. That being said, any mistakes are my own. Moreover, tenant protections in the state and county have been in flux since March 2020, so I emphasize that the content here reflects the state of things at the time of writing.

      As I’ll explain below, county protections are set to expire on December 31, 2022. The chances of an extension are very slim. A large number of units in Pasadena will be vulnerable to certain evictions for the first time since March 2020. So, it’s an appropriate time to note that there’s a charter amendment on the ballot for November 8, 2022 that would establish rent control and no-fault eviction protections in Pasadena. If the charter amendment passes, it will take effect on January 1 and keep some units protected. Please vote yes if you’re invested in the well-being of tenants in the community.

      Ordinance No. 7363 had two main eviction protections. No landlord can evict a tenant for:

      1. non-payment of rent if the tenant is financially impacted due to COVID-19, or
      2. a no-fault eviction, unless necessary for health and safety of other tenants, neighbors, or the landlord.

      A no-fault eviction is what it sounds like: an eviction where the tenant has not explicitly broken the lease. In spite of economic recession and a lack of resources for those who have lost income, the unpaid rent is not forgiven but becomes debt. The unpaid rent is due six months after the expiry of the ordinance, so it should be paid by the end of December 2022.

      Independent of the pandemic, the state Tenant Protection Act (Assembly Bill 1482) is in effect until 2030. This applies to multi-family residential units (like apartment buildings) but not to single-family homes (unless corporate owned). There are a number of exemptions, as outlined in a fact sheet like this one (click to view). In terms of evictions, for eligible units, The Tenant Protection Act prevents no-fault evictions “without just cause.” That is, there are certain admissible reasons that a landlord can give for a no-fault eviction, such as owner move-ins, or taking the unit permanently off the rental market.

      The current main defense for Pasadena tenants is LA County’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution. This was formerly called the LA County Eviction Moratorium, and, like other organizers, I’m glad the county is no longer using the term ”moratorium”. Nothing in any of these laws prevents a landlord from attempting to carry out an eviction. Instead, the tenant protections give a number of affirmative defenses in court.

      If you receive court documents (such as a summons and complaint), you still have to:

      • find an attorney to represent you,
      • respond (file an answer), and
      • defend yourself in court based on the tenant protections.

      If you can’t find an attorney in time, please contact the tenants union at info@pasadenatenantsunion.org. There are tools out there to help file an answer without an attorney, and this will help buy you some time.

      Under the county’s COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution, for residential tenants, a landlord cannot carry out a no-fault eviction until December 31, 2022, except for some small exceptions. This applies to any person renting residential real property or a lot in a mobile home park. It explicitly states that no-fault evictions for the purpose of demolition or substantially remodeling the property are not allowed.

      Pasadena’s Ordinance No. 7363 gave eviction protections for tenants who could not pay the rent up to June 30.

      Starting in July, we must use the county protections. Under the county resolution, a residential tenant whose income is at most 80% of the area median income (AMI) cannot currently be evicted for non-payment of rent due between July 1 and December 31, 2022 if they are financially impacted by COVID-19 and unable to pay rent. For tenants below 80% AMI, the rent for July 1 to December 31 must be paid by December 31, 2023, unless extended by the LA County Board of Supervisors. The tenant must provide notice to the landlord that they have been financially impacted and self-certify their income level.

      What counts as a financial impact is listed in the text of the resolution, and this includes

      1. contracting COVID-19, or caring for a household member who has COVID-19;
      2. lay-off, or loss of work hours or income;
      3. compliance with an order to stay home or quarantine for health reasons;
      4. medical expenses related to COVID-19; or
      5. childcare needs arising from school closures related to COVID-19.

      To certify income, one should look at the income limits set out by the California Department of Housing and Community Development here (click to view).

      If your landlord is able to evict you for a no-fault reason, you may qualify for relocation assistance. For Pasadena tenants we have the Tenant Protection Ordinance. Information can be found in the Tenant Protection section of the city’s Housing Department website. The Tenant Protection Act and the LA County resolution also have relocation assistance requirements. The amount you get depends on your specific situation, so we suggest you contact the Housing Rights Center or the Pasadena Tenants Union for help with this.

      Nathaniel Sagman is a member organizer and tenant counselor with the Pasadena Tenants Union.


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