Mortgage Relief for Homeowners Statewide
On March 25, Governor Gavin Newsom announced mortgage relief for Californians affected by COVID-19. Eligible homeowners would be able to defer mortgage payments for at least three months. The participating lenders included Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Citi Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as 200 state-chartered banks and credit unions. If you are unable to make your mortgage payments due to COVID-19, call your lender for more information about their deferment programs.
California’s Judicial Council has halted all eviction and foreclosure actions (residential and commercial) until 90 days after the State of Emergency Order ends. The orders work in conjunction with the Governor’s executive orders and allow people facing court action for evictions and foreclosures to delay responses to court action until 90 days after the State of Emergency Order ends. People who have cases or receive notices of eviction or foreclosure should still consult with legal service providers.
- Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an emergency ordinance suspending evictions in the Unincorporated County for renters and homeowners who are experiencing loss of income, significant out-of-pocket medical expenses or childcare needs as a result of the County COVID-19 shelter mandate. The Ordinance took effect immediately upon passage and will be in effect until April 23, 2020 unless extended by the Board. https://www.acgov.org/cda/hcd/
- Prohibition on Evictions Due to Unpaid Rent - A property owner cannot evict a tenant for failure to pay rent if a tenant demonstrates loss of income or out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 through May 31, 2020.
- Ban on No-Fault Evictions - A property owner cannot evict a tenant for any "no-fault" reason except to protect the health and safety of the owner or another tenant, or to allow the owner or their immediate family to move into the residential unit through May 31, 2020.
- Moratorium on Rent Increases - Temporary freeze on rent increases through May 31, 2020. State law prevents this freeze from applying to residences built within the last 15 years; single family homes, townhouses/condos unless owned by a corporation, investment trust, or LLC; owner-occupied duplexes; hotels; care facilities for adults/elderly; school dorms; group housing.
- Grace Period to Pay Back Rent - Tenants who demonstrate loss of income or out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19 have 120 days after May 31, 2020 to pay all past due rent.
- No Late Fees - Property owner may not charge or collect late fees for unpaid rent from a tenant who demonstrates loss of income or out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19. This ban on late fees extends until 120 days after May 31, 2020.
- Documentation - Notice to the landlords of financial hardship via documentation is required within 14 days of rent being due.
- Retroactivity of Eviction Protections - These protections apply to eviction notices and lawsuits served or filed after March 16, 2020.
County Property Tax Deadline of April 10, 2020
The April 10 deadline for the Second Installment of Property Taxes remains as is -- however, the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors (CACTTC) has issued a statement which explains that it can, in certain cases, waive penalties, costs or other charges resulting from tax delinquency due to reasonable cause and circumstances related to this crisis. The CACTCC’s Statement and helpful FAQ’s, also explains the different methods a taxpayer can use for paying taxes during Shelter in Place without physically going to the Tax Collector’s office.
How to Apply for a Waiver of Penalties/Fees for late payment of property taxes (after April 10):
For Properties located in Contra Costa County:
Waiver Form: Request for Penalty Cancellation for COVID-19 Impact
For Properties located in Alameda County:
Waiver Policy: Read more here.
Waiver Forms: online and print versions
Fastrak has also suspended cash tolls and will be charging tolls either through Fastrak or will mail a bill for the toll until further notice.
Personal Income Tax Relief
Both State and Federal tax deadlines have moved to July 15, 2020. Note: If you believe you are owed money from either the State or Federal government, I encourage you to file as soon as you can to receive your refund.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced updated special tax relief for all California taxpayers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit its webpage.
Individuals: Income tax payment deadlines for individual returns, with a due date of April 15, 2020, are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $1 million of their 2019 tax due. This payment relief applies to all individual returns, including self-employed individuals, and all entities other than C-Corporations, such as trusts or estates. The IRS will automatically provide this relief to taxpayers. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this relief.
Internal Revenue Service has temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and discontinued face-to-face service throughout the country until further notice. The IRS is continuing to process tax returns, issue refunds and help taxpayers to the greatest extent possible. For more information, visit the IRS webpage.
The Federal CARES Act
Stimulus Payments: Congress has passed an emergency relief package, which provides financial relief in the form of dollar payments to eligible individuals and families. The payments are $1,200 to individuals making less than $75,000 ($150,000 for joint returns) and $500 for each child. No paperwork is required to receive payment.
Employment Benefits: The bill expands unemployment insurance benefits by 13 weeks and includes a four-month enhancement of benefits. Those eligible will receive an additional $600 per week from the federal government, in addition to any CA unemployment insurance benefits they receive. Notably, the bill makes these benefits available to independent contractors and the self-employed.
Federal Student Loan Program: Federal student loan payments have been suspended through Sept. 30, 2020, under the Congressional stimulus bill called the CARES Act, passed on March 27. Students have the option of stopping payment on their loans during this time, without incurring penalties or fees. This only covers federal student loans owned by a government agency -- this does not include private student loans. For more information, please visit: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
Questions about Insurance
Personal Insurance Refunds
The Dept of Insurance is ordering all insurance companies to make an initial premium refund for the months of March and April, based on estimated change in risk or exposure. However, insurers are not a required to return 100% of premium.
The policies included in this order are: Private passenger automobile insurance, commercial automobile insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, commercial multiple peril insurance, commercial liability insurance, and medical malpractice insurance.
For more information see below:
For businesses or consumers with insurance-related questions, the CA Department of Insurance’s consumer hotline at 1-800-927-4357 continues to be available from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM to help California consumers and businesses with their urgent insurance issues and answer questions you may have.
The Department’s new site is being updated continually: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/140-catastrophes/Coronavirus.cfm
Disaster Relief for Undocumented Californians
The State of California has a $125 million Disaster Relief Fund to support undocumented Californian’s impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. $75 million dollars comes from the state while $50 million comes from philanthropic sources. More information on the program and a way to support it can be found below:
State Actions to Support Homeowners and Renters
On March 16th, Governor Newsom announced an Executive Order authorizing local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slow foreclosures, and protect against utility shutoffs for Californians affected by COVID-19. The order does not relieve a tenant from the obligation to pay rent, or restrict the landlord’s ability to recover rent that is due. The order also requests banks and other financial institutions to halt foreclosures and related evictions during this period. The protections are in effect through May 31, 2020, unless extended.