Counties Try to Stop 'Eviction Tsunami'

State lawmakers are hopeful that a deal to extend California’s eviction moratorium can be struck before it expires next week. But nothing is set in stone and it’s not entirely clear what the parameters of a future agreement will be. As a result, cities and counties are taking matters into their own hands.

Santa Clara County unanimously passed an eviction moratorium for unincorporated areas on Tuesday. Lessees will be protected through Sept. 30. Supervisor Otto Lee said the June 30th expiration for the state’s moratorium forced the county to act. He wishes supervisors had the authority to implement it countywide.

Los Angeles County also extended its pause on evictions Tuesday. Renters who cannot pay because of hardships caused by COVID-19 pandemic will be protected in LA County through the end of September. There is an exception in the case of single-family homes when the landlord becomes the occupant.

Desperate landlords pleaded with the LA County Board of Supervisors not to extend the moratorium, arguing they are also facing financial hardship and have been deeply affected by the loss of rents.

“This has to end,” one lessor told the Board. “As a landlord myself, my children get food on the table by being able to collect rent. Not only have I not been able to collect rent, but my payments on the property leave me upside down.”

Housing experts have been fearing a coming “eviction tsunami” if the state’s moratorium is not extended. A PolicyLink analysis found 900,000 California households are behind on their rent. An average of $4,600 are in arrears.