City of Beverly Hills | News
Beverly Hills City Council Amends Urgency Ordinance Regarding Evictions and Rent Payments for Small Commercial Tenants
“This is not rent forgiveness, we encourage people to pay what they can,” clarified Councilman John Mirisch.
The Beverly Hills City Council has voted to extend the moratorium on small commercial tenant evictions to Sept. 30, 2020. The unanimous vote, which amends Urgency Ordinance 20-02815, took place at the Aug. 4 Regular City Council Hearing. Under the amended ordinance, the rent recommencement date (when regular payment of rent should resume) is now Oct. 1, 2020. The Council extended the date for repayment of forborne rent to March 1, 2021.
The amendment brings the City in line with surrounding municipalities and is authorized by an order from Governor Gavin Newsom.
The City Council originally adopted Urgency Ordinance 20-O-2815 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at its June 18 special meeting. It provided, among other things, that commercial tenants would commence paying rent on Aug. 1, 2020. Since that time, some of the early business reopenings sanctioned by Los Angeles County have been rolled back. As a result, the economic downturn caused by the ongoing crisis shows no sign of abating.
The Council’s Aug. 4 vote dealt with small commercial tenants only. Large commercial tenants are still bound by the original eviction moratorium end date of July 31, 2020. A large commercial tenant is defined as: a business that, together with its affiliates, (1) employs more than 100 employees, or (2) has an average annual gross receipts of more than $15 million over the previous three years, or (3) has business operations, other than sales conducted solely through online channels, in three or more countries, including the United States, or (4) a business whose payment of rent is guaranteed by a business falling within the above list.
At the Aug. 4 hearing, members of the Council noted that the best-case scenario is for landlords and tenants to reach agreements on their own. In fact, the ordinance requires the two sides to meet and make a good faith attempt to develop an agreement. Any agreement worked out between commercial tenants and property owners will take a precedence over the ordinance and may extend the period for repayment if both sides consent.
Based on public comments received during the hearing, however, such agreements are proving illusive for many business owners.
A myriad of local retailers called in to voice frustration with landlords unwilling to make reasonable concessions during this dire economic time. “Where is the shared pandemic pain?” asked one caller. Other business owners spoke of potentially losing decades-long investments and history in the City, due to unprecedented hardship.
A few representatives from property management companies spoke up, as well. Some warned that unscrupulous tenants “operating at full capacity” might take advantage of an extended eviction moratorium. Others decried the loss of existing leverage in negotiations, if the ordinance deadline is moved to September.
“This is not rent forgiveness, we encourage people to pay what they can,” clarified Councilman John Mirisch. “All we can do is to try to help people as much as we possibly can and hopefully facilitate discussions and agreements between landlords and tenants.”
He added, “We should figure out a way to keep the small business and small business owners alive because if not, what we’re going to see is a wholesale corporate takeover of America and that’s not good for anybody.”
For more information about the City’s eviction moratorium, visit www.beverlyhills.org/coronavirus or contact the City’s Rent Stabilization Division at 310-285-1031.