It’s been about a month since landlord Carrie Cunningham-Holmes submitted paperwork to the state to be compensated for her tenant’s unpaid rent in Los Angeles County. While Cunningham-Holmes has nearly 10 tenants that aren’t paying their rent, she needs the pending money to keep the lights on.
“I’m highly upset that they still want to have the moratorium extended, and the [process] to receive money is so slow,” she said. “I’m buying this building, this is my property, and all of a sudden, the government has made rules for us.”
With many of her tenants not paying rent, Cunningham-Holmes said the amount of rent owed is significant. She said about 95 percent of tenants in her neighborhood are not paying rent.
“Some people are worse off than I am,” she said. “Our utility bills are extremely high, and they are higher now because people are home … my water bill is double, insurance has gone up, gas has gone up.”
While the moratorium is intended to protect low-income tenants, Cunningham-Holmes said some of her tenants that aren’t paying rent have high incomes.
Dennis Block, an eviction attorney serving Southern California landlords, represents clients with tenants that owe $10,000 to $25,000 in rent. Out of all his clients, fewer than 15 percent of them have received money from the state to cover past-due rent.
“They’re never going to see this money,” Block told The Epoch Times. “I believe 85 percent of the rent will never be seen by the landlord. It’s government-sanctioned theft of property from landlords.”
At least five times a week, Block receives calls from clients stating that their tenants who haven’t paid rent have bought new cars or are taking pricey tropical vacations.
“Landlords are still forced to pay their property taxes,” he said. “They’re still forced to pay for utilities like sewer and water for the buildings, and then [they’re] also forced to pay for any upkeep and repairs that need to be made, both major and minor.”
Block said in many situations, tenants are working and “there is no financial impact.”
“We’ve seen tenants who are on a fixed income, they’re a pensioner, never worked, to begin with, so of course, the pandemic never affected them … and these municipalities and the state do not require any proof,” she said.
Dan Faller, founder and chairman of the Apartment Owners Association of California, told The Epoch Times he believes the eviction moratorium will be extended to the end of the year.
When the eviction moratorium was extended to Sept. 30, Faller said landlords were furious, as many are losing ownership of their property.
With many tenants struggling to pay rent, a part of the $100 billion California Comeback Plan designates $5.2 billion will be provided to cover 100 percent of back-rent, along with $2 billion for past-due utility bills.
“As the state comes roaring back from the pandemic, we’re laser-focused on getting this assistance out the door as quickly as possible and providing support across the board to help Californians get back on their feet,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement on July 14.
“With robust COVID rental protections and the largest rent relief program of any state in the nation, we’re protecting millions of struggling Californians worried about keeping a roof over their heads or making next month’s mortgage by covering 100 percent of past-due and prospective rent payments, as well as overdue water and utility bills.”
Despite the million-dollar plan, Faller isn’t convinced the state will reimburse everybody. Rather, he thinks the reimbursements will go toward low-income tenants only.
“No individual should be made to pay 40 to 50 percent of the living cost of another individual,” he said.
While some landlords continue to wait for the promised funds, a few have no other option than to dig into their personal savings to cover the cost of running their buildings.
Newsom’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.