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Evictions and Tenants’ Rights During Quarantine

The biggest question tenants have during the COVID-19 quarantine is, “What do I do if I cannot afford the rent?” The State of California recently enacted a moratorium preventing landlords from filing evictions based on nonpayment of rent. That means, if you cannot pay your rent at this time, the landlord will not be able to file an eviction lawsuit against you until the quarantine is lifted. With that said, landlords are still able to file evictions to protect public safety and health. Examples of this would be permitting a nuisance to exist in the unit, i.e., illegal activity, fire hazards, or other dangerous conditions

This rule preventing new eviction filings for nonpayment of rent will remain in effect until 90 days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ends the state of emergency related to COVID-19 or until otherwise amended by the California Judicial Council.

Some landlords are asking their tenants to enter into agreements concerning deferment or forbearance of rent. Tenants do NOT need to sign these agreements. The situation concerning tenant relief is rapidly changing. At this time, we do not know what other relief packages the State of California may provide, so there is no reason to agree to anything now which may abridge your rights in the future.

All pending eviction trial dates were continued at least 60 days. Also, keep in mind many cities have passed separate ordinances, which may provide additional rights or benefits to tenants. In addition to these state protections, tenants should contact their local rent board to find the most recent rules.

If you can pay the rent, you should probably do so – especially if you have a long-term rent-controlled tenancy. Usually, if you do not pay rent, the landlord sends you a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. If you do not pay in that time frame, the landlord can file an eviction on day four (4). Even if you come up with the money after that, the landlord does not have to accept the rent thereafter and can proceed with the eviction. If you have a 20-year tenancy, don’t pay the rent during the quarantine, and let a 3-day notice expire, it is unclear whether you will be able to pay the back rent and keep your tenancy intact. The safest course of action is, if you are able, to pay the rent and avoid the legal dispute down the road.

Please contact us at(415) 835-6777 or contact us online for a free consultation with our Bay Area tenant lawyers if you have questions concerning your tenancy. With an office location in San Francisco, we represent clients throughout the region, including in Daly City, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose.

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