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How Does The Coronavirus Affect Evictions In

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How Does The Coronavirus Affect Evictions In

For many Americans, the coronavirus feels similar to the 2008 financial crisis, an event that impacted our society and economy in lasting ways. A common concern for most Americans is being able to pay their rent and if they will have to face eviction lawsuits in their present future. There have been many proposals to stop evictions in Los Angeles County but nothing has been set in stone yet.

The Los Angeles Times reported on March 23, 2020:  "The FHFA announced earlier this month that Fannie and Freddie would provide payment forbearance for single-family residences provided that borrowers could demonstrate financial hardship from the spread of the novel coronavirus. Such forbearance could allow monthly mortgage payments to be suspended for as long as a year."

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on March 15, 2020, a Temporary Moratorium to offer relief for evictions for those who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19. The circumstances include :

1. Loss of income due to workplace closure or reduced hours due to COVID-19

2. Loss of income or child care expenditures due to school closures

3. Health care expenditures stemming from COVID-19 infection of the tenant or a member of the tenants household who is ill with COVID-19

4. Reasonable expenditures stemming from government ordered emergency measures.

Source: https://hcidla.lacity.org/covid-19-eviction-moratorium

However, the temporary moratorium does not prevent landlords from starting an eviction lawsuit against tenants. If you receive an eviction notice or a "notice to pay rent or quit" contact an attorney immediately. When you receive an eviction notice it is the beginning of the legal process and hiring an attorney will help you make the best decisions during this process.

We are facing times of uncertainty when it comes to COVID-19, but attorney Azuka L. Uzoh has the experience, expertise, and commitment to help with your legal concerns as they relate to coronavirus or otherwise. Please do not hesitate to contact or call 213-483-4020 to schedule a free consultation today.


How To Respond To An Unlawful Detainer Eviction Lawsuit In California

Unlawful Detainer Actions, also known as eviction proceedings, are established by law to ensure that landlords do not resort to self-help to remove a tenant who has violated a provision of his lease agreement, for example, by failure to pay rent, constituting a nuisance, etc.

In California, the law requires a landlord to give certain notices to a tenant before filing an unlawful detainer complaint in court to commence an eviction proceeding.

To succeed in an unlawful detainer action, a landlord must follow the eviction laws (Contained in California Code of Civil Procedures sections 1159-1179a) or he will be unsuccessful in his bid to evict a tenant.

In Los Angeles, where the Rent Stabilization Ordinance also applies, in addition to complying with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, a landlord whose rental property was built before 1978 and whose property has more than one unit will also have to comply with the rent control laws.

In one study in Philadelphia, it was found that tenants who are represented by lawyers are nineteen times more likely to win an eviction case than tenants who are not represented by lawyers.

Attorneys are able to defeat eviction cases because they know the many laws protecting a tenant from unlawful evictions. While many tenants know of the Uninhabitability Defense, many are not aware of the many other defenses the law puts in place to protect tenants.

Below are some of the defenses our law firm use to win eviction cases for our clients:

The Three Days Notice Demands Late Fees: Nonpayment of rent is the most common reason landlords evict tenants. While failure to pay rent is a valid ground to evict a tenant, the three days notice to pay rent or quit must not include late fees charged by the landlord for the tenants failure to pay rent timely. If a landlord includes late fees as the amount owed on the three days notice to pay rent or quit, a tenant may have judgment entered in his favor because the three days notice overstates the actual rent owed. Note, however, that if the rental agreement specifically allows a landlord to convert late fees to rent, this defense may not be available to a tenant.

The Three Days Notice Demands Rent for a Period of More than One Year: The law establishing the unlawful detainer proceeding provides that "the notice [three days notice to pay rent or quit] may be served at any time within one year after the rent becomes due." While it is uncommon for a landlord to leave a nonpaying tenant for more than one year without evicting them, thus eliminating the availability of this defense in most cases, this defense can be very powerful for tenants whose rents are subsidized by the Housing Authority. Sometimes, a landlord may ignore a Section 8 tenants failure to pay his portion of the rent, especially if it is negligible, for more than one year. If such landlord tries to evict a tenant for all the unpaid rents exceeding one years rent (of the tenants portion), he runs into a problem.

The Three Days Notice Demands for Rent That is Not Due: To successfully evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, the rent must be due to begin with. Therefore, if a landlord serves a notice to pay rent or quit the same day the rent is due (for example asking for two months rents on the first day of the second month the tenant failed to pay rent), a tenant may be able to defeat the unlawful detainer action. Also if the landlord has established a pattern of accepting rents paid untimely, and the lease does not contain an anti-waiver clause, then a defendant may argue that the operative due date is not the due date on the lease because the parties have changed the actual due date by their conduct. So if a landlord shows a pattern of accepting rents on the 20th day of the month, even though the lease agreement provides that rents are due on the 1st, a tenant may argue that the rent is not actually due if a landlord serves him a three days notice to pay rent or quit on the 1st.

The Building is Subject to LARSO But is Not Registered: The Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance requires landlords to register units that are under rent control in Los Angeles with HCIDLA. Landlords are also required to post notices on the property notifying occupants that the property is under rent control. The LARSO generally applies to properties built before or on October 1, 1978 and which have more than one unit on the lot. Note that it is a landlords obligation to show that he has registered the property as required by law. Note also that if a landlord converts a garage in a single family property in a premises to a residential unit, the additional unit, even though illegal, may subject the properties on the premises to LARSO. In such a case, a tenant may invite a housing inspector to the premises to give a notice stating that there are two units on the property. If a rental unit is under rent control, and it is not registered, a tenant will defeat a landlord who tries to evict the tenant from the unit.

A Landlord Increased the Rent Beyond the Maximum Allowed Under LARSO: The Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (LARSO) protects tenants from excessive rent increases, while at the same time allowing landlords to increase rent each year by a fair amount. Generally, a landlord can increase rent on a unit under rent control by only 3% every twelve months. If a landlord increases a tenants rent more than allowed by law, and the three days notice demands the illegal rent increase, such tenant can win the eviction case by bringing the Judges attention to this fact.

The Tenants Rent is Subsidized And The Three Days Notice Demands Housing Authoritys Portion of the Rent: This Defense is available for section 8 tenants. Often, the Housing Authority pays a portion of the rent(Housing Assistance Payment) and the tenant pays a portion assigned to them by the housing authority. A landlord can only demand from a tenant the portion due from the tenant. If, for example, the unit fails inspection and the Housing Authority withholds the landlords rent for a particular month, the landlord cannot evict a tenant on this ground. As far as the contract between the landlords and the Housing Authority is ongoing, a tenant is only responsible for their share of the rent and a three days notice that demands the HPA from the tenant is not valid.

The Tenant Was Unable to Contact the Landlord: The law requires a landlord to state how a tenant can pay his rent on the three days notice. Payments can be made personally or through a bank, etc. So if a landlord usually picks up rent himself but fails to do so on a given month and the three days notice does not state to whom payment should be made and where, this may be a ground for a tenant to challenge the eviction proceeding.

Plaintiff Is Not The Owner Or Does Not Have Right To Possession: Only a landlord has a right to evict a tenant. If a property has been sold by the owner with whom a tenant entered into a lease agreement, the previous owner cannot demand possession as he is not entitled to it. The new owner must also give notice to the tenant of the change in ownership before he can lawfully commence an eviction action against a tenant. The transition from a former owner to a new owner (if not done properly) may create an opportunity for a successful defense to an unlawful detainer action.

Accepting Rent After the Notice Expired: Although a three days notice to pay rent or quit requires a tenant to tender the rent within the three day period, a landlord who accepts rent after the three days notice has expired cannot evict a tenant relying on the notice. By accepting the rent, even though tendered untimely, the landlord waives his right to evict the tenant for that particular failure to pay rent.

The Notice Contains a Wrong Address: Sometimes, a landlord may make a mistake when stating the address for which possession is demanded. Where this is the case and the mistake leads to confusion, a tenant may successfully defeat an unlawful detainer action on this ground.

Prosecuting and Defending Unlawful Detainer Actions require highly specialized skills. The information above is a general overview of the law, does not provide for all exceptions, and may not apply to individual cases, and as such does not constitute legal advice. Laws change frequently and only a lawyer may advise you on what law may be applicable to your particular case at any given time. Our law firm prosecutes and defends unlawful detainer actions in Los Angeles and all the surrounding cities. Give us a call at 213-483-4020.