Home Evictions in San Francisco Temporarily Stopped
Updated: August 26, 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
- 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:
- A summons and complaint,
- 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 rent moratorium ends September 30, 2020. The moratorium on bringing an eviction action ends 60 days after the rent moratorium ends, so currently until December 1, 2020.
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 Afford Their Rent Because of COVID-19
Will the moratorium cover me if I cannot pay my rent because of the coronavirus?
- your rent became due March 13, 2020 or after, and
- you follow the two step process outlined below
What are the two steps that I must follow if I cannot pay my rent because of the coronavirus?
First: Notify your landlord within 30 days after you missed a rent payment because of coronavirus. You should do this in writing. You can use this sample notice.
Second, within 37 days of the date your unpaid rent was due, you must provide your landlord documentation of your inability to pay.
Am I forbidden from using my inability to pay due to being financially impacted from COVID-19 as a defense in an eviction action if I did not follow the 2 step process?
No. But you should explain in writing to your landlord that you were financially impacted by COVID-19 as soon as you can to help with your defense.
Do I have to give my landlord proof of my financial situation?
No, but it is recommended. You can do this with:
- a letter,
- an email, or
- another written communication that explains how the coronavirus affected your situation
You do not have to, but we recommend you provide proof from other sources, too, such as:
- an employer that cut your hours or laid you off,
- a doctor’s bill or diagnosis,
- unemployment check,
- letter from your childcare provider showing that they have closed, or other record that shows your situation has changed.
What if I cannot pay my rent for more than 1 month?
If you cannot pay your rent because of the coronavirus for more than one month, you must notify your landlord in writing each month you do not pay your rent when it is due. You can use this sample notice. And you must follow the two-step process above every time.
Remember: Your rent is due each month on the date you agreed to pay rent.
Do I have to pay the landlord later for the rent I cannot pay now?
Yes. You still owe all back rent. But you have more time to pay it. Each time you follow the 2 steps above, you automatically get an extra month to pay that rent.
After 30 days, your landlord must work with you to try to set up a payment plan. If you still cannot pay, the landlord must give you 6 months after the Mayor’s order ends to pay the rent owed (i.e. April 1, 2021). After that the landlord can serve you a 3-day notice and file papers to evict you.
The Tenant Protection Legislation goes further and allows the landlord to sue you for the unpaid rent, but not evict you for the unpaid rent during the period April-September. If you are served a 3 day notice for rent during those months after January 30 because you were unable to pay all of the unpaid rent by then, the Tenant Protection Legislation will give you a complete defense to that eviction lawsuit so long as you can prove that the unpaid rent was the result of being financially impacted by COVID-19.
I am a master tenant and my subtenants can't pay their rent. What should I do?
Follow the same 2 steps described above:
- Notify your landlord you cannot pay the rent within 30 days, AND
- Provide documents to prove you (or your subtenants) lost income because of the coronavirus within 7 days after you notify the landlord.
You may have to ask your subtenants to provide documents that prove their income loss.
I can't pay my April rent because I lost my job. My landlord says I have to cash out my 401K plan. Do I have to?
No. You do not have to cash out your retirement plan. Follow the same 2 steps listed above:
- Notify your landlord you cannot pay the rent within 30 days, AND
Provide documents to prove you lost income because of the coronavirus within 7 days after you notify the landlord.
My rent was due before March 13, 2020. Does the moratorium protect me if I missed that payment?
No. As of right now, the moratorium only applies to rent due between March 13, 2020 and the end of the moratorium order.
Do I have to pay a late fee?
Not for unpaid rent during the moratorium.
I told my landlord I would move out, but now there is a shelter-in-place order. What should I do?
Talk to a lawyer or legal services agency as soon as possible. The shelter-in-place order may have postponed your legal deadline to move out.
I could not pay last month’s rent. My landlord wants to set up a payment plan. Should I sign the plan?
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?
Does the freeze apply to increases based on operating and maintenance cost increases?
Does the freeze apply to Costa-Hawkins rent increases?
Does the freeze apply to increases based on a Landlord’s 1.21 Petition (not a tenant’s principal place of residence)?
Does the freeze apply to utility passthroughs, bond passthroughs or water bond passthroughs?
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.