Statewide eviction protections are set to expire on March 31, San Diego's City Council passed an eviction moratorium which protects tenants against eviction for non-payment of rent associated with COVID-19 hardship that will take effect on April 1, 2022, but now they are considering another proposal that would also put a moratorium on "no-fault evictions".
No-fault evictions are typically when an owner wants to move back into their property, remodel it or sell it. The proposal would put a moratorium on no-fault evictions during the period of the city's state of emergency up until 60 days after the state of emergency ends. Currently, the city votes monthly to extend the state of emergency and it is unclear exactly when the state of emergency would end.
"We know that evictions lead to homelessness and we cannot afford to have one more person unnecessarily end up homeless," City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said.
The City Council would vote on the proposal on April 4, if 6 city council members vote for it, it would go into effect immediately, but if 5 or fewer vote for it, it would have to go to a second vote for approval. Elo-Rivera says this is a temporary solution for a bigger problem.
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"I think that what we have in mind would be tethered to the state of emergency that we’re in and then we do have to find longer-term solutions," he said.
Juan Ruiz is a San Diegan currently facing a no-fault eviction. He has lived in the same apartment complex in Linda Vista for 15 years. In November of 2021, a new owner bought the apartment complex he lives in and he was subsequently given an eviction notice because the owner wanted to remodel the units. Twenty of his neighbors left the apartment complex, six stayed behind hoping they might be able to work out a deal with the new owner.
"It was heartbreaking, being in this apartment complex for so many years our neighbors, knowing all of our neighbors, we all looked out for each other," Ruiz said.
Ruiz was happy to learn about the proposal for a no-fault eviction moratorium, but many rental property owners say the proposal doesn't take into consideration the rights they have to their property.
"The no cause eviction that the city of San Diego is attempting to create with their addition to the moratorium removes a couple of protections that rental property owners have for their own protection, one is, 'Oh my gosh, I need to move back into my house,'" said Lucinda Lilley from the Southern California Rental Housing Association.
Lilley says property owners need to be able to access their units to make necessary upgrades so that future tenants are living in safe conditions.
"This feels like a political move that does not protect or preserve access to affordable housing at all," Lilley said.
NBC 7 reached out to the new owner of Ruiz's apartment complex in Linda Vista and didn't hear back from them.