On April 30, San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a new Order amending San Francisco’s Covid-19 eviction protections. The new Order simplifies and strengthens the protections relating to a tenant’s inability to pay rent due to Covid-19-related financial reasons by eliminating the requirement that the tenant notify the landlord within 30 days of when rent is due and by eliminating the requirement that the tenant provide documentation within seven days of notifying the landlord of the tenant’s inability to pay.
Under the new Order, a landlord is prohibited from evicting a tenant due to a missed rent payment if the tenant was unable to pay due to financial impacts of Covid-19. The prohibition lasts until six months after the Order expires or is terminated.
The tenant is still nominally required to notify the landlord of the tenant’s inability to pay and provide documentation, but the failure to do so does not waive the tenant’s protections against eviction under the Order.
The eviction protections in the Order apply to all rental units covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, including single-family homes, new construction, and owner/master tenant-occupied units.
Additionally, the Order states that any payment plan entered into between the tenant and landlord cannot waive the tenant’s protections under the Order.
The Order prohibits the imposition of late fees or interest on unpaid rent if the rent is late or unpaid because of financial impacts of Covid-19.
The Order prohibits a landlord from imposing a rent increase until one month after the Order expires or is terminated.
The Order prohibits ALL evictions (except Ellis Act evictions and evictions necessary due to violence, threats of violence, or health and safety issues) if the notice of termination falls within two months after the Order expires.
The Order will last for two months, until the Proclamation of Local Emergency is terminated, or upon further Order from the Mayor, whichever occurs sooner. The Order may be extended by the Mayor.
As it relates to tenant protections, the full text of the Order is as follows:
(1) Sections 1 and 2 of the Fifth Supplement to the Emergency Proclamation, dated
March 23, 2020 and extended by the Mayor on April 22, 2020, are revised and replaced as follows:
(a) Notwithstanding Sections 37.9(a)(1) or 37.9(b) of the Administrative Code, no owner shall evict a residential tenant due to a missed rent payment that was due between March 13, 2020 and the date this Order expires or is terminated, if the tenant was unable to pay due to financial impacts of COVID-19, until six months after the date this Order expires or is terminated. The tenant shall have at least until the six-month mark to pay any past due rent, and may use the protections of this subsection (1)(a) as an affirmative defense to any action to evict due to the non-payment.
(i) The protections of this subsection (1)(a) shall apply to the following types of units:
(A) all rental units covered by the Chapter 37 of the Administrative Code (including without limitation single-family homes, new construction, and owner/master tenant-occupied units);
(B) all residential units in residential hotels regardless of how long the unit has been occupied; and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (“MOHCD”) may adopt regulations to toll the 32-day period for establishing permanent residency in such units in cases where the landlord was prohibited from evicting due to this Order; and
(C) all units where the rent is controlled or regulated by the City, including without limitation privately-operated units regulated by MOHCD or the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.
(ii) This subsection (1)(a) shall also apply to evictions based on nonpayment of late fees and interest due to missed rent payments, nonpayment of monies due under existing stipulations or payment plans, or failure to replenish or increase security deposits.
(iii) Tenants shall notify their landlords if they are unable to pay due to financial impacts of COVID-19 and shall provide supporting documentation. However, failure to provide notice and/or documentation to the landlord shall not affect a tenant’s ability to claim the protections of this subsection (1)(a) as an affirmative defense in the event the landlord files an action to evict for non-payment. Supporting documentation shall be required in court, though a court may in its discretion waive this requirement in circumstances such as where the documentation is unavailable.
(iv) For purposes of this Order, “financial impacts” means a substantial loss of household income due to business closure, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, layoffs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket expenses. A financial impact is “related to COVID-19” if it was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mayor’s Proclamation, the Local Health Officer’s Declaration of Local Health Emergency, or orders or recommended guidance related to COVID-19 from local, state, or federal authorities.
(v) Landlords and tenants are strongly encouraged to discuss payments plans for the tenant to repay all or a portion of the back rent. A payment plan may not shorten the six-month period or otherwise require a tenant to waive any of the protections of this subsection (1)(a). A landlord may accept partial rent payments or temporarily discount the rent, without affecting the maximum allowable base rent. Tenants who are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts of COVID-19 shall also be eligible to participate in the Good Samaritan program set forth in Section 37.2(a)(1)(D) of the Administrative Code.
(vi) Nothing in this subsection (1)(a) relieves a tenant of the obligation to pay rent, nor restricts any remedy of the landlord other than to evict for non-payment.
(b) No owner may impose late fees or interest on rent not paid under subsection
(1)(a). In addition, no owner of a unit identified in subsection (1)(a)(i)(C) may impose a rent increase, either under an existing lease (including a lease modification) or through the renewal of an expired lease, until one month after the date this Order expires or is terminated.
(c) No owner shall recover possession of a residential dwelling unit, including but not limited to any unit specified in subsection (1)(a)(i), if the effective date of the notice of termination would fall within two months after the date this Order expires, unless the owner can show it is necessary to recover possession due to violence, threats of violence, or health and safety issues. This subsection (1)(c) shall apply to evictions under Section 37.9(a)(13) only if and when the Governor or State Legislature authorize such limitations on Ellis Act evictions during this state of emergency.
(d) The Director of MOHCD or the Director’s designee, in consultation with the Executive Director of the Rent Board as appropriate, shall have the authority to adopt regulations and publish guidelines with respect to the types of documentation that may show financial impacts related to COVID-19, notices that landlords must use to inform tenants of the protections of this Order, and such other matters as MOHCD may deem appropriate in order to effectuate the purposes of this Order.
(e) This Order shall last for a period of two months, until the Proclamation of Local Emergency is terminated, or upon further Order from the Mayor, whichever occurs sooner. The Mayor may extend this Order by an additional period of one month if conditions at that time warrant extension. The Mayor shall provide notice of the extension through an Executive Order posted on the Mayor’s website and delivered to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors.
The full Order can be found here.