Kern County to follow Governor’s eviction moratorium; housing advocates push for stricter eviction bans

March 30, 2020 /

Kern County will follow Governor Gavin Newsom’s eviction moratorium announced last week, Supervisor Leticia Perez said at the press conference Monday morning.

Newsom announced a two-month delay on evictions for those who are unable to pay rent as a result of the virus. Newsom’s executive order covers people who have lost work and those who need to care for their children and loved ones as a result of COVID-19.

“This is serious,” she said. “We should not put people in more stress by telling them we are going to kick them out on the street.”

Renters will have to eventually pay the rent they owe come June. If they don’t, landlords can evict renters for not paying the rent they owe.

However, Newsom’s order allows local government to pass stricter evictions bans, and that is what local advocates are hoping for.

Advocates are urging the supervisors to take action to protect renters as much as possible.

“Bold, decisive and swift action to ensure that residents are able to remain in their homes during this time is necessary to minimize the spread of the virus, protect public health, and avoid potentially long-lasting and devastating consequences of the pandemic,” says a letter submitted to the Board of Supervisors members by Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, a local nonprofit that advocates for equitable land use.

In the letter, advocates urge the supervisors to take action at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on March 31 to exceed Newsom’s executive order.

The advocates make the following recommendations:

  1. A prohibition on all residential evictions, including mobile home parks, and foreclosures during the state of emergency.
  2. A prohibition on assessing late fees for the duration of the moratorium.
  3. A requirement that all residential landlords extend expiring leases until at least three months after the last day the emergency declaration is in effect.
  4. A requirement that all landlords and residential mortgage holders develop and implement payment plans to allow financially impacted tenants and homeowners a reasonable amount of time to become current on rent or mortgage payments.
  5. A prohibition on all small business evictions during the state of emergency.
  6. Adoption of proactive measures to notify residential and small business tenants of their rights and resources available to them during the state of emergency, such as through inclusion of multilingual notices in utility bills, social media, televised news, and other outlets.
  7. Establish an emergency relief fund to support residents experiencing financial hardships with emergency rental and mortgage assistance as well as basic resources including drinking water and groceries.

Perez said Newsom’s moratorium requires tenants who cannot pay rent due to COVID-19 to declare in writing within seven days of nonpayment they can not pay all or part of their rent; however, Perez encourages those who can pay to continue paying their rent because “matters will proceed when it’s over.”

Perez said people will eventually have to pay back the rent they owe. She encourages people in this situation to call her office at (661) 868-3690, so her team can work on a case by case baisis.

Perez said she plans to work out compromises with landlords and their tenants to keep people in their homes.

“When this is over, and it will be over, we will work through those matters as a community,” she said. 

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez is the program associate for South Kern Sol. She can be reached at elizabeth@southkernsol.org.