Your Guide to California COVID-19 Eviction Law
With the end of the statewide eviction moratorium on September 30, housing providers must now serve a new notice when rent is not paid and be prepared for new court procedures for Unlawful Detainer cases. Housing providers are encouraged to apply for Emergency Rental Assistance on behalf of residents who have not applied on their own if they have not done so already. Every effort with regard to rental assistance must be made before the courts will issue a summons in an Unlawful Detainer or a judgement in Small Claims.
SCRHA members may now access the new 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit form for the COVID-19 Recovery Period, Form 404. Because the Unlawful Detainer process that came into effect on October 1 is brand new, members are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney if considering an eviction.
Effective October 1, 2021, under the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act, the content of notices demanding that a residential tenant (including a mobilehome park tenant) either pay COVID-19 recovery period rental debt or vacate the premises (3-Day to Pay or Quit), is altered in the following ways:
- The notice must provide tenants at least 3 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays) to pay the amount due or vacate.
- The notice must include specified language informing the tenant about how to apply for rental assistance, including a telephone number that the tenant may call and a website that the tenant may access in order to start an application for government rental assistance.
- The notice must include the following warning: “DO NOT DELAY! IF YOU DO NOT COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE WITHIN 15 BUSINESS DAYS, YOUR LANDLORD MAY BE ABLE TO SUE TO OBTAIN A COURT ORDER FOR YOUR EVICTION.”
- Requires any landlord who negotiated a rental agreement in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean to provide the tenant with the notice under 11) in that language. Also requires the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency to make available on its website an official translation of the notice into these languages, no later than September 15, 2021.
- Between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, the following procedures should be used for any unlawful detainer action for recovery of residential real property due to nonpayment of rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship:
- No summons may be issued unless a landlord files one of the following:
- A statement, under penalty of perjury, that the landlord completed an application for government rental assistance to cover the amount demanded from the tenants in the case, and that the application was denied; and (2) a copy of the final decision from the pertinent government rental assistance program denying the application.
- A statement, under penalty of perjury, verifying that all of the following are true:
- Before filing the complaint, the landlord submitted a completed application for rental assistance to the pertinent governmental rental assistance program to cover the rental debt demanded from the defendants in the case. A “completed application” is defined under the Health and Safety Code as one in which the applicant has provided all necessary contact information and documentation required for a government rental assistance program to initiate a review of the application for eligibility.
- 20 days have passed since the later of (1) the date the landlord submitted the application or (2) the date the landlord served the tenant with the three-day notice to pay rent or vacate that is the basis of the unlawful detainer case.
- The landlord has not received notice or obtained verification from the pertinent government rental assistance program indicating that the tenant has submitted a completed application for rental assistance to cover the rental debt demanded in the case.
- The landlord has received no communication from the tenant that the tenant has applied for government rental assistance to cover the rental debt demanded in the case.
- A statement, under penalty of perjury, that the rental debt demanded in the complaint accumulated under a tenancy that was initially established on or after October 1, 2021. A summons that issues on a complaint based on this statement is not subject to the requirements of the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act.
- No summons may be issued unless a landlord files one of the following:
- The court may not issue a judgment or default judgment for unlawful detainer unless the court reviews the pleadings and evidence and finds that the requirements were satisfied. In any contested case, the landlord has the burden of proving these requirements were met.
- For rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship that was incurred on or after October 1, 2021, and before March 31, 2022, a landlord must be compensated for all of the unpaid rent demanded in the notice that forms the basis of the complaint.
- For rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship that was incurred on or after September 1, 2020, and before September 30, 2021, a landlord must be provided 25% of the unpaid rent demanded in the notice that forms the basis of the complaint.
- Establishes a process for a tenant to avoid forfeiting their lease or rental agreement. The tenant may initiate this process by submitting verification to the court that a government rental assistance program has approved an application for rental assistance, corresponding to all or part of the rental debt demanded in an unlawful detainer complaint. The verification must be submitted before the property is restored to the landlord. In the case of partial rental assistance, the tenant must make the additional payments necessary to satisfy the full amount of rental debt demanded in the complaint. If, after a hearing, the court determines that the necessary conditions have been met, then it must grant the tenant’s application for relief, set aside any judgment in the case, and dismiss the case.
- Sunsets the provisions of the COVID-19 Rental Housing Recovery Act effective September 30, 2024.
- “Rental debt” means unpaid rent or other unpaid financial obligation of a tenant that has come due.
- “COVID-19 rental debt” means unpaid rent or any other unpaid financial obligation under a tenancy that came due between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021.
- “COVID-19 recovery period rental debt” means rental debt of a tenant that came due between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022.
- “Rental debt that accumulated due to COVID-19 hardship” means COVID-19 rental debt, COVID-19 recovery period rental debt, or a combination of both, if it accumulated during a tenancy initially established before October 1, 2021. For purposes of this definition, a tenancy is deemed to have been initially established when the tenant first lawfully occupied the premises.
- “Government rental assistance program” means any rental assistance program authorized pursuant to the Health and Safety Code provisions that establish the State Rental Assistance Program.
- “Pertinent government rental assistance program” means a government rental assistance program for the city, county, or city and county in which the property at issue is located.
- “Approved application” means an application for rental assistance for which a government rental assistance program has verified the applicant’s eligibility, and the requested funds have been obligated to be paid to the applicant.
- “Final decision” means that a government rental assistance program has made either of the following determinations regarding an application for rental assistance: the application is an approved application, or the application has been denied for any of the following three reasons:
- The tenant is not eligible for government rental assistance.
- The government rental assistance program no longer has sufficient rental assistance funds to approve the application.
- The application remains incomplete for 15 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and other judicial holidays) after the landlord properly completed the portion of the application that was the landlord’s responsibility, due to the tenant’s failure to properly complete the portion of the application that is the tenant’s responsibility.
- The following outcomes are excluded from the definition of “final decision”:
- Rejection of an application as either incomplete or improperly completed by the landlord.
- Notification that an application is temporarily pending further action by the government rental assistance program or the applicant.
- Notification that the landlord applied to the wrong government rental assistance program for the property or rental debt at issue.
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