TENANT PROTECTIONS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Since the beginning of this worldwide pandemic due to Covid-19, there have been many groups of people have been given additional protections and resources. Several bills and legislation were passed in order to assist people that were in dire need. One of these groups of people has been residential tenants. Thus, the Covid-19 Tenant Relief act was passed.

SB91 (aka The Covid-19 Tenant Relief Act was enacted into law on January 29, 2021, and it is an act to extend eviction protections for tenants that were impacted during this pandemic. Originally, the relief for tenants was set to expire on February 1, 2021. Now, with this new act, if you are unable to pay portions of rent through September 30, 2021, you have options.

One of the most important pieces of this act is that as long as you pay 25% of your required rent for the period of September 1, 20201, to September 30, 2021, you can avoid an eviction (i.e. unlawful detainer) filed to kick you out of the unit on October 1, 2021. Tenants can do this by just simply paying 25% of the required rent each month----or paying it in a lump sum payment prior to the above deadline. The tenant must also confirm that he/she is unable to pay such rent due to impacts of Covid-19 hardship.

Financial distress from the Covid-19 Pandemic could come in various different scenarios. A person could have lost their income as a result of Covid-19; possibly an increase in monthly expenditures with a direct relation to doing essential work during the pandemic or for health-related reasons; an uptick in childcare, helping sick, elderly, or disabled family members directly connected to the pandemic;

Also, it should be noted that the dates of the rent that has been missed is very important. If a tenant fails their obligation to pay rent that was required for a date prior to March 1, 2020, they are not protected under this Act. For example, let’s say you rent an apartment and missed rents that were due on January 31, 2020, and February 28, 2020. That landlord would be able to evict you since the dates of missed payments are prior to March 1, 2020.

It is also important that a tenant knows what they need to do if they have been impacted during the correct periods. Just being effected by Covid-19 is not enough. Let’s assume you had missed rental payments for the period of January and February 2021. On March 1, 2021, your landlord notices you of this failure. From that date, you are given 15 days to return to the landlord a Declaration of Covid 19 distress letter, signed under penalty of perjury. Now your landlord is on notice of your situation and if all other requirements are satisfied, they would not be able to evict you.

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