Tenant Protection Information
Tenants in California have certain protections under state law and local laws in some cities and counties and should check with their city or county about eviction protections. The California COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act and the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act protects renters impacted financially as a result of COVID-19 through March 31, 2022. From October 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, the law requires any landlord wanting to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent as a result of COVID-19 hardship to first apply for rental assistance before proceeding with an eviction lawsuit. However, depending on your specific circumstances and where you live, you may have other protections from eviction that apply to you. If you receive an eviction notice from your landlord, you should speak with a lawyer as quickly as possible to find out what rules apply to your specific situation. Go to lawhelpca.org. Rental assistance is available to qualifying tenants who apply by March 31, 2022 and are financially distressed and unable to pay some or all of their rent.
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it hard for many renters to pay their rent because they have lost their jobs, had their work hours reduced, or have had to stay home to care for family members.
Governor Gavin Newsom and the CA Legislature have worked together to pass multiple laws for tenants experiencing COVID-19-related financial distress. The latest is Senate Bill 115, which ensures eligible applicants to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program who apply by March 31, 2022 get help with rent and utilities.
Here is what you need to know:
- The Rent Relief Program pays eligible tenants and landlords a tenant’s past-due rent and utilities going as far back as April 1, 2020.
- The program is free and renters are encouraged to apply as soon as possible if they know they may struggle to cover rent and utilities through March 31, 2022.
- The CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program will continue to help eligible Californians at risk of eviction to apply to receive money for rent and utilities through March 31, 2022. Eviction protections are also through March 31, unless your local city or county has extended protections.
Your landlord must apply for rental assistance by March 31, 2022 before they can try to evict you through the courts for failing to pay your rent.
- Although your landlord may give you a notice to “pay or quit” (which 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) at any time, they will not be able to legally evict you without first applying to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program.
- If you receive a notice to “pay or quit,” it is strongly recommended that you immediately get legal assistance to determine and protect your rights. If your notice to “pay or quit” includes a “Declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress”—and you have been financially impacted by the pandemic—you should sign and return the declaration to your landlord within 15 business days to bolster your protections.
It is very important that you apply for rental assistance by March 31, 2022.
It is also recommended that you notify your landlord once you have applied for rental assistance, as this step can help you in both eviction and rental debt collection lawsuits.
Other Things You Need to Know
- Beginning November 1, 2021, your landlord may sue you for any unpaid rent you owe.
- Existing local government eviction ordinances may remain in place until they expire, but they may not defer rent obligations beyond May 31, 2023.
- 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 Tenant Resources for additional resources.