Small businesses have more time to pay back rent

County supes extend eviction protections

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By Grace Hase

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors extended its eviction protections last week for small businesses, giving tenants more time to pay back rent due to financial losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Small businesses now have until March 31, 2021 to begin repaying back rent after county leaders agreed to extend the local eviction moratorium for businesses from Nov. 20 to early next year.

Santa Clara County, which adopted its original eviction moratorium on March 24, last amended the law on Aug. 25 “to include anti-waiver language consistent with existing law so that any waiver of rights by a tenant guaranteed by the county’s eviction moratorium is void as contrary to public policy,” according to a recent memo from County Counsel James Williams.

Small businesses’ rent reprieve comes as coronavirus cases are spiking in the region and some Bay Area counties begin to put back in place certain restrictions on non-essential businesses to help “bend the curve” of the infections.

Santa Clara County, meanwhile, has been one of the more conservative counties in the state when it comes to easing up on coronavirus-related restrictions. It was slower than many of its neighboring jurisdictions to allow people to shop and dine with limited capacity indoors, for instance. County officials say the best way to avoid restrictions being put back in place is for both residents and businesses to follow the guidelines set out by health officials. Businesses that don’t follow local health rules can also be fined.

The move follows California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order in March allowing local governments to institute moratoriums for residential and commercial evictions through May 31, 2020. While Newsom signed a new state law in August to protect residential tenants, he’s left local jurisdictions in charge of enacting eviction moratoriums for small business tenants by extending his original executive order through March 31, 2021. Santa Clara County took him up on that offer last week.

Small business tenants in the county now have up to six months after the moratorium ends to pay back at least 50 percent of past-due rent and a year after it ends to pay back past-due rent in full.

According to the county’s website, civil fines, monetary damages and injunctive relief can be imposed on landlords who don’t abide by the county law.

Visit the county’s website for more information on the county’s eviction moratorium. 

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