On August 31, 2020, California enacted the Tenant, Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 (also known as AB 3088) to provide protections to tenants affected by Covid-19. Note that because the California tenant protections are stronger than those recently put in place at the federal level by the CDC, the CDC protections do not apply to California. Also note that San Francisco has additional Covid-19 tenant protections.
The California Department of Real Estate has published guidelines describing the California protections. The guidelines are:
If you were unable to pay all or some of your rent between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020
- If your landlord gives you a notice to “pay or quit,” they must provide a notification which explains your rights and obligations. (A notice to “pay or quit” is a notice from your landlord that gives you a certain amount of time to pay the outstanding rent you owe or vacate your home.)
- You cannot be evicted IF you return a declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress, signed under penalty of perjury, and returned within 15 business days of receiving a notice to “pay or quit.”
Your landlord must provide this declaration to you to complete and sign, and it must be in the language of your rental agreement.
It is very important that you provide the signed declaration within 15 business days or an eviction proceeding may be filed against you.
- If your household income is more than 130% of the median household income in your county and more than $100,000, your landlord may demand proof of your COVID-19 related hardship be provided to support your declaration. There are several things you can use to satisfy this requirement, such as a tax return, pay stubs, and a statement from your employer, among other things.
- If you are unable to provide the declaration to your landlord within 15 business days, you may still submit the declaration to the court for similar protections if you have a “good reason” for not providing it.
“Good reasons” include mistakes, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect as interpreted in the California Code of Civil Procedure.
If you were unable to pay all or some of your rent between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021
- All of the same rights and obligations above apply.
- In addition, by January 31, 2021, you must pay at least 25% of the rent due during the period of September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
You may do this by paying at least 25% each month, or by paying a lump sum equaling 25% of your rent during the time period, or by some other means.
The key thing to remember is that – by January 31, 2021 – you must pay 25% of the rent due between September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
Other Things You Need to Know
- Tenants can still be evicted for other reasons, such as health and safety violations.
- Existing local government eviction ordinances may remain in place until they expire, but they may not defer rent obligations beyond March 1, 2020.
- Landlords who do such things as lock tenants out, remove personal property or shut of utility services to evict a tenant, rather than going through the required court process, could faces fines of between $1,000 and $2,500. These penalties are in effect until February 1, 2021.
- If you believe you have been unlawfully evicted or if you need legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. If you need low- or no-cost legal help, visit www.lawhelpca.org and/or https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/resources/tenant.html for additional resources.