FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — New resources to stop unlawful evictions in Fresno will soon be put in place. They were triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, but have implications long after that crisis has run its course.
California’s ban on evictions of tenants impacted by the pandemic ends June 30. City council members say there could be a wave of evictions after this date, so they’re taking action to change the course of unlawful evictions in Fresno.
On Thursday afternoon the council voted unanimously in favor of the Eviction Protection Program (EPP) with councilmember Garry Bredefled recusing himself due to owning multiple apartment units that he leases. The resolution was put forth by councilmen Nelson Esparza and Tyler Maxwell.
“We would provide legal counsel to residents and tenants in Fresno who are facing an unlawful eviction,” Esparaza said.
According to the official resolution, Fresno’s city attorney can seek outside legal counsel to represent tenants in Fresno County’s Superior court who are facing unlawful evictions. Council President Luis Chavez is in favor of the resolution but has some reservations about implementation.
“A city would essentially give taxpayer dollars to a private citizen so they can sue another private citizen,” Chavez said. “Those were the parts that I was uncomfortable with.”
Councilman Mike Karbassi says the city should encourage landlords to inform tenants of their legal rights, and says he plans on introducing a future ordinance that will require landlords to do this.
“When a lease is signed within city limits, I believe that consumers should receive a document,” Karbassi said. “And that’s a signed document that’s kept on file with a landlord where they’ve informed residents of their rights.”
Councilman Tyler Maxwell says tenants seeking help will be screened by the city attorney’s office. Similar resources will be provided to landlords for mediation with the city attorney. Maxwell adds funding for the EPP is still being worked out by the city council, but the goal is to have the program begin sometime in late June.