Covid-19: Eviction Protection in California During the Outbreak | Tobener Ravenscroft LLP

Covid-19: Eviction Protection in California During the Outbreak

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. 

Protection From Eviction in California During Coronavirus Outbreak

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.  The order is in effect until May 31, 2020.  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.

Additionally, here are 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 is in effect until April 24, 2020, unless extended.  Once the moratorium is lifted, renters will have 6 months to pay rent that is owed.  During the 6 months, the landlord can ask for documentation of the tenant’s inability to pay.  At the end of the 6 months, if rent is still back owed, the landlord can proceed with attempting to evict for nonpayment.  For eviction orders already issued by the courts before March 13, 2020, but not yet carried out, the SF Sheriff’s Office agreed to postpone executing those eviction orders.
    • 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 are not able to pay rent because of a documented impact related to COVID-19.
    • On March 24, 2020, San Francisco placed a temporary ban on service of 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.  As the state of emergency is extended, this protection will also be extended.  This applies to any no-fault notice of termination of tenancy (except for an Ellis Act) that expires during the state of emergency or 60 days after.  This change effectively shuts down no-fault eviction notices, except under the Ellis Act (because it is a state-permitted procedure). 
  • 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 your landlord that you are unable to pay rent because of the financial impacts of the coronavirus.  You 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.
  • Alameda County
    – Individual cities in Alameda County are considering eviction moratoriums, but as of March 27, 2020, Oakland is the only city to issue an order.  Practically speaking, however, for residents in other areas of Alameda County, the courts are closed to the public, meaning it’s nearly impossible for a landlord to file an eviction case right now.  All eviction cases filed before March 17, 2020 are pushed back 21 days.  Additionally, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which carries out eviction orders already issued by the court, said it would suspend enforcement of evictions temporarily because of the coronavirus.
  • Marin County
    On March 24, 2020, the 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.  The moratorium is in effect until May 31, 2020 and applies to all of Marin, including cities, towns, and unincorporated areas.  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.  Among other things, the fund will provide emergency rental assistance for low-income residents.
  • 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 May 31, 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.  One the moratorium is over, tenants have 120 days to pay back overdue 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 April 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.
  • Mountain View
    – Although the city has not passed any ban or moratorium on evictions, like other Bay Area cities, on March 17, 2020, the Mountain View City Council voted to create a $500,000 renter assistance program in an attempt to stave off evictions amount large economic losses for individuals.  Money from the fund is available for renters who cannot afford to pay rent due to the public health crisis.  If you are facing difficulty paying rent in Mountain View, contact the Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos, which is operating the relief fund.
  • 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.
  • 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 through March 31, 2020, unless extended.  The order gives tenants affected by COVID-19 up to three months following expiration of the local emergency period to repay any back rent due. 
  • Santa Monica
    – Landlords are barred from evicting residential tenants for nonpayment of rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19.
  • Culver City
    – Residential landlords are blocked from evicting tenants who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to COVID-19.
  • San Diego
    On March 24, 2020, San Diego County put a moratorium on both residential and commercial evictions due to non-payment of rent until May 31, 2020.  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 May 31, 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.  The moratorium does not relieve tenants of the requirement to eventually pay rent, which is due upon expiration of the moratorium or at the time of move out if the tenant decides to vacate while the emergency ordinance is in effect.
  • Oakland, Hayward, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Long Beach, and Santa Ana are considering bans on evictions due to inability to pay because of coronavirus.  Please call us at 415-504-2165 for up to date information.

Additionally, on 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 lasts through the end of April 2020.  This order only halts evictions on HUD-owned housing, and does not affect evictions on private rentals. 

Court Closures During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Even if your city or county has not issued a moratorium or ban on evictions due to inability to pay rent, you are likely temporarily protected from evictions because most courts are closed and trials have been postponed.   Below are some of the biggest court closures and how those affect housing and eviction cases:

  • All Superior Courts in California
    On March 24, 2020, the Chief Justice of California announced that in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, all jury trials are suspended and continued for 60 days (until May 24, 2020). 
  • San Francisco County
    – All eviction trials, motions, and discovery are halted for 90 days, except cases resulting from violence, threats of violence or health and safety issues.  This will extend the time to answer any eviction lawsuit served before March 18, 2020 that is not in the exception for the 30 days plus 5 court days.  The court has drastically reduced operations and closed 75% of all courtrooms, all clerks’ offices, and the ACCESS Center for 30 days, starting on March 18, 2020. All civil trials currently set between March 17 and April 15, 2020 will be continued on a rolling basis for 90 days form the currently scheduled trial date.  The clerk’s office will be closed from March 17 to April 15, 2020.  A drop box is available for new and subsequent filings in the lobby of the Civic Center Courthouse and will be checked throughout each court day.  
  • Alameda County
    – All eviction trials and motions are pushed back 21 days and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department will not be enforcing evictions for the time being.  The Clerk’s Office will not be open to process unlawful detainer stay requests, so the court ordered a stay of all evictions through April 8, 2020.  Courthouse locations are all closed to the public from March 17 to April 7, 2020.  The days in the closure period that would otherwise be business days will be treated as “Court Holidays” for the purpose of statutory time and date calculations. 
  • Contra Costa County
    – All court locations will be closed until at least April 1, 2020.
  • Santa Clara County
    – All trials and hearings between March 17 and April 5, 2020 will be rescheduled, except for ongoing trials. 
  • San Mateo County
    – All courts are currently closed.

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.

We’re here to help.
Call us to speak to a tenant lawyer.
Or message us now.