Seal Beach officials have repealed the city’s commercial eviction moratorium, with council members and city staff in agreement that it is no longer needed, in part, because the city is not aware of any major unresolved issues between tenants and landlords.

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The City Council voted unanimously late last month to approve an urgency ordinance, lifting the city’s commercial eviction moratorium that, according to a city staff report, prohibited landlords from evicting tenants facing COVID-19 financial hardships. The ban had been in effect since the early stages of the pandemic.

In early April 2020, the council adopted two ordinances, protecting both residential and commercial tenants from being evicted for non-payment of rent during COVID-19’s peak. City Attorney Craig Steele presented updates on the commercial eviction moratorium at the council meeting, concluding that no recent reports have shown a need for a citywide ban.

“We haven’t had, at the staff level, contact from businesses who have been unable to work these matters out with their landlords,” said Steele before the council vote. “Therefore, it appears that this commercial eviction moratorium has done its job and can be repealed.”

The city’s chamber of commerce could not be reached for comment on the repeal of the moratorium.

“Under the city’s moratorium, tenants were not required to pay any portion of their rent while the hardship was ongoing,” Steele said in an email to the Voice of OC. “This means that any tenants who relied heavily on the city’s moratorium may have a harder time acquiring the money they need in order to repay all of the rent that they missed during the COVID-19 crisis.”

The newly-approved urgency ordinance gives tenants six months to repay unpaid rent, late fees, or any other charges, “if they complied with the requirements of the ordinance prior to its repeal,” according to the staff report. Commercial tenants and landlords are encouraged to work together to relieve COVID-19 financial problems before the six months are over.

“Repealing the city’s commercial eviction ban will provide clarification to commercial tenants,” Council member Schelly Sustarsic said during the meeting. 

This action only concerns commercial evictions and will not affect the existing residential moratorium, which will continue to be examined at the state and federal level, according to City Council discussion.

“We should continue to let staff monitor the situation and report back to the council,” Mayor Joe Kalmick said at the meeting, referring to residential evictions. 

The approved commercial eviction moratorium repeal ordinance went into effect immediately.

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