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Council enacts a temporary moratorium on evictions of renters impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an urgency ordinance that curtails the eviction of tenants who get behind on their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary moratorium applies to tenants of residential and commercial properties, including mobile home parks within the city limits.

“We reached out to our tenants about a month ago,” said Joe Hanauer, developer and owner of The Old Pottery Place. “We want to be sure we are not running afoul of the ordinance.”

Hanauer’s deal with his tenants depends on circumstances, he said. If they defer half of the rent and pay half, Hanauer said he would forego half. 

Nothing in the ordinance precludes or overrides a voluntary agreement between any landlord and tenant that provides greater relief or remedies to the tenant with respect to eviction proceedings, rent deferment, or rent repayment. Nor does it relieve the tenant from eventually repaying the landlord the back rent, within 120 days of the expiration on the Governor’s May 31 temporary order  halting evictions.

All bets are off if the tenants have the financial resources to pay the rent.

The ordinance includes language, proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow, that protects landlords, who may be dependent on rental income. 

“You could have a CEO who has decided to reduce his compensation to zero dollars, but has $50 million in the bank,” said Dicterow. 

Councilman Peter Blake, participating in the meeting from the Council Chambers, said there are federal loans specifically for paying bills that aren’t getting paid due to the impact of COVID-19. 

Landlords will be sent letters advising them of the ordinance.

 

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