Tenants fear homelessness as eviction protection expiration looms

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip and Simone Chavoor KGO logo
Thursday, June 25, 2020
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Tenants unable to pay rent because of the pandemic were protected by eviction moratoriums -- some of which are about to expire.

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- Several local eviction moratoriums expire at the end of this month, leaving tenants with an uncertain future.

Lana Gasparyan is one of many tenants who fears the worst.

The Sausalito woman holds up a threatening letter taped to her front door by her landlord at Ridgeway Apartments.

"If I can't pay, they probably want me to be evicted," she says.

RELATED: Eviction moratoriums around the Bay Area during coronavirus pandemic: Ordinances city by city

Gasparyan submitted to her landlord the requested documentation that she had been furloughed and her kids were home from school. She tells us she paid the rent in April, but still owes for May and June.

But in a letter dated June 12, her landlord wrote: "I understand you have decided to participate in a rent strike. Your decision will make a bad problem worse. We will have to take necessary legal action."

"I don't know what's going to be after," Gasparyan said. "I don't know what's gonna, what's gonna happen. I am afraid that I'm gonna lose my apartment. I'm afraid I can come home homeless."

On Tuesday, moratoriums on evictions will be lifted in San Jose, as well as the counties of San Mateo and Marin.

Gasparyan will still be protected under a statewide ban issued by the State Judicial Council which runs the court system, but the council has considered lifting that ban soon.

Tom Bannon of the California Apartment Association supports that idea.

"A lot of people thought that evictions just took place and that's not the case," Bannon said. "You have to go to court. Everybody has to have their say."

"That creates a lot of uncertainty, and in our opinion, even unnecessary stress that can be addressed on the front end," said Josh Sullivan of Legal Aid of Marin. He assists tenants for the non-profit.

Sullivan supports a bill from Assemblyperson David Chiu that would give tenants at least another 15 months to pay any back rent caused by the pandemic.

That clock would start after Governor Newsom lifts his emergency order.

"Tenants should not be immediately evicted simply because it can't pay back rent. It is a lose-lose for tenants and for landlords," Chiu believes.

AB 1436 has already passed the Assembly.

If it gets that far, it wouldn't likely go to the full Senate until late July.

Some landlords say 15 months is too much time.

"There are states of emergencies that had been in place for two years, three years, and so it's once that state of emergency has ended is when that 15 month clock begins to tick," Bannon said.

Gasparyan is most worried about her 10- and 12-year-old sons.

"I'm scared. I don't know what to do," she told us.

We contacted Gasparyan's landlord and she phoned Gasparyan to try to work something out.

For more information on city and county eviction moratoriums, read our full rundown here.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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