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Couple Pays Mortgage On Home They Can't Move Into As Tenant Stays Under Eviction Moratorium

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — This week, both Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties extended their eviction moratoriums for another month through the end of July.

While this move provides relief for tenants struggling to pay rent, some mom-and-pop landlords are now struggling to pay their bills.

Homeowner Nasario Birrueta and his wife thought they were getting their dream home when they closed on an Apple Valley home back on March 12.

"We put in a bid of $15,000 over their asking price to get the house," Birrueta said.

The couple also agreed to a 30-day leaseback so the previous owners would have more time to move out.

But when it was time for them to move out, the previous owners sent a text saying, due to the shelter-in-place order, they are not moving out.

"I offered them $5,000 cash if they want to move out by mid-May, but they didn't respond," Birrueta said.

Now, more than three months after the Birruetas purchased their new home, they still can't move in.

They say the previous owner only paid one month's rent and hasn't paid a dime since.

"There is a very good chance we may end up losing the house to foreclosure if this continues any longer," he said.

The state is still under an eviction moratorium until at least the end of July, but eviction attorney Melissa Marsh says it will be long after that until people like the Birruetas can get a court date.

"Right now the courts have said there will be no eviction summons, which is what starts the eviction process in court, until 90 days after the emergency is lifted and there is no end in sight for this emergency," Marsh said.

Marsh says there should be a provision in the moratorium that exempts mom-and-pop landlords.

"Although all the laws had good intentions, and where big landlords can assume the economic loss, the small landlord can't," she said.

Mike Shalyapin is one of those small landlords. He owns two duplexes in downtown L.A. and was in the process of evicting one of his tenants when the stay-at-home order went into effect.

Now, according to Shalyapin, those tenants have stopped paying rent.

"I was laid off from my other job, so the only source of income I have right now is from income properties," he said.

Tenants in California don't have to prove economic hardship due to COVID-19 and they have 12 months to pay their rent back once the emergency order is lifted.

"My credit cards are maxed out. I don't even know how to pay for my mortgage bill next month, and at the same time the city demands property taxes," Shalyapin said.

Starting July 1, tenants in L.A. County will be able to apply for two one-time $1,000 payments that will go directly to their landlords, but the landlords can't apply for this themselves.

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