COVID-19 And Eviction

If you are frightened and anxious about being evicted due to loss of your job or regular income you are not alone. Millions around the world are facing the same challenges. Loss of work hours and wages, self-quarantine and self-isolation are preventing many California tenants from paying for their rent and utilities.

If You Can’t Pay Your Rent

On March 27, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an updated executive order regarding evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order is in place until May 31, 2020.  A process is available to extend occupancy month-by-month if you are financially impacted by the pandemic. Rent extensions do not apply to tenants who cannot prove financial impact due to COVID-19. Landlords may continue with eviction activities in many cases and for many non-COVID-related situations.

The pace of the pandemic is creating unprecedented urgency and mounting confusion for tenants facing loss of income. Local rules for rent extensions may vary from statewide guidelines. The guidelines for rent are challenging if you are unaware of documentation requirements and timelines.

We urge you contact a tenant attorney or tenant-advocate organization as soon as possible to clarify your situation and start the tasks necessary for successful rent extension. We are here to help.

What San Francisco Tenants Need to Know Right Now

On March 23, 2020 Mayor Breed issued an updated order banning eviction for renters affected by COVID-19 when a tenant has missed a rent payment due on or after March 13, 2020. The rent payment extension will last until June 21, 2020 or until extended further by the mayor.

Do You Qualify for COVID-19 Rent Extension?

  • If you are impacted by a substantial decrease in household income due to job loss, reduction of hours, or a substantial decrease in business income or substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses, you probably qualify.
  • If your loss of income and/or out-of-pocket medical expenses are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or by rules created by local, state or the federal government responding to COVID-19. Rules such as a requirement to remain at home, preventing you from earning income means you probably qualify.

The protections allowed are a temporary reprieve from eviction, not forgiveness from the obligation to catch up with your rent eventually. If you are currently being evicted for late or no rent payment and you are also impacted financially by COVID-19, you should seek a tenant attorney’s assistance immediately.

3 Steps to Qualify For and Protect Your Rent Extension

Before taking the steps, determine the date of your first missed rent payment. You are most likely eligible for the rent extension if your rental payment was due on or after March 13, 2020, and you are impacted financially by COVID-19.

  • You must notify your landlord in writing describing the impact of COVID-19 on your inability to pay rent within 30 days of when it is due. You must do this each time you miss a scheduled payment. Avoid waiting for a late notice.
  • Within 7 days of notifying your landlord you are unable to pay rent, you must provide additional documentation to your landlord of your COVID-19 related financial impact (severance document, “final employment” papers, medical receipts showing COVID-19 related expenses, cost of caretaking demands etc).
  • After following the first two steps, a month-by-extension plan kicks in. No late charges, interest or fees may be added. Tenants will have up to six months to catch up with rent payments.

Sample Letter to Your Landlord

There are San Francisco resources to help you inform your landlord of your rent extension request. Check these links for sample letters to your landlord:

Sample letter to Landlord in English and Spanish

Sample letter to Landlord in Chinese

If you need assistance avoiding eviction and navigating a rent extension, call a tenant attorney today. Know your rights. Protect yourself.

Additional COVID-19 Tenant Resources Compiled by Tenants Together


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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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