A statewide eviction moratorium will continue after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a last-minute bill approved by lawmakers on Monday, the final day of the legislative session.

The legislation prevents any tenant who has lost the ability to pay rent due to COVID-19 from being evicted until Feb. 1, 2021. The tenant must provide a written declaration of hardship in order to comply with the new law. From September through January, tenants must also pay at least 25 percent of their rent to avoid eviction.

Foreclosure protections were also included in the bill.

“COVID-19 has impacted everyone in California — but some bear much more of the burden than others, especially tenants struggling to stitch together the monthly rent, and they deserve protection from eviction,” Newsom said in a statement. “This new law protects tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent and helps keep homeowners out of foreclosure as a result of economic hardship caused by this terrible pandemic.”

He continued by calling on the federal government to provide new funding for rental assistance for tenants and homeowners throughout the country.

Assembly Bill 3088 replaced a more protective bill that did not require renters to make any payments or require a written declaration. During a Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, housing advocates spoke out against AB 3088 and urged supervisors to take stronger action to protect renters and homeowners.

“We’re living through a housing and public health crisis that requires bold, courageous, action from our political leaders and AB 3088 is a pathetic excuse for bold, courageous, action,” one woman, identified as Alyssa Bernardino, said. “How are we expecting everyday people of Kern County, people with families to feed and bills to pay, to afford their housing once this is over, after they’ve been out of a job for months?”

The advocates asked supervisors to enact a local eviction moratorium, along with providing utility assistance and funds for legal counsel for those facing eviction.

AB 3088, however, blocks municipalities from enacting their own eviction moratoriums. Kern County and the city of Bakersfield have also provided $10 million in CARES Act funding for rental relief.

At Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors did not take action to address the advocates’ requests.

Although eviction has been suspended in most cases, rent is still due. AB 3088 allows landlords to sue for unpaid rent through small claims court beginning in March.

Evictions unrelated to rent can begin today under the new law.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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