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On April 6, 2021, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors passed new COVID-19 eviction limits and rent controls.

Fake News: That’s what the local news media claimed and it scared many local landlords. All is not lost! That’s because the new law requires two public meetings and two votes. April 6 was the first one. The final meeting occurs on May 4 with the final vote immediately after.

The proposed county ordinance imposes new rent controls limiting most rent increases and evictions. The new law (if passed) applies to every city and unincorporated areas in San Diego County.

 

What Does the New San Diego County Eviction and Rent Controls Law Mean in 2021?

New COVID-19 Eviction

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the new law attempts to protect people adversely affected by the COVID-19. The new law limits evictions only to tenants for nonpayment of rents, or who become an imminent safety or health threat.

The new ordinance attempts to go around the state’s law that allows “just cause” evictions for lease violations. This is what angers landlords who want to continue with “just cause” evictions in San Diego County.

Another provision prevents landlords from evicting tenants if the landlord plans to move in or rehab the property. While allowed in the State of California the new ordinance would prevent these evictions in San Diego County which angers landlords.

 

Fierce Opposition from Apartment and Rental Home Owners Against 2021 San Diego County Rent and Evictions Controls

 

Two landlord groups fought the new ordinance.

One group, the Southern California Rental Housing Association (SCRHA) represents the region’s rental housing industry. The SCRHA argued that the ordinance would force good residents to suffer from problemed neighbors.

The second group, the California Apartment Association (CAA) represents the statewide rental housing community including:

  • Owners;
  • Developers;
  • Investors;
  • Suppliers; and
  • Managers.

The CAA fought the enactment of the new law by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. But, the CAAs’ efforts fell short when the supervisors preliminarily approved the new ordinance on a close 3 to 2 votes.

 

A Second Vote by the San Diego County Supervisors Required on May 4

Second Vote by the San Diego County Supervisors

The San Diego Union-Tribune points out that the proposed ordinance requires a second vote by the county supervisors on May 4 because of a procedural error.

Supervisor Nora Vargas introduced the ordinance as an emergency item requiring four votes to pass. Then, she changed it to a non-emergency one requiring three votes to pass and requiring a second public meeting with another vote to become law.

Thus, the next public hearing and vote are set for May 4.  

So, the CAA and the SCRHA groups will get a second shot at defeating the ordinance. Plus, they can argue in favor of proposed amendments.

 

What Happened at the April 6 San Diego County Supervisors Meeting?

 

San Diego County passed new COVID-19 eviction limits and rent controls for 2021 during the April meeting. The second meeting occurs on May 4 for final approval.

According to the Tribune, Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer will propose an amendment allowing evictions for “repeated and prolonged” nuisances. Also, a second amendment allowing landlords owning two or fewer homes to evict tenants if the landlord wants to move in.

Supervisor Vargas argued that state laws didn’t go far enough to protect tenants from eviction if a landlord decides to remodel the unit. She claimed that San Diego County landlords abuse loopholes in California laws allowing them to evict tenants during the COVID-19 eviction moratorium.

Only 200 people attended the April 6 meeting including renters, community activists, and small landlords. Renters claimed they faced eviction despite the state’s eviction moratorium protections. Small landlords argued they suffered during the eviction moratorium and limits on rent increases and shouldn’t suffer more financial burdens.

Art Moses, a small landlord renting one downtown San Diego condo, claimed he tried to work with his tenant who lost her income during the pandemic. But he stated it put a large financial burden on him. He thinks the new ordinance will put small landlords out of business.

According to Channel 8 News (CBS8), one landlord spoke up at the meeting claiming: “We continue to pay taxes, utilities, insurance, and plow a good amount of what we make into the assets to maintain them”.

 

More Input Needed from San Diego County Landlords before May 4 Meeting

 

During the April meeting, Supervisor Jim Desmond pointed out that the supervisors did not consult with enough landlords about this ordinance.

Voting for the ordinance: Nora Vargas, Terra Lawson-Remer, and Chair Nathan Fletcher.

Voting against the ordinance: Jim Desmond and Joel Anderson.

With greater publicity, more people should attend the May 4 meeting.

 

How Long Will this Ordinance Last if Approved?

This law remains in effect until 60 days after the governor’s stay-at-home order due to COVID-19 ends.

On the same day as the ordinance’s first approval, Governor Gavin Newsom declared that the color-coded curfew system ends by June 15. So, if passed, this ordinance may end two months after.

About the three-color coded system, San Diego County recently moved from the most restrictive red color to the second lesser restrictive orange. Yellow is the least restrictive allowing most businesses to open.

 

Are Rents Forgiven in the Proposed San Diego County Ordinance?

 

No, rents are not forgiven under the proposed new county ordinance.

The proposed county ordinance limits rent increases until July 1st. Rents can’t increase more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures inflation. Last January, the CPI for San Diego County was 1.7 percent annually.

San Diego County’s rent for all housing types averaged $1,909 per month. That was an increase by 3.3 percent over the past year’s fourth quarter according to CoStar, a real estate analytics company.

Learn more about California’s rent control laws. Read our blog posts titled: California Rent Control Laws.

 

What about California’s Statewide Moratorium on Evictions?

Governor Newsom set a June 30th end to the current eviction’s moratorium. However, that date may extend if the pandemic expands.

Read all about the California Moratorium Law in 2021 in our blog post: What is the New California Eviction Moratorium Law 2021?

Learn more about dealing with California renters’ payments:

Read our blog post explaining How to Evict a Problem Tenant in California;

Also, our post about What to do when your California tenants pay rent late; and

Our blog post How to Collect Rent Payments.

 

Conclusion

 

On April 6th and 7th, local news media blared out headlines like “San Diego County passed new COVID-19 eviction and rent controls” panicking local landlords.

After lots of newspapers sold and more televisions tuned into local news broadcasts on April 6 and 7, the truth prevailed.

The April 6 meeting was only the first of two required public hearings and votes by the San Diego County Supervisors before becoming law.

 

What can San Diego County landlords do now?

  • Publicize the importance of the May 4 supervisor’s public hearing and final vote;
  • Lobby the five supervisors about your opinions; and
  • Attend the meeting on May 4 with your family and friends and speak out.

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California and San Diego County ready to Open for Business On June 15

 

Now is the time to prepare for San Diego County businesses opening up again. New jobs create a migration of new tenants. Hire an experienced property management company to help you prepare for it.

WeLease offers you complete property management services including advertising for new tenants to screening them and signing lease agreements.

Contact us now to get ready for the upcoming tenant migration in the greater San Diego area.

 

Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger

 

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