This past month brought good news for California tenants. On May 10, Governor Newsom unveiled plans to boost rental assistance from $2.6 billion to $5.2 billion, with the goal of paying landlords 100% of back rent due from tenants suffering a COVID-19 pandemic-related financial hardship. Landlords would no longer be required to waive 20% of their tenants’ back rent to be eligible for rent reimbursement of the remaining 80%, as is currently the case. Governor Newsom has also proposed allocating $2 billion to help tenants pay their utility bills. Lawmakers have until June 15 to negotiate a finalized budget. Additionally, last week San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced that the City’s new emergency rental assistance program would begin accepting applications for distribution of $90 million in rental relief to San Francisco tenants who have suffered a COVID-19 pandemic-related financial hardship.
This good news comes as California’s eviction moratorium is coming to an end. Under legislation passed earlier this year, for rent owed between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, a landlord may serve tenants with a fifteen-day notice to pay or quit for failure to pay rent. However, if the tenant provides a Declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress within fifteen days of receiving the notice, the landlord may not evict the tenant based on failure to pay this rent. Rent owed during this period essentially becomes consumer debt that is still owed to the landlord but that can never be the basis for eviction. The protections for tenants who cannot pay rent from September 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 due to COVID-19 are similar except that to prevent the landlord from evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent on or after July 1, 2021, the tenant must pay twenty-five percent of the rent owed by June 30, 2021. As with rent owed in the summer of 2020, the outstanding rent would remain a debt that could be pursued by the landlord. More details are available on Tenant Law Group’s COVID-19 Resource Page.
Because the patchwork of federal, state, and local regulations protecting tenants can be confusing, tomorrow I will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Tenant Law Group’s Facebook Page from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pacific entitled “Five Things Every California Renter Needs to Know About Pandemic-Related Eviction Protections.” Viewers will have time to ask questions, so feel free to pass this information along to any California renter with questions about COVID-19-related regulations and tenant protections.
For renters who wish to better understand the tenant rights legal terminology, we’ve recently added a Tenant Rights Terminology/Definitions page to the website. We’ve also added pages summarizing California’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, the Oakland Rent Ordinance, the San Jose Rent Ordinance, and the Los Angeles Rent Ordinance.
We are thrilled to announce that on May 26 Lucía D. Castro joined Tenant Law Group as Case Manager. She will be the first point of contact for litigation clients with questions about their case, provide status updates, and work with the litigation team to prosecute client matters. Lucía is studying to become a Certified Legal Translator at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Before joining Tenant Law Group, she worked as a customer service agent and as a Spanish teacher for English-speaking students. She speaks native Spanish, fluent English, and some Japanese.
Finally, Tenant Law Group will continue discounting virtual attorney consultations by $50.00 through June 30, 2021 for tenants throughout California
Thank you for your continued support of Tenant Law Group. If you or someone you know has been illegally displaced from a rent-controlled apartment; suffered discrimination or harassment in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, genetic information, medical condition, citizenship, primary language, and/or immigration status; or otherwise been harmed by a landlord’s unlawful actions, please call (415) 915-7445 or follow this link to get started.
Eric L. Toscano
Founder & CEO
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