South Bay leaders looking to extend eviction moratorium

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will vote on a proposal to extend the South Bay's current eviction moratorium by one month. The ordinance was set to expire at the end of August.

It already applies to renters in every city in Santa Clara County and gives tenants six months to pay partial back rent and 12 months to pay it in full.

If extended, the ordinance would provide the payment relief through September 2021.

It's a move welcome by Maria Ruiz.

The fast food worker pays $1,600 a month to rent a one bedroom apartment in downtown San Jose which she shares with her two daughters and two grandchildren.

Ruiz says she is two months behind in rent after her hours were cut.

"I've been selling stuff at the flea market. I've been making desserts to sell. I've been trying to find houses to clean. And the extension would give me more time to figure out how to make that money up," said Ruiz through a translator.

In addition to extending the moratorium, Supervisor Cindy Chavez is proposing a new measure to further crack down on landlords and impose fines for those who ignore the moratorium or use litigation to get around it.

"Not all landlords are bad guys. I don't even want to come close to saying that. What I'm saying is if you are taking advantage of this, we are going to stop you from doing this," said Chavez.

The proposed help appears to come too late for Alex Hult who raised awareness about a loophole in the measure.

Hult owns several Flights Restaurant locations in the Bay Area and says he will likely be closing his Mountain View site.

"It's been insane. You know every day you're getting a new blow," said Hult.

The small business owner, originally from Sweden, managed to work out new reduced rental agreements for his Campbell, Los Gatos and Burlingame sites but says the landlord of his Mountain View location sued Hult while he was trying to work out the same deal.

Hult says the costly litigation likely means the Mountain View location will close for good.

The restaurant owner adds the community where he lives, Los Gatos, has already had several restaurants close.

"I know of about 3 or 4 that have already closed down and I know of about at least 10 more that are considering closing down or don't know if they can open up," said Hult.

The California Apartment Association represents 20,000 rental property owners and has been encouraging its members to be flexible and workout agreements with tenants.

"Any eviction moratorium should be narrowly tailored to ensure it is only benefiting those renters who are financially impacted by COVID-19," said Joshua Howard, the executive Vice President of the California Apartment Association.

The Association is also appealing to the state for financial assistance, Howard saying it's important both renters and landlords have help through these challenging times.