California Eviction Protections during the Covid-19 Pandemic
On June 28, 2021, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 832 which extended COVID-19 eviction protections. The law protects tenants that have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadly speaking, tenants who have lost income due to COVID, may not be evicted for non-payment of rent through September 30, 2021, and there are limited protections after that time.
Rent debt owed between March 2020 through September 30, 2020 is converted into consumer debt and can never be the basis for an eviction (if the tenant follows all requirements). The debt is however, collectable through other means such as small claims and regular civil court. However, the landlord may not seek the debt owed until November 1, 2021.
Tenants who were unable to pay their rent from September 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021 are required to pay at least 25% of their rent from this period before September 30, 2021 in order to avoid eviction. The remaining 75% of rent will be converted to consumer debt. The 25% could also be paid by a rent assistance program, if a tenant has not already paid it.
Is the Rent Cancelled?
Sort of. AB 832 and its predecessor bill created a robust rental assistance program for tenants who make less than 80% of the "area median income." This program will pay 100% of a tenant's back rent owed since April 1, 2020. Either a landlord or a tenant can begin the application process. If the landlord is the first to apply, the tenant must be sure to complete their application within 15 days. If a landlord refuses to participate, the tenant can receive the rent assistance money directly.
Tenants must provide a signed declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress if given a pay or quit notice by their landlord.
If you can’t pay your rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic, through September 30, 2021 your landlord must give you a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit before filing an eviction lawsuit for failure to pay rent.
If you receive a 15-day notice, within 15 days you must give your landlord a signed declaration that says that you cannot pay rent because of COVID-19.
If you give this declaration to your landlord, we recommend sending it by certified mail so that you have evidence that you send it. You should send this declaration to your landlord each time you receive a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit. Make a copy of the declaration after you sign it and keep proof that you sent this notice each time -- like your certified mail receipt.
Paying your Rent
If you owe rent that was due from March 1, 2020 - August 31, 2020: If you return the declaration to your landlord in time, you cannot be evicted for not paying this rent.
If you owe that was due from September 1, 2020 - September 30, 2021. You will need to pay 25% of the total rent between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 no later than September 30, 2021. You may be able to qualify for a rent assistance program through your city, county, or the state that will pay some or all of your back rent, including the 25%.
A state rent assistance program is available at housingiskey.com. If you were unable to pay rent because of the pandemic, you should apply for funding. Depending on where you live, you will either be able to apply through a local program or through a program administered by the state.
Other Types of Evictions
State law protects tenants from “no cause” evictions until October 1, 2021.
Your city or county may also have passed stronger protections than state law for other types of evictions or even for tenants who can’t pay rent.
Eviction Protections After September 2021
From October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, there will be limited protections for tenants being evicted for nonpayment of rent. These eviction cases may be paused to allow time for rent assistance applications to be processed. To be eligible, a tenant must apply for rent assistance within fifteen days of learning that their landlord has applied.
Rental Assistance is Here!
IF YOU’RE A TENANT:
Rent debt you owe could be entirely cancelled if you apply to the rent relief program, and you can apply for help paying your utilities
- You may qualify for rent relief funds if you owe rent that you could not pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. A full list of eligibility criteria is available at https://housing.ca.gov/. If you live in certain cities, you may need to apply directly to a local program instead.
- Apply online! The application will ask for your landlord’s email address to notify your landlord to fill out their portion.
- Send this linked letter to your landlord informing them of your rights and explaining that you want them to apply for rental assistance. If your landlord agrees to apply they may receive 100% of the rent that you owe.
- If your landlord refuses to apply and you qualify, then you can apply for 100% of the rent owed so long as you agree to pay this amount to your landlord.
- If you receive a notice that your landlord has applied for rent assistance, you should make sure to complete your portion of the application within 15 days.
IF YOU'RE A LANDLORD:
You may receive payment of 100% of the rent debt a tenant owes!
- You can apply online for rent relief if your tenants were unable to pay rent due to covid-19 and they qualify for the program. The application will ask for the tenant’s email address so the tenant can be notified of the application and fill out their portion. The state program will provide 100% of the rent that a tenant owes.
How to apply:
Both landlords and tenants can fill out the rent relief application at https://housing.ca.gov/ > CA COVID-19 rent relief. If you live in a city or county that has its own separate rent assistance program, you can apply for rent relief from your local program rather than the state site. If you are not sure where to find this information, a link to your local program is available here. Some of these local programs have different terms.
ACCE Tenant Clinics
ACCE - Statewide
Every Thursday Conducted in English and Spanish, 7:00 PM
ACCE - San Diego
Every Friday, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84094794785
Call: +1 (669) 900-6833
Zoom Meeting ID: 840 9479 4785 or One Tap Mobile: +16699006833,,84094794785#
ACCE - Los Angeles
Every Tuesday, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Conducted in Spanish, translated into English
Zoom Meeting ID: 883 2443 4157
Every Thursday, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Conducted in English, translated into Spanish
ACCE - Sacramento
Every first Thursday of the month, 5:30 PM
ACCE - Contra Costa
Every third Wednesday of the month, 6:00 PM