New Laws Apply to Eviction Cases

State laws on eviction cases were amended in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide protections for residential tenants. The law currently provides protections for renters who are given an eviction notice because they are unable to pay their rent or other charges between March 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021, due to COVID-19-related financial distress. It also provides that, for that same period, any other evictions of residential tenants must be based on just cause. In addition, the state now has a rental assistance program in place to pay landlords the rent due during that period and beyond for tenants who qualify for the assistance. 

The state legislation that has put these protections in place is described below. There are also federal protections described below, which are in effect through July 31, 2021.

Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, it is important to get help to understand your rights and responsibilities under these new laws and ordinances.

Are you a tenant looking for more information? Jump to Help and Resources for Tenants

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California's Tenant, Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 (AB 3088)

On August 31, 2020, California adopted legislation (AB 3088) to protect tenants and small landlords from the financial distress caused by COVID-19 pandemic effects. It includes the COVID-19 Tenants Relief Act of 2020, which provided tenant protections through January 31, 2021. Under AB 3088, landlords could begin filing certain eviction actions for failure to pay rent or other charges as of October 5, 2020, but were prohibited, through January 31, 2021, from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent who have delivered to their landlord a declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress within 15-days after being served with a notice to quit by the landlord. And they could not evict them for that debt after that date if they paid 25% of any rent due from September 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021 by the last day of that period.

COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act (SB 91, 2020 Budget Act)

On January 29, 2021, the Governor signed a bill that extends the protections in AB 3088 through June 30, 2021 and included some additional protections. Under this bill, landlords could not evict tenants for nonpayment of rent before June 30, 2021 if those tenants delivered to their landlord a declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress within 15 days of being served with a notice to quit. The time in which tenants would be required to pay 25% of the total amount of rent due after September 1, 2020 was also extended to June 30, 2021. Senate Bill 91 also established a new emergency rental assistance program to help renters who have been impacted by COVID-19, which would pay 80% of the amounts due to landlords of qualified tenants.

COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act (AB 832)

On June 28, 2021, the Governor signed a bill that extends the protections in AB 3088 and SB 91 through September 30, 2021 and includes some additional protections. The time in which landlords may not evict tenants for nonpayment of rent if those tenants have delivered to their landlord a declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress within 15 days of being served with a notice to quit was extended to September 30, 2021. For notices to quit based on rent due between September 1, 2020 and the new end date of the protections, September 30, 2021, tenants’ time to pay the required 25% of the total amount of rent due was extended to September 30, 2021. The provisions regarding the rental assistance program were expanded, to provide that for qualified tenants, 100% of the amounts due to the landlord would be paid.

New in this law also are provisions requiring plaintiffs to actively participate in the rental assistance program before obtaining an unlawful detainer judgment. As of October 1, 2021, in most cases seeking an eviction based on nonpayment of COVID-19 rental debt or of rental debt incurred between October 1, 2021 and March 30, 2022, a court may not issue a summons or enter a judgment until the landlord shows that they have attempted to obtain rental assistance under the state emergency rental assistance program and the application has been denied or the tenant has failed to complete their section.

Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Eviction Moratorium

On September 2, 2020 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a public health order to temporarily stop landlords from taking actions to evict tenants who provide a declaration that they are unable to pay rent and meet certain other requirements. The original order provided such protection to December 30, 2021, but it has been extended several times since then, most recently on June 24, 2021

Under the current CDC order, a tenant who provides this declaration may not be evicted for failure to pay rent through July 31, 2021.

This law may protect tenants who are not covered, for whatever reason, by the state law. It is not yet clear how this law applies to individual cases in California. A court may determine that it does apply, at least for those tenants not protected by state law, so a tenant unable to pay rent may want to provide the landlord with a declaration under the CDC order if they can do so.

New and Revised Forms

Based on state legislation and the extension of federal protections for tenants, the Judicial Council approved one new unlawful detainer form and revised two existing forms, all with an effective date of February 16, 2021. These three forms were again revised and republished on May 24, 2021, in response to public comment:

Help and Resources for Tenants

Help and Resources for Landlords

Note: A notice to quit must have the same language and information as required before the passage of AB 3088, SB 91, and AB 832. Read more about Eviction Notices. In addition to the information normally required on a notice to quit, a notice to quit or pay rent for COVID-19 rental debt must contain specific language regarding the tenant’s rights and responsibilities under the new laws. The text required is in the statute (and on the forms linked below).  If served on or after July 1, 2021, the notice must contain information about the emergency rental assistance program and the extended dates of eviction protection through September 30, 2021. The landlord must also provide with the notice an unsigned declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress.

See Landlord Forms for links to specific language for required notices to tenants.

Help for Small Landlords
California's Tenant, Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 also offers some help to landlords in the form of mortgage forbearance.