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California renters will owe their landlords a total of nearly $1.7 billion by the end of the year.

That’s according to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, which estimates 240,000 renter households statewide are behind on rent, with an average debt of $6,953, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The state’s eviction moratorium runs through Feb. 1. It allows landlords to pursue back rent through small claims court starting in March. Tenants are required to pay at least a quarter of their rent between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31 to qualify for eviction protections.

Back rent owed by California renters accounts for more than a quarter of all back rent owed nationwide, which the report concluded will total $7.2 billion by the end of the year. Californians on average owe about $1,500 more than the national average.

California’s eviction moratorium is meant as something of a stopgap while state lawmakers draw up a more permanent solution to the question of evictions and foreclosures. There are statewide concerns that a wave of foreclosures and evictions could hit once protections at various governmental levels expires.

The federal government, through the CDC, has an eviction moratorium in place through Dec. 31. The Philadelphia Fed warns that thousands of tenants nationwide are at risk of eviction when that expires.

Cities and counties can and in most cases have put their own eviction protections in place. The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles is fighting L.A.’s eviction moratorium in court, arguing that it does not afford landlords the same protections as it does renters. [LADN] — Dennis Lynch 

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