UNION CITY — In a bid to help people stay in their homes and protect businesses amid unprecedented coronavirus-forced shutdowns, Union City leaders Tuesday adopted a temporary ban on evictions for residential and commercial renters, joining some other cities around the state which have taken similar action.
The ban was approved unanimously by the City Council at Tuesday nights meeting, went into effect immediately, and will last until May 31, or until the expiration of local or state emergency declarations, whichever is later, staff reports said.
It will protect any residential or commercial tenant from being evicted for not paying their rent where the failure to pay rent is from income loss resulting from the coronavirus, staff reports said.
The ban on evictions will not waive rent payments, only delay them, city staff said. After the end of the ban period, renters will have 90 days to pay any back-due rent.
City leaders are taking advantage of Gov. Gavin Newsoms executive order issued last week giving local governments the authority to issue such temporary moratoriums on evictions.
Some tenant advocacy groups had criticized Newsom for not mandating a statewide ban, instead leaving it to cities or counties to put in piecemeal protections.
Some other cities around the Bay Area and state, including Palo Alto, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, have already passed similar bans to help ensure people dont lose their homes or businesses during the statewide shelter-in-place orders, and as a way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus.
Renters in Union City will need to notify their landlords within 10 days after their next rent payment is due that they wont be able to pay because of a coronavirus-related issue.
The first draft of the city ordinance would have allowed for 30 days after the next rent was due to notify a landlord, but the city council shortened it to 10 days.
The Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County, a lobbying group for landlords, wrote to city officials before the meeting asking for the 30-day period to be shortened to 5 days.
The association also asked the city to require renters to pay about 20 percent of any back-due rent by 45 days after the ban was lifted, but the council rejected that suggestion, and noted landlords would likely be able to receive federal assistance for lost income due to coronavirus.
That’s pretty tough, Mayor Carol Durtra-Vernaci said at the meeting about the associations suggestion.
Because if a family isn’t able to pay their rent because they haven’t been working, and to get caught up, especially if the landlords are going to be able to have relief from the federal government, I think 90 days is fine.
Other cities bans, including Los Angeles, give tenants more time to pay back-due rent than Union Citys.
City staff reports said some of the reasons a residential tenant might not be able to pay rent include contracting the COVID-19 illness, caring for a household or family member with the disease, as well as work closures and layoffs or reductions in hours.
Businesses may likely have to be closed altogether, or have a major reduction in operating hours as well as consumer demand, all leading to a loss of business income, staff reports said.
Any documents showing loss of income or any kind of medical documentation that a tenant provides to a landlord as part of this process must be held in strict confidence, City Attorney Kris Kokotaylo told the council.
The documents cannot be used for any other purpose but evaluating whether the tenants situation applies under the ordinance, he said.