EVICTION PROTECTION UNDER THE COVID-19 TENANT RELIEF ACT
The following is helpful information about renters’ rights and rental assistance.
Am I entitled to protection from eviction under this law?
Yes, if the basis for the eviction is your failure to pay rent owed from March 2020 to June 30, 2021 due to “COVID-19-related financial distress.”
Examples of “COVID-19-related financial distress” include:
- Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- 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;
- Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced your income or increased your expenses.
How do I qualify for this protection?
- For protection from eviction through June 30, 2021, you MUST provide a written declaration to your landlord or property manager each month you are unable to pay rent due to a COVID-19 related loss. You can still send declarations for past months unless you have been served with a Fifteen Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
- Make sure to specify the month covered by the declaration; keep a copy of the declaration; and keep proof that the declaration was submitted (e.g., certified mail or email).
- For protection from eviction at any time on the basis of unpaid rent for the time period from September 2020 through June 30, 2021, you MUST also pay the landlord 25% of the total rent due for the period on or before June 30, 2021.
- Make sure to specify the rental period that the 25% payment covers (e.g., “25% for February 2021”); keep proof that you paid the rent (e.g., rent receipt); and keep proof that payment was made (e.g., certified mail).
- Note that the remaining unpaid 75% of the rent owed for those months will remain collectible by the landlord through a small claims court proceeding starting August 1, 2021, unless the landlord receives funding for those months through the State Rental Assistance Program as described below.
What if I cannot afford to pay 25% of the total rent due for the period from September 2020 through June 2021 required to qualify for eviction protection?
The State Rental Assistance Program provides the following two options for rental assistance for rent owed from April 2020 through March 31, 2021:
- OPTION 1 — This option requires your landlord’s participation in the program. The program allows your landlord to apply for funds to compensate it for 80% of unpaid rent from April 2020 through March 31, 2021. If your landlord receives this funding, the amount of unpaid rent you owe for this time period will be deemed paid in full.
- OPTION 2 — If your landlord does not participate in the program, then you may apply directly to the program and can receive 25% of the rent owed from April 2020 to March 31, 2021 to pay your landlord.
What kind of rental assistance is available if you cannot afford to pay rent that will be due for the period from April 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021?
You may apply directly to the program for funds to cover 25% of the rent for the months of April, May, and June of 2021, but it will be subject to funding availability. Funding for payment of rent from April 2020 to March 2021 due will be given priority.
What do I need to know about applying for direct rental assistance?
All tenants may apply regardless of immigration status. Tenants who have a household income that is not more than 80% of the area median income will be given priority.
You will need to show proof of loss of income due to COVID-19, which may include any of the following:
- A letter of termination from your job
- Your most recent pay stub with employer’s information
- Documentation showing that you have applied for unemployment benefits
- Documentation showing that your unemployment benefits have expired, including unemployment benefits provided through the CARES Act
- For those self-employed: tax records, income statements, or other documentation showing loss of income
- Other items will be considered
Where can I get more information about the State Rental Assistance Program?
Call 833-422-4255 or visit https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/ for more information on the California rental assistance program. The state program is already accepting applications. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible while funding is available.
Apply for city-specific rental relief programs in California at the following links:
City of LA: https://hcidla.lacity.org (Applications will be accepted starting March 30, 2021)
City of Riverside: https://www.riversideca.gov/homelesssolutions/housing-authority/riverside-rental-assistance-program (Application can be submitted now)
City of San Bernardino:
http://sbcity.org/cityhall/community_n_economic_development/housing/eviction_prevention_program_.asp (Application can be submitted now)
What are my obligations for the payment of rent after June 30, 2021?
- For protection from eviction, you are responsible for payment of 100% of your rent starting July 1, 2021.
- The balance of the unpaid rent due to COVID-19-related financial distress is still owed. The law permits a claim for the unpaid rent to be brought in small claims court beginning August 1, 2021, even if the amount owed would otherwise be more than current small claims court limits.