Nearly 685,000 people have lost their jobs in Los Angeles County since the pandemic began in March 2020. With an unemployment rate of 19.6% in the City of Los Angeles and with more than 60% of families renting their homes, it has been exceedingly difficult for tenants to pay their rent. Mayor Garcetti has passed protective measures such as the Los Angeles eviction moratoriums for residences and businesses, but many Los Angeles tenants still remain overwhelmed and struggle to pay back rent. As a result, landlords have been placed in the difficult position of losing a substantial part of the revenue on which they rely to support their own families.
On Wednesday, July 8, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed a new Emergency Renters Assistance Program, which is a $103 million rent assistance program. The majority of funding for this program will come from the federal CARES Act (i.e., the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). The Emergency Renters Assistance Program will provide a temporary rent subsidy for eligible tenants who cannot pay rent due to financial circumstances caused by COVID-19. Eligible tenants are those individuals who were below the low-to-moderate income limit prior to the pandemic. The program will subsidize up to $1000 per month per household and provide a maximum total subsidy of $2,000 per household. The city will determine the amount of rent allowed based on a household’s monthly rent in March, 2020.
The subsidy will be paid directly to the tenant’s landlord on behalf of the tenant. This ensures that landlords will receive at least a portion of the back rent owed to them. Landlords must meet the following three requirements to receive the subsidy:
- The landlord may not charge any interest or late fees for rent owed;
- The landlord may not evict the tenant for 6 months after expiration of Declaration of Local Emergency due to COVID-19; and
- The landlord may not to impose a rent increase during the repayment period (one-year period after expiration of Declaration).
To qualify for the subsidy, applicants must be residents of the City of Los Angeles who are renting multi-family units (immigration status is irrelevant). Only one application per household is permitted. Applicants must also be financially eligible to receive the subsidy, so that their total household income prior to the pandemic must be at, or below 80% of the Area Median Income:
- For a household of 1 person, the income limit is $58,450.
- For a household of 2 people, the income limit is $66,800.
- For a household of 3 people, the income limit is $75,150.
- For a household of 4 people, the income limit is $83,500.
- For a household of 5 people, the income limit is $90,200.
- For a household of 6 people, the income limit is $96,900.
- For a household of 7 people, the income limit is $103,550.
- For a household of 8 people, the income limit is $110,250.
Moreover, applicants must prove that they suffered financial hardship caused directly by COVID-19. Applicants are eligible to receive the subsidy for any of the following reasons:
- The applicant has lost income due to workplace closure or reduced hours;
- The applicant has lost income or has additional childcare costs due to school/daycare closures;
- The applicant has medical costs for themselves or for household members who are ill with COVID-19; or
- The applicant has lost income due to government-ordered emergency measures after March 13, 2020.
Once the application period closes, applicants will be randomly selected and notified by email or phone and asked to submit documentation to prove eligibility. If selected, applicants must provide all of the following information:
- Proof of residency in the City of Los Angeles (i.e. identification card);
- Proof of tenancy (i.e. lease, rental agreement);
- Proof of household income (i.e. tax return, 1099); and
- Documentation of loss or reduced income after March 13, 2020, due to COVID-19 (i.e. layoff letter).
If not selected, applicants will be placed on a waiting list and their applications will be placed on-file so that they will be able to receive subsidies should future funds become available. The Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department will begin accepting applications on Monday, July 13 at 8:00 AM through Friday, July 17 at 11:59 PM. Residents can apply online for the subsidy or by calling (844) 944-1868, from Monday, July 13 at 8:00 AM through Friday, July 17 at 10:00 PM. Applicants with hearing or speech impairments can apply by calling (844)325-1398, during those same hours. The City of Los Angeles is also accepting donations for struggling renters in Los Angeles.
All landlords who have tenants that owe them back rent should look into whether they qualify for this program. Landlords should retain an attorney knowledgeable about landlord/tenant law to answer any questions you have about the requirements and procedures for application.
Eileen Kendall of Kendall Law has over 15 years of experience dealing with these very issues. For a consultation contact Kendall Law or call (310) 619-4941.