COVID-19 Information

Home Evictions in San Francisco Temporarily Stopped

Updated: November 25, 2020

San Francisco’s Mayor ordered a moratorium (a stop) on home evictions.  This means renters who lost income because of the coronavirus must not be evicted.

The eviction moratorium also protects renters against certain other kinds of evictions too – not just evictions due to non-payment of rent or non-payment of a settlement agreement (aka stipulation).

Note: Landlords may still evict for:

  • Violence or threats of violence, and
  • Health and safety concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who does the moratorium protect?

The moratorium protects you if you live in a…

  • Single-family home
  • Apartment rental unit, including:
  • Living with a Section 8 voucher
  • A private MOHCD* or DHSH unit
  • Garage
  • Room rental
  • Illegal unit

The moratorium does NOT protect you if you live in…

  • A rented room in the same unit as your landlord, and you are the only tenant
  • Federally subsidized housing**
  • A hotel, motel, inn, tourist house, rooming or boarding house, unless you have lived there for at least 32 days in a row
  • A hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, or asylum
  • A residential care or adult day health care facility for the elderly
  • A school or college dorm
  • A unit in a non-profit cooperative

**If you live in federally subsidized housing other COVID-related protections apply. Contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative if you have received:

  1. A summons and complaint,
  2. A notice claiming you are a threat to public safety (e.g. violence and/or threats of violence towards other renters, or other health and safety concerns)

* Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development
Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing

Questions about your unit?

When does the moratorium end?

The moratorium on nonpayment evictions related to COVID financial impact runs through February 1, 2021.

For nonpayment evictions not related to COVID, the moratorium runs through December 31, 2020.

For all other types of evictions except nuisance cases and Ellis Act evictions, there is a local moratorium through March 31, 2021.

I live in a garage, an illegal rental unit, or rent a room. Does the moratorium protect me?

Yes. The moratorium covers garages, room rentals, and illegal units.

Note: Landlords may still evict for other reasons, such as:

  • Violence or threats of violence
  • Health and safety concerns

I rent a room at my landlord’s home. I am the only tenant. Am I protected?

The moratorium may not cover you. That’s because you are technically a lodger, and not a renter.

But the landlord may not be able to evict you because the court has postponed all eviction cases for 90 days, or until after June 22, 2020.

Exception: The court will consider eviction cases related to health and safety.

I am undocumented. Does the moratorium protect me?

Yes. The moratorium is not about your immigration status. It is about the type of unit you live in. If you live in a unit covered by the Rent Ordinance or regulated by the MOHCD, you are protected.

I pay rent to a master tenant. Does the moratorium protect me?

Yes.   If you can’t pay your rent, notify the master tenant in the same way you would notify the landlord. See below section on “Special Rules for Renters Who Cannot Afford Their Rent Because of COVID-19”.

I have a Section 8 voucher. Does the Mayor’s order protect me?

Yes. If you can’t pay your rent, notify your landlord as explained below.

I live in federally subsidized housing. Does the mayor’s order protect me?

No. The Mayor’s order does not apply to federally subsidized housing. But the federal government issued its own moratorium to protect you. Starting March 27, 2020, you cannot be evicted from your federally subsidized housing for not paying rent for 120 days.

I got a 60-day notice of “termination of tenancy” before the moratorium because the owner wants to move in or remodel. Do I have to move if there is still a shelter-in-place order?

No. If the deadline on the Notice is within 60 days of the Mayor’s order (i.e. March 23), the moratorium protects you. You do not have to move out yet.

Note: If you would like more information about your specific situation with a 60-day notice, contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative.

Special Rules for Renters Who Cannot Pay Rent

I lost income because of COVID, and now I am behind on my rent. Can I be evicted?

No, your landlord cannot evict you. But you must follow the rules for these time periods:

  • March 1-August 31, 2020
    If you couldn’t pay rent from March-August and you were served a 15-day Notice to Pay or Quit, you were also served a Declaration. To avoid getting evicted, fill out the Declaration and return it to your landlord within the 15-day period.
  • September 1, 2020-January 31, 2021
    Every time your landlord serves you a 15-day Notice to Pay or Quit, you must fill out the attached Declaration, and return it to your landlord.You also must pay 25% of your rent for every month that you cannot afford to pay the full rent. This payment can be made all at once up until January 31, 2021. Include a statement that explains you are paying 25% of the rent, and which months your payment covers and keep a copy.

I still have a job, but my hours are reduced. What should I do if I can’t pay my rent?

(See answer above.)

What if I had to miss work to care for a sick family member?

(See answer above.)

How should I return my Declaration to my landlord?

You can:

  • Deliver it in person if you have your landlord’s address. Your landlord must sign a receipt. (Keep the receipt.)
  • Email it if you have your landlord’s email address. Make a folder on your computer to keep a record of this sent email.
  • Mail it. Before you mail it, take a picture of the Declaration next to the envelope. Also ask the Post Office for proof of mailing.
  • Send it the same way you pay your rent. Keep proof that you have done this.

I am undocumented. Am I protected if I can’t pay my rent because of financial problems caused by COVID?

Yes. AB 3088 and the San Francisco Tenant Protection Act protect all residential tenants, including undocumented renters.

I live in an illegal unit or rent a room in a house. Am I protected if I can’t pay my rent because of financial problems caused by COVID?

Yes. AB 3088 protects all residential tenants, no matter what kind of unit they live in or how long they have lived there.

Can my landlord evict me if I return my Declarations?

Your landlord may not evict you for unpaid rent if you:

  • Return a Declaration each time you are served a 15-day Notice to Pay or Quit, and
  • Pay 25% of your September 2020-January 2021 rent.

Do I have to pay my missed rent payments?

Yes. You still owe unpaid rent. Your landlord can sue you to collect this debt in Small Claims Court, no matter how much you owe.

Does my landlord have to wait to sue me?

If your landlord wants to sue in Small Claims Court, he or she must wait until March 1, 2021 to start the case. But your landlord can start a case in regular civil court at any time.

I signed a payment plan with my landlord in August, 2020. Do I still have to make those payments?

Probably not. The new law (AB 3088) says that any agreement that gives tenants less time to pay than they would have under the new law is not valid. Please get legal advice.

Does the recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Order protect me?

Maybe. The CDC Order:

  • Protects renters from eviction for unpaid rent that was due before March 1, 2020 as well as rent due after March 1, 2020.

Fill out a CDC Declaration. You should send this declaration as soon as you found yourself unable to pay your rent, but you can return it even after an eviction lawsuit has started against you.

  • Protects lower income tenants who lost income or had higher expenses that are not COVID related.

Can my landlord evict me for other reasons during the pandemic, besides not paying?

Yes. Your landlord can evict you if:

  • You are a health or safety risk to others, or
  • Your landlord uses the Ellis Act (120 Notice) to go out of the business of renting.

Can my landlord evict me for a no fault reason during the pandemic in San Francisco?

No. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors extended the moratorium on no fault evictions until March 31, 2021. The only exception is for landlords who want to stop being landlords.

Can my landlord evict me without giving me a reason?

No. AB 3088 says the landlord must have a “just cause” (valid, legal reason) for any eviction until February 2021.

What if I returned my Declarations, but my landlord says I am going to get locked out anyway?

Get legal help. Landlords that try to evict tenants who have given them their COVID Declarations can be charged and fined under state and federal law.

What if I can’t pay my February 2021 rent?

If you don’t pay, your landlord can serve you a Notice to Pay or Quit and start an eviction case against you.
You must pay your full February rent to keep this from happening.

What if I got a 3-day Notice to Pay or Quit between March 1, 2020 and August 2020?

Your landlord must serve you a new 15-day Notice to Pay or Quit. The landlord must include a COVID Declaration with the Notice.

Do I need to attach proof to my COVID Declaration?

No. Unless you are high-income, you do not need to attach proof of your financial problems. “High-income” means a household income of $100,000 or more.
If your landlord has proof that your household is high-income, the landlord can require you to attach proof of financial problems to your COVID Declaration.

What proof do I have to show if the landlord says I am “high-income”?

You can show your landlord any of these:

  • Tax returns or W-2s
  • A written statement from your employer that states your income
  • Pay stubs
  • Unemployment Insurance records
  • Documents showing regular distributions from a trust, annuity, 401K, or pension

Can my landlord share my financial information with anyone?

No. AB 3088 says that the landlord must keep this information private.

Can my landlord charge me late fees?

Maybe. The San Francisco Moratorium says the landlord cannot charge late fees for rent owed from March-September 2020. But AB 3088 allows landlords to sue for late fees in collection cases.

Does the court process eviction cases during Shelter-in-Place?

Yes. Earlier in 2020, the court delayed eviction cases. But now eviction cases are being handled as usual.

Changes at the San Francisco Superior Court

Is the court processing eviction cases during the shelter-in-place?

Yes. The Court resumed processing eviction cases on June 19. Cases filed before April 6 are proceeding in the Court. Cases filed April 6 or after may only go forward if the case is approved by the Court as a “threat to health and safety of others.” (“Exception cases”)

Can landlords file new eviction cases at court?

Technically, yes, but since April 6, a landlord cannot have a summons issued which is necessary to get the case started in the Court. (a tenant must be served both a summons and complaint before he/she has to respond to the lawsuit. The Judicial Council has an Emergency Rule prohibiting the issuance of any summons except in the “Exception cases approved by a Judge” until 90 days after the Governor ends his State of Emergency. Check back here for changes as the landlords have sued the Judicial Council about this rule.

Temporary Rent Increase Freeze

May my landlord increase my rent during shelter in place?

As of July 7th, if you are a tenant whose rent is controlled under the rent ordinance, (generally, buildings built before June 1979 and not subsidized), your landlord cannot increase your rent between April 7 and August 22.

Tenants living in buildings in the MOHCD portfolio have a rent freeze through November 1, 2020.

I received a rent increase notice on March 15 to be effective on April 15, do I have to pay it?

No.  Your landlord has preserved your “annual anniversary date” for future rent increases, but may not impose this increase.

I received a rent increase notice on March 15 to be effective on April 15 and I paid the increase in April, do I get a refund?

Yes.  You should write to your landlord and say there is a temporary freeze on rent increases and that your landlord should refund you the amount you paid that reflected the increase.

Will my landlord be able to go back and capture these increases that couldn’t be imposed during the City’s rent freeze period?

No.  However, your landlord can send you a new rent increase notice to expire after the rent freeze period is over and get their increase for the rest of the year.

Does the freeze apply to increases based on capital improvements passthroughs?

Yes.

Does the freeze apply to increases based on operating and maintenance cost increases?

Yes.

Does the freeze apply to Costa-Hawkins rent increases?

No.

Does the freeze apply to increases based on a Landlord’s 1.21 Petition (not a tenant’s principal place of residence)?

No.

Does the freeze apply to utility passthroughs, bond passthroughs or water bond passthroughs?

Yes.

This information is intended to provide accurate, general information regarding legal rights relating to tenants’ and/or homeless rights in California. Yet because laws and legal procedures are subject to frequent change and differing interpretations, Eviction Defense Collaborative cannot ensure the information in above is current nor be responsible for any use to which it is put. Do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney or the appropriate agency about your rights in your particular situation.

Need Help?

If you get an eviction notice or a summons and complaint for unlawful detainer, contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative right away here, by email, or call (415) 659-9184.

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