San Francisco Tenant Protections During the Covid-19 Crisis
Temporary Eviction Moratorium
San Francisco has banned all evictions until at least August 30, 2020.
The eviction ban does not apply if the owner can show it is necessary to recover possession due to violence, threats of violence, or health and safety issues. The eviction ban also does not apply to Ellis Act evictions.
Specifically, the eviction ban applies if the effective date of the notice of termination would fall within two months after the date the Mayor’s Emergency Declaration expires. The Order was issued on April 30, 2020 and lasts for a period of two months, until the Proclamation of Local Emergency is terminated, or upon further Order from the Mayor, whichever occurs sooner. Assuming the Order lasts for two months, it is set to expire on June 30, 2020; therefore the eviction ban extends through August 30, 2020. These dates may be extended by Order of the Mayor.
This temporary eviction ban applies to all units in San Francisco.
Limitations on Evictions for Non-Payment to Provide Tenants Additional Time to Pay Rent
San Francisco has extended the time tenants have to pay rent by restricting evictions for nonpayment during the COVID-19 crisis.
A landlord is prohibited until at least December 30, 2020 from evicting a tenant for a missed rent payment that was due during the COVID-19 emergency if the tenant was unable to pay due to financial impacts of COVID-19.
To qualify for this protection, the following two conditions must be met:
- the missed rent payment must have been due between March 13, 2020 and the date the Order expires or is terminated (the Order is currently set to expire on June 30, 2020, but may be extended); and
- the tenant was unable to pay due to financial impacts of COVID-19, where “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.
The prohibition lasts until six months after the Order expires or is terminated. The Order is currently set to expire on June 30, 2020; therefore the prohibition on evictions for non-payment currently extends to December 30, 2020.
This prohibition on evictions for non-payment applies to the following types of units: (1) all units covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, including single-family homes, new construction, and owner/master tenant-occupied units; (2) all residential units in residential hotels regardless of how long the unit has been occupied; and (3) all units where the rent is controlled or regulated by the City.
The tenant is still obligated to pay rent. Eventually, all rent must be paid or the tenant may eventually face eviction for non-payment.
The tenant has until six months after the Order expires or is terminated to pay any past due rent that was due during the COVID-19 emergency. For example, if a tenant missed her May 1, 2020 rent payment, but repaid the rent prior to December 30, 2020, the landlord cannot evict the tenant for non-payment or late payment.
Tenants should notify their landlords if they are unable to pay and should provide supporting documentation. However, failure to provide notice and/or documentation does not affect a tenant’s ability to claim these protections.
Although payment plans are encouraged, a payment plan cannot shorten the six-month repayment period or waive any of these protections against evictions for nonpayment. Any such waiver is void and unenforceable.
Additionally, a landlord may not impose late fees or interest on unpaid rent during the COVID-19 emergency.
Temporary Rent Freeze
The rent freeze only applies to rent increases that would normally have been allowed under Section 37.3(a) of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance – for example, annual allowable rent increases, banked rent increases, operating and maintenance expense rent increases, and “pass-through” rent increases. The rent freeze applies to any rent increases that are effective between April 7, 2020 and June 23, 2020, although the date may be extended. Rent increases that went into effect prior to April 7, 2020 are unaffected.
The rent freeze does not apply to Costa-Hawkins rent increases or rent increases authorized by Rent Board Rule 1.21 where the original occupant is no longer a tenant in occupancy.
If you have questions about your tenant rights during the coronavirus crisis, contact our office at 415-294-4111 to speak to an experienced tenant lawyer.