Davis City Council passes ordinance halting evictions, suspending fees for water shut-offs during COVID-19 local state of emergency

Davis City Council passes ordinance halting evictions, suspending fees for water shut-offs during COVID-19 local state of emergency

Photo Credits: IAN JONES / AGGIE FILE

City’s landlords cannot evict renters unable to pay rent due to pandemic, related workplace closures

The Davis City Council has unanimously passed a city-wide ordinance that will put a halt to both commercial and residential evictions for non-payment for the duration of the COVID-19 local emergency, provided that tenants can prove they have been financially impacted by the pandemic. The ordinance also authorized the city manager to waive penalties for non-payment of city utility bills and suspend water shut-offs.

News of the ordinance was announced on the city’s website on March 25. Councilmembers said the moratorium on evictions is intended to provide relief to the many Davis workers impacted by COVID-19 and subsequent shelter-in-place orders.

“Many people who have served us in Davis shops and restaurants are suddenly unemployed or underemployed and need our help,” said Councilmember Dan Carson in the announcement. “I’m glad we will be able to help our residents who are struggling to make ends meet because of the health emergency. We must all take a compassionate approach in this time of crisis.”

Under the oridance’s terms, tenants will have to provide notice of their inability to pay to their landlord within 10 days of their rent’s due date. They must also provide documentation that proves loss of income or financial impact due to the outbreak  — either from illness itself or from disruption caused by shelter-in-place orders — within 30 days of their rent due date. Landlords cannot initiate no-fault evictions, except out of immediate necessity due to hazardous conditions unrelated to COVID-19.

Tenants must, however, pay whatever portion of their rent they can, according to the city’s announcement. Moreover, the ordinance only defers the rent payments rather than eliminating them altogether — once the state-of-emergency is lifted, landlords can once again seek any outstanding rent from their tenants.

The moratorium on evictions will remain in place until the state of emergency is lifted, according to the city’s announcement. Tenants must complete back payments of any unpaid rent within six months of the expiration of the ordinance.

  Additionally, the ordinance allows the city manager to suspend penalty fees for non-payment of city utility bills, as well water shut-offs, throughout May 2020 — and past this date, if deemed necessary. Unlike the rent deferrals, utility customers will not need to provide documentation of their inability to pay.

Written by: Tim Lalonde — city@theaggie.org