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.


CA Tenant Relief Act of 2020:

As of September 2nd, the California Judicial Council repealed its statewide moratoria on eviction and foreclosure proceedings, thus allowing many removal cases to resume. However, the Governor signed AB 3088, or the “Tenant Relief Act of 2020,” which created a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent from March 1st, 2020 to January 31st, 2021. 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. If a tenant made more than 130% of area median income prior to the pandemic, then they may need to provide documentation to prove that they’ve experienced a COVID-related financial hardship. Otherwise, they don’t need to provide any such documentation. Note: tenants should submit a signed declaration for each month that they’re unable to pay their full rent.

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 March 1st, 2021, landlords can sue to collect missed rent accrued during that period, but that debt can neither be used to evict the tenant nor harm the tenant’s credit report at any point in the future. For missed rent accrued from September 1st, 2020 to January 31st, 2021, the same rules apply. However, in order to qualify, tenants must pay 25% of what they owe from that 5-month period by the end of January 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 that they owe from that period – which is equivalent to 1.25 month’s worth of rent – in one lump sum between now and the end of January.

You can find a detailed FAQ on AB 3088 here.

CDC Order

On September 1st, 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) until December 31st. 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 AB 3088, which converts missed rent to consumer debt, the CDC order only puts a pause on evictions until January 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 AB 3088 (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 AB 3088, 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 2020. You can read more about the CDC order in English and Spanish.

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. It also issued a moratorium on some no-fault evictions, most rent increases, and late fees until January 31st, 2021. Due to the passage of AB 3088, 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. They can never be evicted for missed rent accrued between September 1st and January 31st, 2021 either, so long as they pay 25% of the total rent owed during that period by the end of January. Note: missed rent isn’t forgiven; for tenants who qualify for protections under AB 3088, landlords will be able to sue to collect missed rent in small claims court starting March 1st, 2021. For tenants who don’t qualify under AB 3088, all missed rent accrued between March 16th and September 30th must be repaid by the end of January 2021. Otherwise, they may face eviction at that time.

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 here.

City: Antioch

Antioch issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31st, 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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 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. That ordinance has now expired, leaving residents covered by the Contra Costa County moratorium, AB 3088, 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 through September. 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. Due to the passage of AB 3088, that repayment period must end by March 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, 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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 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. That ordinance has now expired, leaving residents covered by the Contra Costa County moratorium, AB 3088, 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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 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 the City Council takes further action. 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 before eviction is permitted. Due to the passage of AB 3088, the repayment period can begin no later than March 1st, 2021 and must end by March 31st, 2022. In order to qualify, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 30 days of missed payment.

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. That ordinance has now expired, leaving residents covered by the Contra Costa County moratorium, AB 3088, 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. Due to the passage of AB 3088, the repayment period must start by March 1st, 2021 and end by March 31st, 2022. After 12 months, any remaining missed rent is converted to consumer debt, meaning that a landlord can sue to collect it. However, impacted tenants can never be evicted for their inability to pay rent during the covered period. In order to qualify for these protections, tenants should provide a signed declaration, per AB 3088, within 15 days of receiving an eviction notice. In addition, tenants are advised to pay 25% of the rent owed between September 1st and January 31st, 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. You can find a thorough FAQ here.

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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 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. That ordinance has now expired, leaving residents covered by the Alameda County moratorium, AB 3088, and the CDC order (see above).

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. The City Attorney has so far stated that the qualification and repayment requirements of AB 3088 don’t apply to tenants who are covered by Oakland’s moratorium. However, tenants who don’t live in units covered by the City’s Just Cause law, and thus aren’t covered by Oakland’s moratorium, are now protected under AB 3088. 

You can read thorough FAQ on Oakland’s Eviction Moratorium here:

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 AB 3088, the repayment period must start by March 1st, 2021 and end by March 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, tenants are advised to pay 25% of the rent owed between September 1st and January 31st, 2021, if they’re able. Also per AB 3088, 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. That ordinance has now expired, leaving residents covered by the Alameda County moratorium, AB 3088, 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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 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. That ordinance has now expired, leaving residents covered by the Alameda County moratorium, AB 3088, and the CDC order (see above).

City: Livermore

On May 5th, Livermore amended the residential components of its eviction moratorium to defer to the Alameda County ordinance. Tenants are thus covered by the County moratorium, AB 3088, and the CDC order (see above).

City: Newark

Newark issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31, 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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 1st, 2021. In order to qualify, tenants must notify their landlord of their inability to pay within 7 days of missed payment.

City: San Leandro

San Leandro issued a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent until May 31, 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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 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, 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 AB 3088, that repayment period can begin no later than March 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. 


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, when California declared a state of emergency. In other words, if a tenant or homeowner has had trouble paying their bills since March 4th, 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 provides $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 includes a moratorium on foreclosures (extended until December 31st) 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. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 disease.


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 with a link to the city policy, and we will update our resources. 

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.