California Eviction Protections during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The information below is for tenants across California. You may have additional rights under a city or county eviction moratorium if yours is still in effect.
On September 30, 2021, the California Legislature allowed many of the eviction protections in the statewide law Assembly Bill 832 (AB 832) to expire. Despite the state’s inaction, some protections remained in place for tenants who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic and have been unable to pay rent. These protections end on March 31, 2022.
Most rent debt originally owed between March 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 was converted into consumer debt and can never be the basis for an eviction (if the tenant followed all requirements, such as sending their landlord a declaration and paying part of the rent debt owed). Assuming the tenant abided by these requirements, they can never be legally evicted for this debt. The debt is, however, potentially collectible through other means such as small claims and regular civil court.
For all other tenants, having applied for rent assistance can be a defense in court if your landlord is evicting you specifically for nonpayment of rent, and that rent was originally due March 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022. This protection ends on March 31, 2022.
How do I Access the Eviction Protections?
If your landlord wants to evict you for not paying your rent, starting October 1, 2021, they can give you a 3-day notice to pay or quit. Once the landlord gives you that notice, you have fifteen days to apply for rent assistance funds and notify your landlord that you did so. If you do both of those things in time, your landlord is not legally supposed to file an eviction lawsuit against you for non-payment of rent. However, if your landlord is unscrupulous and files an eviction lawsuit anyway, you may need a lawyer to prevent the case from going forward. Landlords who do this are committing perjury, which is a crime.
If an eviction case for nonpayment of rent is already going forward against you and you have a rent assistance application pending, the court should not enter a judgment against you unless your application is denied.
If a court enters an eviction judgment against you (saying that you lose the case) for nonpayment of rent and your rent assistance application is later approved, the court is supposed to overturn the judgment against you and keep you in your home. These protections apply until you have left the property.
In general, these are protections that you will need an attorney to access.
These protections also apply only to tenants who moved into their homes prior to October 1, 2021. Unfortunately, if you moved in after that time, you will not have this specific protection from eviction, although other defenses may apply.
Notifying Your Landlord that You Applied for Rent Assistance
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to apply for rent assistance and then notify your landlord right away that you applied.
- 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.
Finally, it is very important that you can prove that you notified your landlord that you applied for rent assistance. You should send them a letter as soon as you apply. A sample letter is here. We recommend that you send this letter by email. If you choose to send the notification by mail, we suggest sending it by certified mail so that you have evidence that you sent it. Take a picture of the signed and dated letter with your phone before you mail it. Take a picture of the envelope with your landlord’s address on it as well. It is important to keep proof that you notified your landlord in case your landlord says they never received your notice.
Is the Rent Cancelled?
Sort of. The legislature created a robust rental assistance program for tenants who make less than 80% of the "area median income" adjusted amount. 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.
A landlord cannot legally “refuse” to take your rent, or rent assistance, and then try to evict you on that basis.
What if My Landlord Says They’re Evicting me for a Reason Other Than not Paying My Rent?
You may still be eligible for rent assistance, but if your landlord says in court papers that their reason for eviction is something other than nonpayment of rent, a rent assistance application will not be a defense to eviction.
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. Some of these local moratoria are still in place protecting tenants.
What Happens to Rent Due After March 31, 2022?
The above protections only apply to evictions based on rent that originally came due between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022. Unless the legislature extends the protections, they will expire at that point and no special COVID-19 eviction protections will exist, unless you live in a city or county with its own existing eviction protections for tenants.
ACCE Tenant Clinics
ACCE - Statewide
Every Thursday Conducted in English and Spanish, 6:30 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