San Jose’s moratorium on evictions will now run through June 30 after the City Council this week approved the extension along with a longer rent repayment period.
Tenants in San Jose will now have 12 months after the expiration of the eviction moratorium to pay back past-due rent.
The new law—initiated by Mayor Sam Liccardo—also bars landlords from ousting tenants for nonpayment for six months after the moratorium ends, as long as they pay back half of what they owe. The remainder would have to be repaid within a year.
The ordinance, however, does not prevent landlords and tenants from entering into voluntary agreements of their own. “This measure mitigates the strain on our neighbors who are most vulnerable to the economic impact of COVID-19, giving folks a better chance to meet the challenging times in the months ahead,” Liccardo explained in a press release sent to reporters Thursday morning.
Along with the newly-enacted rent repayment period, the San Jose council on Tuesday also approved a number of other tenant protections.
Landlords are now prohibited from charging or collecting late fees, interest or penalties during the moratorium. The provision aligns with Santa Clara County’s eviction moratorium, which bars fees for the duration and in the 120 after its expiration.
Landlords are also not allowed to retaliate or harass tenants for nonpayment.
“The first line of defense is really our legal system,” San Jose Deputy Housing Director Rachel VanderVeen explained. “So if someone is being harassed or retaliated against they can claim protection in court using this as their defense…I would say the second line to that is anyone who is experience these types of challenges can reach out to our offices.”
Councilwoman Maya Esparza, who has been a reliable voice for tenants rights on the council, asked city officials during the virtual meeting if they could consider endorsing Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) legislation that would offer relief to both renters and homeowners by cancelling rent and mortgage payments.
“When we’ve heard from landlords, they’ve talked about the burden that they have to carry and I think there’s some truth to that,” she said. “We haven’t seen the kind of action we’ve seen on mortgage relief that we saw with [Troubled Asset Relief Program] funds for example during the Great Recession.”
As part of the city’s budget process, which is reaching its final stages before the end of the fiscal year in June, the council will also consider lowering fees for landlords.