COVID-19 California Eviction Moratoriums (Bans) and Tenant Protections

Learn about eviction moratoriums in California during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By , Attorney

Emergency COVID-19 measures rushed into place by Federal, state and local governments created a confusing patchwork of tenant protections. Now as the Pandemic winds down, many of these protections have as well. The main Federal eviction moratorium expired in July 2021, and California's eviction moratorium ended for almost all tenants in June, 2022. Still, a significant amount of local tenant protections remain. Tenants should check whether their city or county have eviction moratoriums or related measures in place (see Local Emergency Ordinances below).

FEDERAL PROTECTIONS

Currently, no Federal eviction-restrictions remain.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau maintains a helpful webpage of resources for tenants.

CALIFORNIA STATE PROTECTIONS

California Tenant Relief and Rental Housing Recovery Acts (expired)

In September 2020 the California Legislature hastily passed the California COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (CA Relief Act) to stop landlords from evicting residential tenants suffering COVID-related financial hardships, and on 1/28/21 enacted Senate Bill No. 91 COVID-19 Relief: Tenancy and Federal Rental Assistance (SB 91), which added rental assistance. Effective 6/30/21 AB 832 (the "Rental Housing Recovery Act") provided additional money to reimburse landlords 100% of unpaid rent incurred by qualifying tenants.Landlords and tenants could apply for assistance via a program called Housing Is Key. The statewide eviction moratorium expired on 9/30/21 for tenants who had not applied for rental assistance.

Limited eviction bans remain depending on when the unpaid rent was due:

  • For rent that was due 3/ 1/20 -- 8/31/20: Tenants who provided a Declaration of COVID-19-Related Financial Distress to their landlord cannot be evicted based upon the unpaid rent that was due between those dates;
  • For rent that was due 9/1/20 -- 9/30/21: Tenants who provided the above declaration AND paid at least 25% of the rent due during that period by 9/30/21 also cannot be evicted based upon the unpaid rent that was due between those dates.
  • Beginning 10/1/21 tenants were again expected to pay full rent and were subject to eviction for not doing so - unless they had applied for rental assistance (see below).

    Via the AB-2179 extension the legislature temporarily protected until June 30, 2022, tenants who had submitted applications for rental assistance

    • Until 6/30/22 tenants who applied for Housing is Key couldn't be evicted for non-payment while their application was pending, but could still be evicted for other reasons like causing a nuisance, etc.
    • Applications for Housing is Key closed on 4/1/22.
    • Tenants who were denied assistance could be evicted.
    • The extension only applied to rent due before 4/1/22. Tenants are expected to pay 100% of rent due from 4/1/22 going forward.

      LOCAL EMERGENCY ORDINANCES (and commercial tenant protections)

      Although the statewide moratoriums ended on June 30, 2022 for nearly all tenants, local emergency ordinances still may apply. In fact, some cities and counties (for example, Fairfax, San Diego, San Rafael, Pomona, Novato and Marin County) have created new temporary protections to address the June statewide expiration.

      Early in the pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed individual cities and counties to protect residential and commercial tenants suffering COVID-19 related financial hardships. Over 150 local entities quickly enacted ordinances banning either residential or commercial evictions, or both. Intended as short-term "stop-gap" measures, all of these local ordinance were created prior to the statewide protections, and most of them expired on 9/30/20. Still, although the statewide moratorium was meant to replace the remaining local ordinances, roughly 40 local ordinances are still in effect:

      • Residential tenants in cities or counties with unexpired local tenant protection ordinances may be protected from eviction (including for reasons other than non-payment of rent) and/or rent increases.
      • Many remaining local emergency eviction moratorium ordinances also protect commercial tenants.

      Check the chart below to see whether your city or county enacted an emergency ordinance, whether it's still in effect or been renewed, and if so what type of tenants it protects.

      If a Local Ordinance Exists:

      • Under most (but not all) local ordinances, you must have suffered a COVID-19 related substantial decrease in household or business income because of a layoff; reduction of work or business hours; decreasing demand; medical and childcare-related expenses; or from complying with any government response to COVID-19 (sheltering in place, etc.).
      • Prepare to prove your hardship. Most ordinances make tenants document COVID-19 financial difficulties with (for example) letters from an employer citing COVID-19 reduced work hours, termination, or other reductions; paycheck stubs and/or bank statements showing a post-outbreak pay cut; bills for out-of-pocket medical expenses; and/or documents showing the closure of a school or child care facility where a child would otherwise be during working hours.
      • Don't assume you are automatically protected. Almost all ordinances make you notify your landlord in writing that you can't pay rent - in many cases when or even before the rent is due. "In writing" generally includes emails or texts to your landlord or the landlord's representative when you have previously communicated via those methods. Ask for written confirmation that your landlord received your notification.
      • These ordinances are eviction moratoriums, not rent moratoriums. You are still responsible for unpaid rent, so try to negotiate a reasonable payment plan with your landlord.
      • Generally, landlords can still serve notices and file eviction actions. Most of these ordinances provide special defenses that tenants must raise.

      For All Tenants:

      Landlord-tenant law has become incredibly complex. If you've been served with legal documents, you must take action to avoid being evicted-in some cases as quickly as three days! Contact an attorney or a tenants' rights organization as soon as possible.

      CAUTION! This article and the ordinance chart below were last updated on 8/9/22, but this area of law is rapidly evolving. These local moratoriums change frequently, and many are contingent on states of emergency or related short-term authorizations.The material here can give you a broad idea of tenant protections - and protections apparently still in effect are listed in bold - but check your county and city government web pages and the actual ordinances/laws for the most recent information.

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