An embattled Governor proposes that 100% of COVID-19 rent debt should be paid by California

Needless to say, the past several months have put a squeeze on many landlords, but Bornstein Law and our community can finally see the horizon.

When COVID-19 first reared its ugly head, the first reflex of lawmakers was to stabilize tenancies and prevent homelessness by banning evictions for nonpayment of rent. The public policy of hearing the cries for tenant protections without recognizing the hardships of cash-strapped landlords has left many rental property owners in the lurch.

Enter the passage of SB 91. If several boxes are checked, landlords could recoup 80% of rent debt owed in exchange for forgiving the other 20%. That is how the law stands today.


Governor Newsom says it’s not enough

Newsom announced his intent to make landlords whole by paying landlords 100% of rent that has accrued during the pandemic, provided that tenants qualify for COVID-19 rental assistance. Let’s hope that this is not a political stunt by a Governor facing a recall election and that this proposal can cross the finish line.



With a burgeoning $5.2 billion in the state's rental assistance coffer from federal funds and a budget surplus, this seems doable, but to be clear, it is not up to executive fiat. California's legislature will have to take action. In the near future, Sacramento lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation that will spell out how a pot of funds will be disbursed. Of course, we will keep you plugged in if there are any changes that occur under the dome of the Capitol.


Our assessment of rental assessment programs thus far is less than exemplary

While our strong advice has been to participate in the state and/or local rental assistance programs, don’t get your wallets out just yet. The actual implementation of rent relief has been slow going. Out of the billions promised, only a handful of millions have been paid out. In this podcast, we offer some soliloquy on how things are going so far. 

Recent from Mercury News: Bay Area tenants, landlords: Fix broken relief programs

Our offices can assist in seeking rental assistance funds

In order for landlords to tap into federal and state dollars, a great deal of household income and other information has to be gleaned from the tenant. We can help in educating tenants about the benefits of SB 91, determine eligibility, and guide both parties along through a cooperative application process. 


Parting thoughts

Seeking rental assistance funds is a two-way street, requiring some harmony between both parties. We understand that there may be an acrimonious relationship that makes it impossible for landlords and tenants to engage in a productive dialog. Some landlords and/or tenants, quite candidly, are a bull in a china shop. 

Bornstein Law can elevate clients beyond the emotional fray and serve as an intermediary to accomplish the goal of striking a win-win solution for tenants to have rent debt forgiven while at the same time, giving a sorely needed injection of funds to landlords.