COVID19: Housing Policy

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Tenants in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties are now protected against many evictions by a patchwork of city, county, state, and federal laws. These laws are complex, layered, and subject to legal interpretation and debate. The rights of individual tenants can vary significantly from city to city, unit to unit, and case to case. Therefore, the information below should be considered as a general outline of existing protections. Whenever possible, tenants should seek legal advice to understand their rights and responsibilities given their specific city and circumstances.


California: COVID-19 Relief Act of 2021 (SB 91):
In January, Governor Newsom signed SB 91, or the “COVID-19 Relief Act of 2021,” which extended the statewide moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 (AB 3088) until June 30th, 2021. The main elements of SB 91 remain the same as AB 3088.

In order to qualify for these protections, a tenant who receives an eviction notice for non-payment of rent must use the form provided to declare under penalty of perjury that they were unable to pay due to COVID-19 within 15 business days. Note: tenants should submit a signed declaration for each month that they’re unable to pay their full rent. You can find a sample declaration here.

The law doesn’t forgive or cancel missed rent. However, for tenants who qualify, it converts all missed rent accrued from March 1st to August 31st, 2020 to consumer debt. This means that, starting August 1st, 2021, landlords can sue to collect missed rent accrued during that period, but that debt can’t be used to evict the tenant, harm their credit report, or deny them housing at any point in the future.

For missed rent accrued from September 1st, 2020 to June 30th, 2021, the same rules apply. However, in order to qualify, tenants must pay 25% of what they owe from that 10-month period by the end of June 2021. Impacted tenants don’t need to pay a quarter of their rent each month; instead, they can pay a quarter of the total amount due in that period in one lump sum by the end of June 2021. During that time, landlords are prohibited from charging late fees on COVID-related rental debt or selling or assigning it to a collection agency.

In addition, SB 91 established a statewide rental assistance program with $1.5 billion from the federal government, which will be used to help low-income tenants pay down their rental debt. This program will pay down 80% of the rental debt accrued between April 1st, 2020 and March 31st, 2021. In exchange, landlords must forgive the remaining 20%, meaning that the tenant will be debt-free.

However, landlords can refuse to participate. In that case, the tenant will receive a direct payment worth 25% of their rental debt, which will help them qualify for long-term eviction protections. Both tenants and landlords may apply for the funds starting in March. The State will then issue money in three rounds until it’s all gone: 1) households making less than 50% AMI; 2) households making less than 80% AMI and located in areas most impacted by COVID-19; and 3) any remaining households making less than 80% AMI.

In the East Bay, Oakland, Fremont, and Alameda and Contra Costa Counties have each received their own resources for rental assistance directly from the federal government, and may choose to create distinct programs that follow different guidelines. We’ll update our “Get Support” page with more details as soon as they’re available.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) Federal Order

On September 1st, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent for all tenants who make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 for joint tax filers). It has since been extended until March 31st, 2021. In order to qualify, tenants must state under penalty of perjury that they’re unable to pay due to loss of income or medical expenses (whether or not the hardship is related to COVID-19); that they’ve exhausted all options for government aid; and that, if evicted, they’d end up homeless or living in overcrowded quarters. In addition, the CDC order may provide protections against other causes of evictions, especially no-fault evictions, with the exception of five specified cases.

Crucially, this order applies to all non-payment evictions, not just those that were filed after March 1st, 2020 and/or were COVID-related. However, unlike SB 91, which converts missed rent to consumer debt, the CDC order only puts a pause on evictions until April 1st, 2021. At that point, tenants who haven’t paid down their outstanding debt can be evicted, unless they’ve qualified for the protections of SB 91 (see above).

The CDC order is meant to be a “floor” that provides a baseline level of protections. While it doesn’t override state or local laws that offer additional protections, including SB 91, it may be able to protect some tenants who’d otherwise fall through the cracks of the moratoria that are in effect here in the East Bay. So tenants who meet the specifications are advised to send their landlords a signed declaration just in case the CDC order could protect them in the event that they’re taken to court. These declarations can be submitted at any time before the end of March 2021. You can read more about the CDC order in English and Spanish.

Finally, the CDC also issued guidelines calling for local governments to cease sweeps of homeless encampments “unless individual housing units are available,” as sweeps have a harmful effect on unhoused people and exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.

You can view a comparison table of all of the following city and county ordinances here.


Eviction Moratoriums

Contra Costa County:

Contra Costa County issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until September 30th, 2020. It also issued a moratorium on some no-fault evictions, most rent increases, and late fees until June 30th, 2021.

Due to the passage of AB 3088 and SB 91, tenants who attest that they couldn’t pay rent due to COVID-19 can never be evicted for missed rent accrued between March 1st and August 31st, 2020. They can never be evicted for missed rent accrued between September 1st, 2020 and June 30th, 2021 either, so long as they pay 25% of the total rent owed during that period by the end of June. Note: missed rent isn’t cancelled or forgiven; for tenants who qualify for protections under AB 3088/SB 91, landlords will be able to sue to collect missed rent in small claims court starting August 1st, 2021.

These protections extend to all cities and unincorporated areas of the County alike. This means that renters in cities that haven’t passed local ordinances, like Walnut Creek, are now protected by the County ordinance. In cities with local ordinances that address the same subject, however, the City’s law prevails on that subject while the County’s law covers any remaining issues. For example, if a City has an eviction moratorium but not a rent freeze, then the County rent freeze will apply.

You can find a detailed FAQ on Contra Costa County’s Eviction Moratorium here.

City: Antioch

Antioch issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31st, 2020, the expiration of the local emergency, or the expiration of the state emergency, whichever is later. For tenants who can demonstrate a loss of income due to COVID-19, the ordinance allows for a 6-month repayment period with no late fees before eviction is permitted. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021. In order to qualify, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 14 days of missed payment.

City: Concord

Concord issued a moratorium on rent increases for most units and a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until September 30th, 2020. That ordinance has expired, leaving residents covered by the Contra Costa County moratorium, AB 3088/SB 91, and the CDC order (see above). For tenants who demonstrated a financial hardship due to COVID-19, the ordinance allows for a 90-day repayment period for each month of rent missed from April 2020 through September 2020. This means that if they were unable to make full rent payments for 3 consecutive months, then they’ll have 270 days (9 months) to pay down the debt starting October 1st, 2020. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period must end by August 31st, 2022. In order to have qualified, tenants must have notified their landlord of their inability to pay at least 7 days before rent was due and provided supporting documentation within 3 days of missing a payment. 

City: El Cerrito

El Cerrito issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until July 28th, 2020, the expiration of the local emergency, or the expiration of the state emergency, whichever is later. For tenants who can demonstrate a loss of income due to COVID-19, the ordinance allows for a 6-month repayment period with no late fees before eviction is permitted. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021. In order to qualify, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 30 days of missed payment.

City: Pinole:

Pinole issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until July 15th, 2020. That ordinance has expired, leaving residents covered by the Contra Costa County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

City: Pittsburg:

Pittsburg issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons during the state of emergency. It also restricted rent increases for most units. For tenants who can demonstrate a loss of income due to COVID-19, the ordinance allows for a 6-month repayment period with no late fees before eviction is permitted. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021. In order to qualify, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 15 days of missed payment.

City: Richmond

Richmond issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons as well as most rent increases until September 30th, 2020. That ordinance has expired, leaving residents covered by the Contra Costa County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

City: San Pablo
San Pablo issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons, with the exception of owner-move-in evictions, and rent increases through July 28th, 2020. That ordinance has expired, leaving residents covered by the Contra Costa County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

Alameda County:

Alameda County issued a moratorium on most all evictions until February 28th, 2021 or 60 days after the expiration of the local health emergency, whichever is later. This applies to tenants and homeowners alike. For tenants who can demonstrate a financial hardship due to COVID-19, the ordinance allows a 12-month repayment period without late fees. In other words, the tenant has 12 months from the date that rent was missed to pay it. For example, rent missed on November 1st, 2020 must be repaid by November 1st, 2021, rent missed on December 1st, 2020 must be repaid by December 1st, 2021, and so on. If the tenant is unable to repay missed rent within 12 months from the time it was due, then the amount is converted to consumer debt. This means that the landlord can sue to collect the remaining amount, but the tenant never be evicted over their inability to pay rent during the covered period. Note: SB 91 appears to have preempted Alameda County’s ordinance on the timeline for repayment. So landlords may be able to sue to collect rental debt starting August 1st, 2021, even if it hasn’t been 12 months since the original rental payment was missed. 

In order to qualify for these protections, tenants should provide a signed declaration, per SB 91, within 15 days of receiving an eviction notice. In addition, tenants are advised to pay 25% of the rent total owed between September 1st, 2020 and June 30th, 2021, if they’re able. However, if they’re forced to choose between paying for rent and paying for essential living supplies, then tenants should choose the necessities. They may still be afforded long-term eviction protections under the County moratorium.

These protections extend to all cities and unincorporated areas of the County alike. This means that renters in cities that have not passed local ordinances, like Dublin, are now protected by the County ordinance. In cities with local ordinances, however, residents are protected by the stronger of the two laws on a provision-by-provision basis.

City: Alameda

Alameda issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent, no-fault evictions, and utility shut-offs until 30 days after the end of the state of emergency. The ordinance also prohibits rent increases for units covered by the city’s rent control or Just Cause ordinances until the end of 2020. For impacted tenants, the ordinance allows for a 6-month repayment period with no late fees before eviction is permitted. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021.

Landlords are also prohibited from shutting off utilities except in the case of an emergency such as an urgent repair to a water line. 

City: Albany

Albany issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until September 30th, 2020. That ordinance has expired, leaving residents covered by the Alameda County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

City: Berkeley

Berkeley issued a moratorium on most all evictions for the duration of the state of emergency. For tenants who can demonstrate a loss of income due to COVID-19, the ordinance allows for a 12-month repayment period with no late fees. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period must start by August 1st, 2021 and end by August 31st, 2022. At that point, tenants can be taken to court to recover missed rent, but they can’t be evicted. Note that, per AB 3088 and SB 91, tenants are advised to pay 25% of the rent owed between September 1st, 2020 and June 30th, 2021, if they’re able. Also per AB 3088/SB 91, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 15 days of missed payment in order to qualify. Finally, the law also allows impacted tenants – including UC Berkeley students and those who live with them – to break a lease early without financial penalties.

City: Emeryville

Emeryville issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons until September 30th, 2020. That ordinance has expired, leaving residents covered by the Alameda County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

City: Fremont

Fremont issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons for the duration of the state of emergency plus 30 days. The order applies to owners and tenants of mobile homes, as well. However, in order to qualify, a tenant must notify their landlord of their inability to pay due to a COVID-related loss of household income within 5 days of receiving a notice of termination. Once the state of emergency ends, tenants will be required to repay any missed rent according to the following timeline: 50% within 90 days and 100% within 180 days. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021. Landlords are prohibited from charging late fees. 

City: Hayward 

Hayward issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent and no-fault reasons until September 30th, 2020. That ordinance has expired, leaving residents covered by the Alameda County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

City: Livermore

On May 5th, 2020 Livermore amended the residential components of its eviction moratorium to defer to the Alameda County ordinance. Tenants are thus covered by the County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

City: Newark

Newark issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31, 2020 the expiration of the local emergency, or the expiration of the state emergency, whichever is later. Tenants will still be required to repay any missed rent according to the following timeline: 25% within 45 days, 50% within 90 days, 75% within 135 days, and 100% within 180 days. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021. In order to qualify, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 7 days of missed payment.

City: Oakland

Oakland issued a moratorium on most all evictions for units covered by the City’s Just Cause ordinance; most rent increases for units subject to rent control; and late fees on missed rents for all units citywide. The moratorium is in effect until the end of the local state of emergency. While missed rent isn’t forgiven, the ordinance prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who couldn’t pay rent during the emergency period. In order to qualify for these protections, tenants should provide a signed declaration, per SB 91, within 15 days of receiving an eviction notice. In addition, tenants are advised to pay 25% of the rent total owed between September 1st, 2020 and June 30th, 2021, if they’re able.

However, if they’re forced to choose between paying for rent and paying for essential living supplies, then tenants should choose the necessities. They may still be afforded long-term eviction protections under Oakland and Alameda County’s laws. Note: while tenants who don’t live in units covered by Oakland’s Just Cause ordinance aren’t covered by Oakland’s moratorium, they’re entitled to protections under the Alameda County moratorium, SB 91, and the CDC order (see above).

Read more about the Oakland Eviction Moratorium, including Spanish and Chinese translations, here.

Image Eviction Moratorium FAW

City: San Leandro

San Leandro issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31, 2020 the expiration of the local emergency, or the expiration of the state emergency, whichever is later. This extends to tenants of mobile homes and RVs, as well. For impacted tenants, the ordinance allows for a 120-day repayment period with no late fees before eviction is permitted. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021. This grace period can be extended to 180 days if needed. In order to qualify for the extension, the tenant must notify their landlord within 10 days of the original 120-day end date. 

City: Union City

Union City issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31, 2020 the expiration of the local emergency, or the expiration of the state emergency, whichever is later. For impacted tenants, the ordinance allows for a 90-day repayment period with no late fees before eviction is permitted. Due to the passage of SB 91, that repayment period can begin no later than August 1st, 2021. In order to qualify, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 10 days of missed payment.

Note: If your city is not listed here, it is because we do not have information on any housing-related decisions your city has made. If you know your city council has made a critical housing policy decision, please email alex@ebho.org and we will update our resources. 

For support getting food, emergency rental or mortgage assistance, and other critical needs, see our COVID19- Get Support pages or our list of ongoing resources in our Resource Guide.


California

Governor Newsom announced that most major banks have agreed to allow residential property owners impacted by COVID-19 to delay mortgage payments for 90 days. However, this relief isn’t automatic. If possible, property owners should contact their mortgage issuer to make sure that they’re covered before missing a payment. Subsequently, the Judicial Council issued a moratorium on all foreclosure-related court activity. But that moratorium ended as of September 2nd, 2020.

The Public Utilities Commission issued an order requiring all privately owned water, sewer, energy, and communications providers to maintain service to all customers, including those struggling to pay their service fees due to the pandemic. In the East Bay, this includes PG&E and telecoms companies like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Comcast. These protections extend back to March 4th, 2020 when California declared a state of emergency. In other words, if a tenant or homeowner has had trouble paying their bills since March 4th, 2020 then these companies aren’t allowed to cut off their service. The East Bay Municipal Utility District has also agreed to suspend service cut offs due to non-payment until further notice. East Bay MUD and PG&E have offered to work with customers to create flexible and extended payment plans, as needed. You can find up-to-date information on the policies of all utilities here.

California Mortgages and Foreclosures & Evictions

Governor Newsom announced that most major banks have agreed to allow residential property owners impacted by COVID-19 to delay mortgage payments for 90 days. However, this relief isn’t automatic. If possible, property owners should contact their mortgage issuer to make sure that they’re covered before missing a payment. Subsequently, the Judicial Council issued a moratorium on all foreclosure-related court activity. But that moratorium ended as of September 2nd, 2020.


United States

On top of the CDC order, the federal CARES Act provided $12 billion in funding for housing and homelessness, including $4 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants for homeless services and rental assistance for deeply low-income people, $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants, $1.25 billion for Section 8 voucher support, and more. You can read a full description here

In addition, the bill included a moratorium on foreclosures (extended until February 28th) for all federally-backed single-family mortgages (1-4 units), including those covered by HUD, USDA, FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. People in economic distress are entitled to a pause on mortgage payments for up to 180 days, with an additional 180 days upon request. If these units are rental properties, then their tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment or charged late fees during that time. Deferred payments won’t be due until the end of the loan term or the home is sold.

Similarly, multifamily housing providers with a federally-backed mortgage are entitled to a pause on mortgage payments for up to 6 months on the condition that they agree not to evict tenants for non-payment or charge late fees for the duration of that time.

Information for Affordable Housing Providers/Services Providers/Non-Profit Developers:

See Allhomeca.gov/covid-19 for a list of resources specific to affordable housing and services providers.


Get Support, Action, & Volunteer Info

See our COVID19 Action Page to learn how you can take action for expanded housing protections and funding & see what changes advocacy groups are currently pushing for.

Do you need housing, food, help getting medication, or other support as you Shelter in Place? See our list of support available during the COVID19 pandemic or our general affordable housing resources page.