FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act comprises two statewide laws. These laws are the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (AB 3088), which took effect on August 31, 2020, and the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act (SB 91), which took effect on February 1, 2021. AB 3088 initially imposed a statewide moratorium on evictions between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021 for tenants unable to pay some or all of their rent due to COVID-19-related financial distress provided the tenant timely submitted to his/her landlord a signed Declaration of Financial Distress. SB 91 extends the moratorium on evictions through June 30, 2021. SB 91 has additional protections, including providing financial assistance to qualifying landlords and tenants to pay a portion of the tenant’s unpaid rent between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
[See Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1179.02, 1179.03.]

"COVID-19-related financial distress" means ANY of following:

  1. Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limit a tenant’s ability to earn income.
  5. Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced a tenant’s income or increased a tenant’s expenses. [ Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(b).]

COVID-19 Rental Debt from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020

Subject to certain exceptions, if a tenant has experienced COVID-19-related financial distress and has not been able to pay part or all of the rent to their landlord between March 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, the tenant cannot be evicted for failure to pay rent so long as they sign and return a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress (Declaration) to the landlord within 15 days of receiving a Declaration form from the landlord. The tenant will need to submit to his/her landlord a new declaration each time the landlord serves the tenant with a new 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. The landlord may serve the tenant with one 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit covering several months or separate 15-Day Notices to Pay or Quit for each month of unpaid rent.
[Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(f), 1179.03(b).]

COVID-19 Rental Debt from September 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021

Subject to certain exceptions, if a tenant has experienced COVID-19-related financial distress and has not been able to pay part or all of the rent to their landlord between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, the tenant cannot be evicted for failure to pay rent so long as they sign and return a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress (Declaration) to the landlord within 15 days of receiving a Declaration form from the landlord, AND, on or before June 30, 2021, the tenant pays at least 25% of each rental payment that was due, or will be due, between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. The tenant will need to submit to his/her landlord a new declaration each time the landlord serves the tenant with a new 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. The landlord may serve the tenant with one 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit covering several months or separate 15-Day Notices to Pay or Quit for each month of unpaid rent.
[Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(i), 1179.03(c).]

COVID-19 Rental Debt is unpaid rent or any other unpaid financial obligation of a tenant under the tenancy that came due during the time period between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(c).]

Yes, a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress must include the following written statement:

I am currently unable to pay my rent or other financial obligations under the lease in full because of one or more of the following:

  1. Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Increased expenses directly related to health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limit my ability to earn income.
  5. Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced my income or increased my expenses.

Any public assistance, including unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, state disability insurance (SDI), or paid family leave, that I have received since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic does not fully make up for my loss of income and/or increased expenses.

Signed under penalty of perjury:
Dated:

[Tenant Relief Act, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(d).]

The 15-day time limit for the tenant to sign and return the Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress (Declaration) starts the day after the notice is personally delivered to you, and ends 15 business days later, excluding weekends and holidays. [Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1179.03(b)(1) and (c)(1).]

Example: If the landlord provides the tenant with an eviction notice and a Declaration form on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 the tenant has until Wednesday, March 3, 2021 to return the signed form to the landlord. The 15-day period starts on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, and does not include any weekend days, and also does not include President’s Day.

The tenant may deliver the declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress to the landlord by ANY of the following methods:

  1. In person, if the landlord indicates in the notice an address at which the declaration may be delivered in person.

  2. by e-mail, if the landlord indicates an e-mail address in the notice to which the declaration may be delivered.

  3. Through U.S. mail to the address indicated by the landlord in the notice. If the landlord does not provide an address for delivery in person, then upon the mailing of the declaration by the tenant to the address provided by the landlord, the declaration is deemed received by the landlord on the date posted, if the tenant can show proof of mailing to the address provided by the landlord.

  4. Through any of the same methods that the tenant can use to deliver the payment pursuant to the notice if delivery of the declaration by that method is possible. [Tenant Relief Act, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.03(f).]

No matter which method tenants select to deliver their declaration, tenants should retain a copy of the declaration for their own records.

Yes, the tenant will still owe any unpaid rent to the landlord and can be sued for the money in small claims court, even if the amount of unpaid rent exceeds the $5,000 limit for small claims court cases. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 116.223(b)(1).]

A “high-income tenant” is a tenant with an annual household income of 130 percent of the median income, as published by the Department of Housing and Community Development in the Official State Income Limits for 2020, for the county in which the residential rental property is located. The definition of “high-income tenant” does not include a tenant with a household income of less than $100,000. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02.5(a)(1).]

If the landlord has provided the appropriate notice of demand to pay rent and an unsigned copy of the Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress, and the tenant fails to return a signed Declaration to the landlord, or fails to return it within 15 days (weekends and judicial holidays excluded), the tenant is not protected from eviction under the Tenant Relief Act for nonpayment of rent during the period of March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. [COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.03.5(a)(2).]

If the landlord has provided the appropriate notice of demand to pay rent, including the required "high-income tenant" language and an unsigned copy of the Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress, and the tenant fails to provide appropriate documentation together with a signed Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress, the tenant will not be protected from eviction for nonpayment of rent under the Tenant Relief Act. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02.5(e).]

No, the COVID-19 rental debt protections only protect tenants of residential property. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(h)(1).]

No, the COVID-19 rental debt protections do not apply to hotels, motels, residence clubs, or other transient occupancy facilities subject to a transient occupancy tax, also known as a “hotel tax.” [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(h)(2).]

Landlords covered by the COVID-19 rental debt protections include all of the following or the agent of any of the following:

  1. An owner of residential real property.
  2. An owner of a residential rental unit.
  3. An owner of a mobilehome park.
  4. An owner of a mobilehome park space or lot. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02(e).]

On or before September 30, 2020, a landlord must provide, in at least 12-point type, the following notice to tenants who, as of September 1, 2020, have not paid one or more rental payments that came due during the period March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020. This notice must be given before or concurrently with the 15-Day Pay or Quit Notice if the landlord wants to commence an unlawful detainer action (i.e., eviction lawsuit).

"NOTICE FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA: The California Legislature has enacted the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 which protects renters who have experienced COVID-19-related financial distress from being evicted for failing to make rental payments due between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021.
"COVID-19-related financial distress" means any of the following:

  1. If you failed to make rental payments due between March 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, because you had decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as described above, you cannot be evicted based on this nonpayment.
  2. If you are unable to pay rental payments that come due between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, because of decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as described above, you cannot be evicted if you pay 25 percent of the rental payments missed during that time period on or before January 31, 2021.
    You must provide, to your landlord, a declaration under penalty of perjury of your COVID-19-related financial distress attesting to the decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be protected by the eviction limitations described above. Before your landlord can seek to evict you for failing to make a payment that came due between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, your landlord will be required to give you a 15-day notice that informs you of the amounts owed and includes a blank declaration form you can use to comply with this requirement.
    If your landlord has proof of income on file which indicates that your household makes at least 130 percent of the median income for the county where the rental property is located, as published by the Department of Housing and Community Development in the Official State Income Limits for 2020, your landlord may also require you to provide documentation which shows that you have experienced a decrease in income or increase in expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your landlord must tell you in the 15-day notice whether your landlord is requiring that documentation. Any form of objectively verifiable documentation that demonstrates the financial impact you have experienced is sufficient, including a letter from your employer, an unemployment insurance record, or medical bills, and may be provided to satisfy the documentation requirement.
    It is very important you do not ignore a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit or a notice to perform covenants or quit from your landlord. If you are served with a 15-day notice and do not provide the declaration form to your landlord before the 15-day notice expires, you could be evicted. You could also be evicted beginning February 1, 2021, if you owe rental payments due between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, and you do not pay an amount equal to at least 25 percent of the payments missed for that time period.
    For information about legal resources that may be available to you, visit lawhelpca.org." Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.04(a).]

    The above notice may be provided to tenants in the same manner as an eviction notice, or may be sent by mail. Landlords are required by February 28, 2021 to provide their tenants with a new/different notice if their tenants failed to pay some or all of their rent between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. The next FAQ addresses this new/different notice.

On or before February 28, 2021, a landlord must provide, in at least 12-point type, the following notice to tenants who, as of February 1, 2021, have not paid one or more rental payments that came due during the period March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. This notice must be given before or concurrently with the 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit if the landlord wants to initiate an unlawful detainer action (i.e., eviction lawsuit).

"NOTICE FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA: The California Legislature has enacted the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act which protects renters who have experienced COVID-19-related financial distress from being evicted for failing to make rental payments due between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
"COVID-19-related financial distress" means any of the following:

  1. Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limit your ability to earn income.
  5. Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced your income or increased your expenses.
    This law gives you the following protections:

  1. If you failed to make rental payments due between March 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, because you had decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as described above, you cannot be evicted based on this nonpayment.
  2. If you are unable to pay rental payments that come due between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, because of decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as described above, you cannot be evicted if you pay 25 percent of the rental payments missed during that time period on or before June 30, 2021.
    You must provide, to your landlord, a declaration under penalty of perjury of your COVID-19-related financial distress attesting to the decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be protected by the eviction limitations described above. Before your landlord can seek to evict you for failing to make a payment that came due between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, your landlord will be required to give you a 15-day notice that informs you of the amounts owed and includes a blank declaration form you can use to comply with this requirement.
    If your landlord has proof of income on file which indicates that your household makes at least 130 percent of the median income for the county where the rental property is located, as published by the Department of Housing and Community Development in the Official State Income Limits for 2020, your landlord may also require you to provide documentation which shows that you have experienced a decrease in income or increase in expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your landlord must tell you in the 15-day notice whether your landlord is requiring that documentation. Any form of objectively verifiable documentation that demonstrates the financial impact you have experienced is sufficient, including a letter from your employer, an unemployment insurance record, or medical bills, and may be provided to satisfy the documentation requirement.
    It is very important you do not ignore a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit or a notice to perform covenants or quit from your landlord. If you are served with a 15-day notice and do not provide the declaration form to your landlord before the 15-day notice expires, you could be evicted. You could also be evicted beginning July 1, 2021, if you owe rental payments due between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, and you do not pay an amount equal to at least 25 percent of the payments missed for that time period.

    YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE. In addition to extending these eviction protections, the State of California, in partnership with federal and local governments, has created an emergency rental assistance program to assist renters who have been unable to pay their rent and utility bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program may be able to help you get caught up with past-due rent. Additionally, depending on the availability of funds, the program may also be able to assist you with making future rental payments.
    While not everyone will qualify for this assistance, you can apply for it regardless of your citizenship or immigration status. There is no charge to apply for or receive this assistance.
    Additional information about the extension of the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act and new state or local rental assistance programs, including more information about how to qualify for assistance, can be found by visiting https://housing.ca.gov or by calling 1-833-422-4255.”

The above notice may be provided to tenants in the same manner as an eviction notice, or may be sent by mail.

(Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.04(b).)

If the landlord has given the tenant an eviction notice, and a form for a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress (Declaration), the tenant cannot be evicted as long as the tenant signs and returns the Declaration to the landlord within 15 days (excluding weekends and judicial holidays). [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.03(g).]

If the landlord has given the tenant an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent between March 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, but the landlord failed to provide the notice required by the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, or fails to provide a Declaration form with the eviction notice, the eviction notice will be deemed insufficient and an unlawful detainer case brought by the landlord may be dismissed by the court. [Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1179.03(a)(1) and (2).]

If the tenant fails to return a signed Declaration within 15 days (weekends holidays excluded) the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant.

If the landlord has given the tenant an eviction notice, and a form for a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress (Declaration), the tenant cannot be evicted as long as the tenant signs and returns the Declaration to the landlord within 15 days (excluding weekends and judicial holidays). [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.03(g).]

If the landlord has given the tenant an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, but the landlord fails to provide the notice required by the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, or fails to provide a Declaration form with the eviction notice, the eviction notice will be deemed insufficient and an unlawful detainer case brought by the landlord may be dismissed by the court. [Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1179.03(a)(1) and (2).]

If the tenant fails to return a signed Declaration within 15 days (weekends holidays excluded) the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant.

If the landlord has given the required notice demanding payment of rent, setting forth the amount of rent due and the date each amount became due, and the tenant fails to pay, on or before June 30, 2021, an amount that equals at least 25% of each rental payment that came due or will come due during the period between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant.

First, a landlord cannot give notice to a tenant demanding the payment of rent that came due during the period from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, before the landlord has provided the notice required to be provided on or before September 30, 2020. (See above). The notice demanding payment of rent and the notice required to be provided on or before September 30, 2020, may be provided to the tenant at the same time. [Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1179.04(d)(1) and (2).]

If the notice demands payment of rent that came due during the period from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, the notice must comply with the following:

  1. The time period in which the tenant may pay the amount due or deliver possession of the property must be no shorter than 15 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays (holidays on which the court is closed).

  2. The notice must set forth the amount of rent demanded and the date each amount became due.

  3. The notice must advise the tenant that the tenant cannot be evicted for failure to comply with the notice if the tenant delivers a signed declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress to the landlord on or before the date that the notice to pay rent or quit or notice to perform covenants or quit expires.

  4. The notice must include the following text in at least 12-point font:

    "NOTICE FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA: If you are unable to pay the amount demanded in this notice, and have decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19, your landlord will not be able to evict you for this missed payment if you sign and deliver the declaration form included with your notice to your landlord within 15 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays, but you will still owe this money to your landlord. If you do not sign and deliver the declaration within this time period, you may lose the eviction protections available to you. You must return this form to be protected. You should keep a copy or picture of the signed form for your records.
    You will still owe this money to your landlord and can be sued for the money, but you cannot be evicted from your home if you comply with these requirements. You should keep careful track of what you have paid and any amount you still owe to protect your rights and avoid future disputes. Failure to respond to this notice may result in an unlawful detainer action (eviction) being filed against you.
    For information about legal resources that may be available to you, visit lawhelpca.org."

  5. The notice must be accompanied by an unsigned copy of a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress that contains the following statement:

    I am currently unable to pay my rent or other financial obligations under the lease in full because of one or more of the following:

    1. Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    2. Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    3. Increased expenses directly related to health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    4. Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limit my ability to earn income.

    5. Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    6. Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced my income or increased my expenses.

    Any public assistance, including unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, state disability insurance (SDI), or paid family leave, that I have received since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic does not fully make up for my loss of income and/or increased expenses.
    Signed under penalty of perjury:
    Dated:

    [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.03(b).]

First, a landlord cannot give notice to a tenant demanding the payment of rent that came due during the period from September 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021, before the landlord has provided the proper notice required to be provided on or before February 28, 2021. (See below). The notice demanding payment of rent and the notice required to be provided on or before February 28, 2021, may be provided to the tenant at the same time. [Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1179.04(d)(1) and (2).]

If the notice demands payment of rent that came due during the period from September 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021, the notice must comply with the following:

  1. The time period in which the tenant may pay the amount due or deliver possession of the property must be no shorter than 15 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays (holidays on which the court is closed).

  2. The notice must set forth the amount of rent demanded and the date each amount became due.

  3. The notice must advise the tenant that the tenant will not be evicted for failure to comply with the notice, if the tenant delivers a signed declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress to the landlord on or before the date the notice to pay rent or quit or notice to perform covenants or quit expires.

  4. For notices provided before February 1, 2021, the notice must include the following text in at least 12-point type:
    "NOTICE FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA: If you are unable to pay the amount demanded in this notice, and have decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19, you may sign and deliver the declaration form included with your notice to your landlord within 15 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays, and your landlord will not be able to evict you for this missed payment so long as you make the minimum payment (see below). You will still owe this money to your landlord. You should keep a copy or picture of the signed form for your records.

    If you provide the declaration form to your landlord as described above AND, on or before January 31, 2021, you pay an amount that equals at least 25 percent of each rental payment that came due or will come due during the period between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, that you were unable to pay as a result of decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19, your landlord cannot evict you. Your landlord may require you to submit a new declaration form for each rental payment that you do not pay that comes due between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021.

    For example, if you provided a declaration form to your landlord regarding your decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19 that prevented you from making your rental payment in September and October of 2020, your landlord could not evict you if, on or before June 30, January 31, 2021, you made a payment equal to 25 percent of September’s and October's rental payment (i.e., half a month’s rent). If you were unable to pay any of the rental payments that came due between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, and you provided your landlord with the declarations in response to each 15-day notice your landlord sent to you during that time period, your landlord could not evict you if, on or before January 31, 2021, you paid your landlord an amount equal to 25 percent of all the rental payments due from September through January (i.e., one and a quarter month’s rent).

    You will still owe the full amount of the rent to your landlord, but you cannot be evicted from your home if you comply with these requirements. You should keep careful track of what you have paid and any amount you still owe to protect your rights and avoid future disputes. Failure to respond to this notice may result in an unlawful detainer action (eviction) being filed against you.

    For information about legal resources that may be available to you, visit lawhelpca.org."

  5. For notices provided on or after February 1, 2021, the notice shall include the following text in at least 12-point type:
    “NOTICE FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA: If you are unable to pay the amount demanded in this notice, and have decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19, you may sign and deliver the declaration form included with your notice to your landlord within 15 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays, and your landlord will not be able to evict you for this missed payment so long as you make the minimum payment (see below). You will still owe this money to your landlord. You should keep a copy or picture of the signed form for your records.

    If you provide the declaration form to your landlord as described above AND, on or before June 30, 2021, you pay an amount that equals at least 25 percent of each rental payment that came due or will come due during the period between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, that you were unable to pay as a result of decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19, your landlord cannot evict you. Your landlord may require you to submit a new declaration form for each rental payment that you do not pay that comes due between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

    If you were unable to pay any of the rental payments that came due between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, and you provided your landlord with the declarations in response to each 15-day notice your landlord sent to you during that time period, your landlord could not evict you if, on or before June 30, 2021, you paid your landlord an amount equal to 25 percent of all the rental payments due from September 2020 through June 2021.

    You will still owe the full amount of the rent to your landlord, but you cannot be evicted from your home if you comply with these requirements. You should keep careful track of what you have paid and any amount you still owe to protect your rights and avoid future disputes. Failure to respond to this notice may result in an unlawful detainer action (eviction) being filed against you.

    YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE. In addition to extending these eviction protections, the State of California, in partnership with federal and local governments, has created an emergency rental assistance program to assist renters who have been unable to pay their rent and utility bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program may be able to help you get caught up with past-due rent. Additionally, depending on the availability of funds, the program may also be able to assist you with making future rental payments.

    While not everyone will qualify for this assistance, you can apply for it regardless of your citizenship or immigration status. There is no charge to apply for or receive this assistance.

    Additional information about the extension of the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act and new state or local rental assistance programs, including more information about how to qualify for assistance, can be found by visiting https://housing.ca.gov or by calling 1-833-422-4255.”

  6. The notice must be accompanied by an unsigned copy of a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress that contains the following statement:

    I am currently unable to pay my rent or other financial obligations under the lease in full because of one or more of the following:

    1. Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    2. Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    3. Increased expenses directly related to health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    4. Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limit my ability to earn income.
    5. Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    6. Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced my income or increased my expenses.
      Any public assistance, including unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, state disability insurance (SDI), or paid family leave, that I have received since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic does not fully make up for my loss of income and/or increased expenses.

    Signed under penalty of perjury:
    Dated:

    [, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.03(c).]

Yes, if the landlord was required to provide a translation of the rental contract or agreement in the language in which the contract or agreement was negotiated, the landlord must also provide the unsigned copy of the declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress to the tenant in the language in which the contract or agreement was negotiated. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.03(d).]

Yes, but only if, first, the landlord has proof of the tenant’s income in the landlord’s possession before serving a notice demanding payment of rent that includes the “high-income” notice language. [Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02.5(b)(1).] Second, the landlord has served the appropriate notice to the high-income tenant demanding the payment of rent that came due during the period from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, or during the period from September 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, together with an unsigned copy of the Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress. [, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02.5(c).] And third, the landlord has also included the following language on the notice demanding the payment of rent in at least 12-point font:

"Proof of income on file with your landlord indicates that your household makes at least 130 percent of the median income for the county where the rental property is located, as published by the Department of Housing and Community Development in the Official State Income Limits for 2020. As a result, if you claim that you are unable to pay the amount demanded by this notice because you have suffered COVID-19-related financial distress, you are required to submit to your landlord documentation supporting your claim together with the completed declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress provided with this notice. If you fail to submit this documentation together with your declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress, and you do not either pay the amount demanded in this notice or deliver possession of the premises back to your landlord as required by this notice, you will not be covered by the eviction protections enacted by the California Legislature as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and your landlord can begin eviction proceedings against you as soon as this 15-day notice expires." [Tenant Relief Act, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02.5(d).]

If the landlord has served the appropriate notice and an unsigned copy of the Declaration, the landlord may require a high-income tenant to provide objectively verifiable documentation that demonstrates the COVID-19-related financial distress the tenant has experienced. Such documentation includes any of the following:

  1. Proof of income based on any of the following:
    1. A tax return.
    2. A W-2.
    3. A written statement from a tenant’s employer that specifies the tenant's income.
    4. Pay stubs.
    5. Documentation showing regular distributions from a trust, annuity, 401k, pension, or other financial instrument.
    6. Documentation of court-ordered payments, including, but not limited to, spousal support or child support.
    7. Documentation from a government agency showing receipt of public assistance benefits, including, but not limited to, social security, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, or paid family leave.

  2. A letter from an employer.

  3. An unemployment insurance record. [Tenant Relief Act, Code of Civil Procedure Section 1179.02.5(c).]

If the tenant has failed to pay part or all of rent that was due prior to March 1, 2020, or after June 30, 2020, the tenant is not protected by the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act and the landlord may proceed with an eviction notice and/or unlawful detainer action.

You will need to sign and date a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress under penalty of perjury and return it to your landlord within 15 days from the date your landlord gives you a notice demanding payment of rent and an unsigned Declaration form. The 15-day time limit to return the Declaration does not include weekends or holidays. (See above regarding how to calculate the 15-day time limit). Other than the Declaration, you do not need to provide evidence of your financial distress unless you are a high-income tenant and the landlord gives you the notice intended for high-income tenants, which asks the high-income tenant to provide the landlord with documentation of the tenant’s financial distress.

If your landlord gives you the required notice demanding payment of rent and a form Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress, you must pay an amount that equals at least 25% of each rental payment that came due or will come due during the period between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, that you were unable to pay as a result of decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19. You must also sign and date the Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress and return it to the landlord within 15 days (weekends and holidays excluded). You will have until June 30, 2020 to pay your landlord an amount equal to 25 percent of all the rental payments due from September 2020 through June 2021. If you comply with these requirements, your landlord cannot evict you.

Yes. If the tenant provided you with a signed Declaration of COVD-19-related financial distress, and the tenant has not paid all of the rent, you have the option to file on or after August 1, 2021 an action in small claims court to recover the unpaid rent, even if the amount of unpaid rent exceeds $5,000. [Code of Civil Procedure Sections 116.223(b).]

The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act does not prevent a landlord from filing an unlawful detainer action to evict a tenant who poses a public health and/or safety threat to other tenants, but the landlord cannot use the allegation of a public health and/or safety threat as a pretext for evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent. [, Code of Civil Procedure 1179.01(d).]

Sometimes a rental unit will be covered by more than one moratorium against evictions. For instance, a rental unit may be subject to two or three different moratoriums, such as a local municipality’s moratorium, the State of California's moratorium, and/or the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control’s moratorium. In cases where two or more moratoriums apply, the moratorium offering the greatest protections to the tenant typically will apply. In California, that means the moratorium adopted by the local municipality or State of California because both typically offer greater protections for tenants than the federal government’s moratorium. For additional guidance, landlords and tenants should contact an attorney, legal aid society, landlord association, or tenant advocacy group. A list of local and statewide resources are available at https://housing.ca.gov/.

Tenants who have questions or need assistance about their legal options if they are unable to pay rent should contact an attorney, legal aid society or tenant advocacy group. A list of local and statewide resources are available at https://housing.ca.gov/resources/tenant.html.