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San Diegans about to have more eviction protections

Barbara Green has been served several notices of eviction from her San Diego apartment. "I was totally stressed before I got help. I didn’t know what I was going to do," she said.

The single mom of three said she was caught up on her rent, but added that her landlord wants to give the family the boot using a loophole in eviction law: renovations. "The landlord is just greedy, and he’s never made proper renovations the whole seven years that I’ve been here. He just wanted to make more money," she said.

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, stepped in to help Green. And she's getting more help from the city of San Diego, through a temporary extension of eviction protections that close a renovation loophole.

But representatives for landlords say the ordinance adds an unnecessary burden for people who want to sell their properties, or who waited to do renovations because of the pandemic.

Molly Kirkland is with the Southern California Rental Housing Association. She said owners currently had to wait six additional months to sell and needed a court order to do major renovations. "There are quite a few property owners out there that are frustrated with all the regulation that has been piled on over the years," she said.

San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera spearheaded the no-fault eviction ban. "This costs the city nothing, and it applies to everyone. ... Every renter in San Diego has more protections," Elo-Rivera said, noting that the rule is for those who are paying their rent on time and abiding by the terms of their lease.

"We hear every single day: 'What are you doing about homelessness? What are you doing?' Right?" he said. "We see the problem getting worse, and there’s the work that we have to do to get folks off the streets. But a big part of this is preventing people from falling into homelessness."

Elo-Rivera made clear that this does not apply to people who are behind on their rent, but rather to landlords who abuse the system. "Because the rental market is so tight, we were learning that some landlords were taking advantage of that. They were moving folks out, doing ... superficial renovations. And then they were able to jack up the rent for the next tenant at a pretty substantial rate. So there was a ton of profit incentive there and the ramifications to the families who moved out were pretty serious," he said.

Gil Vera with Legal Aid San Diego said it was a lot more common than many would like to believe. "No-fault evictions were the No. 1 thing that city of San Diego tenants were calling Legal Aid in requesting assistance with."

Green said that, for people like her, the no-fault eviction moratorium will make the difference between being housed or being homeless. "I appreciate it," she said. "I’m glad that they passed it. It will help a lot of people as long as they know their rights."

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