Coronavirus - Housing

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Housing

*This page was updated on May 18, 2020

** View a webinar on eviction protections in California

COVID - 19: California Tenant Protections

Information provided by: Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability Western Center on Law & Poverty, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Public Advocates Making Rights Real, Legal Services of Northern California

Currently, there is no statewide eviction moratorium. The best way to protect yourself is to pay rent on time if you are able to do so. 

What can you do?

  1. ​If you cannot pay your rent due to COVID-19, notify your landlord in writing before rent is due. If not, notify your landlord within 7 days
  2. ​Organize, keep and take pictures of all documents related to COVID-19 loss of income. This includes: 
    • Pay stubs
    • Bank statements
    • Notes from your employer
    • Notice of school closure
  3. Even if you notify your landlord, you may still receive an eviction notice. If you do, you should seek legal support as soon as possible 
  4. More information here: https://lawhelpca.org
  5. Find out if your city or county has special rules or resources here: https://antievictionmappingproject.github.io/covid-19-map/
  6. You may be eligible for a 120-day moratorium on non-payment evictions for federally subsidized housing. 
  7. For more information: https://www.novoco.com/notes-from-novogradac/cares-act-contains-120-day-moratorium-evictions-affordable-rental-housing

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Know Your Legal Rights

Housing Protections Related to COVID-19

A lot of people are talking about evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are wondering what the governor said about evictions. Others want to know if they can be evicted right now. In this fact sheet, we will talk evictions.

State Protections

On March 16 2020, Governor Newsom said that local governments may stop evictions related to COVID-19. On March 27, 2020, he ordered for some evictions to be delayed, but he did not stop all evictions.

Most of the time, when a landlord files a lawsuit against a tenant for eviction, the tenant is served with a summons and complaint. After the tenant is served, the tenant has 5 court days to respond by filing an Answer. If the tenant does not respond, the landlord can ask the court clerk to enter a default judgment – a judgment without the tenant ever going to court. If the tenant did not in fact file a response, the court clerk must enter a default judgment against a tenant, which leads to eviction.

In his Order, Governor Newsom gave tenants 60 days to respond to the complaint. But the extension only applies if the landlord is trying to evict a tenant for not paying rent AND the tenant meets all of the following conditions:

  1. The tenant was unable to pay rent for reasons related to COVID-19; and
  2. The tenant notifies the landlord in writing of inability to pay rent before the rent is due or within 7 days of the rent being due; and
  3. The tenant has documentation proving that the tenant cannot pay rent due to COVID-19.

Under the Governor’s order a tenant must still pay back any rent owed. But, the order does not say that the landlord has to accept back rent. And, the order does not stop the landlord from going ahead with the eviction after the delayed period.

This order will be valid until May 31, 2020 and can be found here: https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.27.20-EO-N-37-20.pdf

For additional information, please click the following link:

Updated Analysis of Eviction EO WCLP CRLAF DRC

Sheriff Lockouts

If you already have a judgment against you, you may still be locked out of your house if the local sheriff is continuing to enforce evictions. Check with your local sheriff’s office to see if they are still enforcing evictions.

Judicial Council Protections

Although Governor Newsom’s Executive Order only delays evictions for nonpayment of rent cases related to COVID-19, the Judicial Council’s emergency court rule has broader protections. The rule:

  • Stops a court from issuing a summons after a landlord files for eviction, unless issuing the summons is necessary to protect public health and safety.
    • This means that, even if a landlord files for eviction, most tenants will not have to respond to the complaint until the emergency period ends.
    • But if a court finds that the eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety, the court will issue the summons during the emergency period and a tenant will have to respond after being served with the summons and complaint.
  • Stops a court from entering a default judgment against a tenant because the tenant did not respond to the complaint, unless the court finds that:
    • The eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety; and
    • The tenant did not respond in the time required by law, including any additional time that may apply due to Governor Newsom’s orders to delay evictions.

The rule also delays trials in eviction cases. For example:

  • If the tenant has responded to the complaint or appeared in the case, the rule stops a court from scheduling a case for trial earlier than 60 days after the landlord requests a trial date, unless the court finds that scheduling a trial date earlier is necessary to protect public health and safety.
  • If the trial date was already scheduled as of April, the rule requires that the trial date be postponed until at least 60 days after the first trial date.

For additional information, including information on judicial foreclosures, please click the following links:

Emergency Rule on Evictions and Foreclosures Summary - Updated 4.13.20 (pdf)

SPAN Emergency Rule on Evictions and Foreclosures Summary updated 4.13 (pdf)

Disability-related Protections

Tenants with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations when such accommodations may be necessary to afford them with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Reasonable accommodations are changes in rules, policies, or practices.

Below are two samples that may be helpful in requesting reasonable accommodations during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example:

If a landlord has issued a tenant a notice to vacate, the tenant may use the following template to request that he/she/they be allowed to remain in the unit as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities:

2020.4.21. NLG RA Training. Sample RA Template (pdf)

If a tenant requires an emotional support animal, the tenant may request that the landlord allow the tenant’s emotional support animal to live in the unit as an accommodation for his/her/their disabilities:

2020.4.21. NLG RA Training. Sample RA Template for ESA (pdf)

Local Protections

This is important: There is no blanket moratorium on evictions. Some evictions are still happening. If you have an eviction case right now, you need to call the courts immediately to find out what to do to protect yourself.

The Governor’s Executive Order and the Judicial Council’s emergency court rule apply statewide, but many cities and counties have their own order telling residents how evictions work right now. You should check your city or county’s order to find out more.

Every city is different. Some do not have an order of their own. Some city orders provide less protection than the state orders, and some provide more.

It is important to review any local order that may be in place for your city or county. Here are questions to consider when looking at a local order:

  1. Does the order protect renters from evictions?
  2. Are there other protections like a rent increase cap or ban on utility shut offs?
  3. Do you have to meet conditions for that protection? For example, are protections limited to circumstances:
    1. Where household income substantially decreased because you were laid off as a result of COVID-19, or
    2. Where you have substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or
    3. Where you have extraordinary childcare needs due to the pandemic?
  4. Do you need evidence to qualify for the protections? This may include pay stubs, letters from an employer, or records of medical expenses.
  5. How long do the protections last? Do they end as soon as the Stay At Home Order is lifted? Do they last for a period after that?
  6. Do the orders give tenants a set amount of time to pay back rent?

New orders come out every day. Check with your city or county for the most up to date information.

For more information, please visit the following links: