By Kristine Lazar

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Renters will now have rent relief through January under a new law signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Under the new state eviction moratorium, tenants will have to pay at least 25 percent of their rent from Sept. 1 onward. Landlords will not be able to evict tenants for unpaid rent from last March through September, though they can take them to small claims court to recoup that money, starting March 1, 2021 .

But both tenants rights advocates and landlord lobbyist groups say federal relief is needed so tenants like April Davis can pay their rents and landlords can stay afloat.

Davis thought her luck was turning around – after both she and her husband lost their jobs due to COVID, she received notice that they were being awarded $2,000 through the city’s emergency rent relief program.

But they soon learned that in order to get the money, their landlord would have to sign a waiver, saying he wouldn’t raise their rent for a full year after the city’s emergency order expires.

He refused.

“We have been lucky that we have been paying our rent,” said Davis. “We have budgeted, but we also budgeted this $2,000 to help us out.”

Tenants’ rights activist Larry Gross says his office has seen this happen to other renters, and there is not much they can do.

“Unfortunately, the money goes directly to the landlord from the city, and if the landlord is refusing to take the money, the city can’t force them to take it,” Gross said.

The California Apartment Association says mom-and-pop landlords are struggling too – at risk of losing their properties with tenants now not required to start paying full rent until February 2021.

“When rental housing providers go without rental income, that makes it difficult for them to pay their rent, pay their mortgage and provide for their own employees,” said Joshua Howard of the California Apartment Association.

The city of Los Angeles has a stronger eviction moratorium than what the state passed last night. The city ordinance says tenants do not need to pay partial rent. But it’s still unclear if the city law will supersede the state one.

Kristine Lazar

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