essential businesses

Are You an Essential Business Receiving Eviction Notices? Here's What You Should Know

There are hundreds of reports from renters receiving notices from landlords for not being able to pay their rent, including a local pharmacy in Altadena.

What to Know

  • Landlords can issue eviction notices during this time, but the courts are not taking any action on these cases.
  • If you are a tenant who receives an eviction notice do not ignore them.
  • Let your landlord know as soon as possible of your inability to pay due to COVID-19.

Across Southern California, evictions are on hold to give renters and tenants some financial relief.

But eviction notices are still going out and even businesses considered 'essential' during the pandemic can be targeted.

The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs tells the I-Team they have heard "hundreds of reports from renters" receiving notices from landlords for not being able to pay their rent and other reasons.

One tenant is a local pharmacy, an essential business that we spoke with early on in this pandemic.

Los Angeles County Officials have filed criminal charges against 28 non-essential businesses that stayed open despite the quarantine. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020.

When we first visited Webster's Pharmacy weeks back, the concern was limited supplies of medications. Now they say shelves are stocked, but they are concerned with how long they can keep the doors open and serve their customers.

The pharmacy has received two notices to pay their rent in full or face possible eviction.

"It's very upsetting because we are doing what we do here, we are taking care of our community," said Meredith Miller, owner of Webster Pharmacy.

The Miller's say they reached out to their landlord a week before their April rent was due to explain their financial hardships because of the pandemic.

"Most of our business is deliveries and our traffic flow is a lot less than it was," said Michael Miller, pharmacist and owner of Webster Pharmacy.

They said they have had to add delivery drivers to their staff, were denied a small business loan -- but still paid most of this month's rent.

"I don't have the money to make a lump sum payment because of the other financial challenges we are having right now," Meredith Miller said.

The I-Team called and emailed the Millers' landlord, SEJ Properties LP and Calitex LLC, to ask about the Millers' case.

They referred us to the county, which told us: "The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs' Tenant Protections and Rent Stabilization Team was able to discuss these issues with both the landlord and pharmacy, and the issues appear to have been resolved on mutually agreeable terms…"

Nonessential businesses that ignored the order to close have been shut down and may now face criminal charges. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020.

The county says landlords can issue eviction notices during this time, but the courts are not taking any action on these cases. Still, there is no extra protection for essential businesses in operation during the moratorium.

If you are a tenant who receives an eviction notice:

  • Do not ignore them. Notices are time sensitive and require a response.
  • Renters must let landlords know as soon as possible of their inability to pay due to COVID-19.
  • Businesses with more than nine employees must provide supporting documents to prove financial hardship, like bank statements showing reduced revenue.

The Miller's have owned the pharmacy in Altadena for a decade -- the place itself a staple for more than 90 years.

Now and for whatever comes in the future, the Miller's say they are grateful the county stepped in.

The county tells the I-Team it will continue to support both parties during this difficult time.

For tips on how you can approach your landlord, how long you have to pay back rent and more visit the Los Angeles County Consumer and Business Affairs website or call (833) 233-7368.

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