Tobener Ravenscroft understands the tumult that the coronavirus has caused to tenants throughout California.  To help tenants through this tough time, we are remaining open while practicing social distancing. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our tenant rights lawyers at 415-504-2165 for help throughout the Bay Area. 

Below, you will find a list of resources and information to help tenants through this difficult time.  Court closures, mandates on evictions, and government orders are changing daily, if not more.  We will do our best to update this article as soon as we can.  Call us immediately if you are concerned about being evicted or have other COVID-19 tenant rights concerns.

(Last updated September 1, 2020)

Protection From Eviction in California During Coronavirus Outbreak:

Governor Newsom’s Executive Order:

On March 27, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order temporarily postponing the enforcement of residential eviction orders for non-payment of rent where a tenant’s inability to pay is because of coronavirus-related loss of work or income or inability to work either because of loss of childcare or because of a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in the tenant’s household.  For tenants who receive eviction paperwork related to nonpayment of rent, their deadline to respond in court is extended 60 days during the moratorium.  During this time, law enforcement and courts will not be enforcing eviction orders.  Any tenant unable to pay their rent during this period must tell their landlord in writing within 7 days of the missed payment that they cannot afford to pay because of a COVID-19 financial impact.  After the order expires, renters must pay the back rent due or they could face an eviction.  Tenants are advised to keep documentation as to why they cannot pay rent, which may be provided to the landlord no later than the time the tenant pays the back-rent due.  For anyone served an eviction notice during the moratorium, their deadline to respond is extended by sixty days.  The governor’s order will expire September 30, 2020.

Courts Due to Re-Open:

On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California issued an emergency rule suspending eviction actions.  The emergency rule has recently been repealed, and all California courts are set to re-open for evictions actions beginning September 1.  Please see the below and check your local laws to determine what tenant protections are still in effect in your city and/or county. 

Local Eviction Moratoriums:

Below are several of the cities and counties that have issued their own protections:

  • San Francisco
    • On March 13, 2020, Mayor Breed announced a moratorium on residential evictions related to financial impacts caused by COVID-19.  The moratorium prevents any SF resident from being evicted due to loss of income related to a business closure, loss of hours or wages, layoffs, or out-of-pocket medical costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This applies to all housing in San Francisco, whether protected by the City’s Rent Ordinance or not.  However, to qualify for the protection, tenants must notify their landlord within thirty calendar days after a missed rent payment that the tenant is unable to pay rent because of coronavirus.  Each month the payment is due and missed, the tenant must repeat this written notification.  Within seven calendar days after providing this required notice, the tenant must provide documentation showing the inability to pay rent was due to financial impacts of COVID-19.  This is a requirement whether or not the landlord has issued a three-day-notice.  If the landlord does not receive the requested documentation within seven days, the landlord may attempt to proceed with eviction for non-payment of rent.  The moratorium on residential evictions related to financial impacts caused by COVID-19 has been extended to September 30, 2020.  Tenants can defer their August 1 rent payment by following the steps above.  Unless the moratorium is extended again, tenants will need to pay rent on September 1, and the postponed rent (April, May, June, July, August, and September) will be due by April 1, 2021.
    • In June 2020, a law passed that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for the nonpayment of rent that accrued during the moratorium.  Landlords must instead pursue tenants in court for the back rent.  Because landlord groups have filed a lawsuit in response to this new law, tenants should check back for updates.
    • San Francisco has also had a freeze on rent increases on rent-controlled apartments in effect since the beginning of the emergency.  The rent increase freeze has been extended through October 21, 2020.
    • The City’s moratorium on evictions, enacted March 23, 2020, has been extended to December 1, 2020 and covers all evictions, including no-fault notices terminating residential tenancies (except notices for an Ellis Act eviction).  This means that any no-fault eviction, such as for an owner-move-in, relative move-in, or capital improvements, is not possible during the state of emergency, or within 60 days after the state of emergency ends.  The temporary ban does not apply if the basis for the eviction is related to violence, threats of violence, health and safety issues, or the Ellis Act.
    • On March 17, 2020, Mayor Breed announced a moratorium on commercial evictions for small and medium sized businesses.  This applies to businesses with a license to operate in San Francisco that have less than $25 million in annual gross receipts and that have missed a rent payment between March 17 and September 14, 2020 because of a documented impact related to COVID-19.  Commercial tenants have up to 6 months from the start of the ordinance to pay the deferred rent.
  • Oakland – On March 27, 2020, Oakland put a moratorium on both residential and commercial evictions in place.  The moratorium is retroactive to March 9, 2020 and applies to all tenancies covered by the Oakland Rent Ordinance.  This means nearly all renters, except those (1) renting in buildings constructed in 1996 or after, or (2) living in the same unit as their landlord, sharing a kitchen or bathroom, or (3) living in a health facility, nonprofit substance abuse treatment facility, or certain short-term housing for homeless people.  If your tenancy is covered, the moratorium protects you from being evicted during the City’s State of Emergency for nearly every reason (except an Ellis Act or because you are an imminent health or safety risk to other occupants).  If you receive an eviction notice, or your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit against you, while the moratorium is in effect the notice or lawsuit is legally invalid.  But, if your landlord files a lawsuit, make sure you still timely respond!  The new law also protects against future evictions for nonpayment of rent after the State of Emergency ends if you are still unable to pay rent because of lingering COVID-19 related financial impacts.  To use these protections, renters should notify their landlord that they are unable to pay rent because of the financial impacts of the coronavirus.  Tenants should keep documentation to prove this later, if need be.  If you cannot pay rent accrued during the State of Emergency, your landlord cannot ever lawfully evict you for not paying.  You will still owe the money, but you cannot be displaced through an eviction because of it.  The City of Oakland recently extended their emergency ordinance, which will now remain in effect through the end of the local emergency.
  • Alameda County – Alameda County implemented a county-wide eviction moratorium for tenants that cannot pay rent due to a COVID-19 related reason.  The March 31 ordinance has been extended to December 31, 2020.  The ordinance allows tenants up to 12 months after the expiration of the ordinance to pay back the deferred rent.  Landlords cannot charge late fees and cannot evict tenants after the lifting of the ordinance for this overdue rent.  However, once the ordinance expires, the following month’s rent is due as normal, and nonpayment would be considered grounds for an eviction.
    • Many cities within the county have enacted their own moratoriums and may have stronger protections than the county’s.  The following cities in Alameda County have enacted their own eviction moratorium laws: City of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Newark, Oakland, San Leandro, and Union City.
  • Berkeley – The city’s emergency ban on evictions applies to both residential and commercial tenants.  Tenants must notify their landlord within 7 days after rent is due that they cannot pay the rent due to a coronavirus related financial or medical effect that can be documented.  Tenants will have up to 12 months to pay back the deferred rent amount after the local State of Emergency is no longer active.  
  • Marin County – On March 24, 2020, Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a $1 million local relief fund and enacted a ban on both residential and commercial evictions for nonpayment when the tenant is unable to pay because of sudden loss of income tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Tenants unable to pay rent during this period must notify their landlord within 30 days of the prior due date and explain they are unable to pay because of financial impacts related to COVID-19.  Landlords may seek payment of unpaid rent after the expiration of the local emergency, but may not charge late fees.
    • The eviction moratorium for residential tenants is in effect until September 30, 2020 and applies to all of Marin, including cities, towns, and unincorporated areas. Residential tenants will have 90 days after the expiration of the moratorium to repay the back rent. 
    • The eviction moratorium applicable to commercial tenants expired May 31, 2020. Commercial tenants have 90 days from the expiration date to pay the back rent.
  • Santa Clara County – On March 24, 2020, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to halt evictions that would displace families and businesses as a direct result of the coronavirus.  The moratorium, which lasts through November 30, 2020, applies to both residential and commercial tenants who can prove they’ve had a substantial loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Once the moratorium is over, tenants will have up to 12 months to pay the deferred back rent.  The moratorium covers all cities within the county.  If a particular city (like San Jose, see below) has additional protections, those also apply within the city limits.
  • San Jose – On March 17, 2020, the San Jose City Council enacted a temporary eviction moratorium. It is in effect until October 17, 2020, with the possibility of an extension.  The moratorium protects residential tenants from eviction for nonpayment of rent when a tenant’s income has been substantially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.  While the moratorium is in effect, all residential properties will be provided with Just Cause eviction protections, meaning a landlord cannot issue a notice of termination of tenancy without one of the legal just causes for eviction, even if the rental property was not previously covered by the Tenant Protection Ordinance. Tenants must pay at least 50% of the unpaid rent within 6 months of the end of the eviction moratorium, and the remaining 50% must be paid within one year of the end of the moratorium
  • Mountain View – On March 27, the city enacted an eviction moratorium banning residential evictions for nonpayment of rent due to financial impacts related to the coronavirus.  The ban is set to expire November 30, 2020.  Tenants will have 180 days after the expiration to pay the back rent.  Also, on April 14, 2020, an additional $1.13 million was approved for the city’s Rent Relief Program.  The program provides up to $3,000 per month of rental assistance for up to two months for qualifying tenants impacted by COVID-19. 
  • Palo Alto – On March 24, 2020, the City of Palo Alto placed a moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent if the tenant is unable to pay because of loss of income or increases expenses due to coronavirus.  The moratorium will remain in effect until the city’s State of Emergency expires.  After that, tenants will have 120 days to make full payment of the back rent owed before facing the possibility of eviction.
  • City of Los Angeles – Mayor Garcetti ordered a moratorium on both residential and commercial evictions related to coronavirus.  If you are unable to pay your home or business’ rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic (including because of loss of business income, workplace closure, child care expenditures due to school closures, health care expenses related to being ill with COVID-19, or caring for someone in your household who is ill with the virus), you are protected from eviction until the Mayor declares the local State of Emergency is over.  No-fault evictions are also banned and rent increases have been frozen for properties that are subject to the city’s Rent Control Ordinance.  The order gives residential tenants affected by COVID-19 up to 12 months following expiration of the local emergency period to repay any back rent due. 
  • Santa Monica – Effective March 14, 2020, landlords are barred from evicting residential tenants for nonpayment of rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19.  To defer rent, tenants must notify their landlord in writing and provide relevant documentation. The emergency ban is due to expire September 30, 2020.  Tenants will have 12 months after the expiration to repay the rent owed.
  • Culver City – Residential landlords are blocked from evicting tenants who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to COVID-19.  The emergency ordinance expired September 30, 2020.  Tenants have 12 months from the expiration date to repay the deferred rent.
  • City and County of San Diego – On March 24, 2020, San Diego County put a moratorium on both residential and commercial evictions due to non-payment of rent that will last until the end of the local State of Emergency or until the governor’s order expires, whichever comes first.  This covers unincorporated areas of San Diego County.  
    • On March 25, 2020, the City of San Diego passed a temporary moratorium on both residential and commercialevictions until September 30, 2020.  This covers businesses and rentals within city limits.  Tenants who are unable to pay rent during this time must demonstrate a “substantial decrease” in income or increased medical expenses caused by CODIV-19.  If this information is not provided to the landlord when requested, the landlord may pursue an eviction.  Tenants will have 6 months after the expiration of the ordinance to repay the rent they deferred during the moratorium.
  • Other Cities and Counties:  In addition to the above, almost all cities and counties have enacted bans on evictions due to inability to pay because of the coronavirus, including but not limited to East Palo Alto, Hayward, Los Angeles County, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Bernardino County, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz, Santa Ana, Solano County, Sonoma County, West Hollywood, and Ventura County.  So far, we have not seen any of the local eviction moratorium on residential evictions expire.  However, moratoriums on commercial evictions have expired in a few jurisdictions. Please call us at 415-504-2165 for up to date information.

Federal Eviction Moratorium:

March 18, 2020, President Trump issued an order suspending all evictions from HUD housing and foreclosures from single family homes with Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages.  The order expired July 25, 2020.  This order only halted evictions on HUD-owned housing, and did not affect evictions on private rentals. 

On September 1, 2020, in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the C.D.C. issued an order prohibiting evictions during the pandemic that could lead to homelessness or shared housing situations.  This would only apply in jurisdictions that otherwise did not have any eviction protections.  It is also limited to individuals who expect to make less than $99,000 this year, if filing alone, or $198,000 if filing jointly.

Tobener Ravenscroft LLP is committed to staying open to help Bay Area tenants amid the coronavirus outbreak. 
Please call us at 415-504-2165 for more information.