COVID-19 Information for Tenants






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*Updated 6/26/2020

San Francisco Tenants: almost all evictions and rent increases are temporarily banned during the state of emergency. For more information about your protections, including timelines, see our Frequently Asked Questions page or connect to a tenant counseling organization.


IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO PAY YOUR RENT BECAUSE OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS, YOU HAVE UNTIL JANUARY 31 TO PAY YOUR MISSED RENT.

If you missed your rent payment between March 13 and July 31, 2020, and it was due to financial impacts of COVID-19, you have until January 31, 2020 to pay. You cannot be charged late fees or interest on that rent, and you cannot be evicted for it even if you cannot pay it by the deadline.  

It is a good idea, but not required, to provide your landlord written notice and supporting documentation if you cannot pay. Find a sample letter to send to your landlord here (PDF) (DOC).

For more information about what happens if you cannot pay your rent after the 6 months, or for questions about harassment, whether to sign payment plans, and more click here.

 

RENT INCREASES ARE TEMPORARILY BANNED

If you live in a rent-controlled unit, your landlord cannot increase your rent between April 7 and June 23. If you have paid a rent increase that became effective during these dates, you may ask your landlord for a refund. This freeze applies to capital improvements or utilities and bond passthroughs, as well as increases due to increased operating expenses. It does not apply to Costa-Hawkins increases or increases because you lost a 1.21 petition (not your principal place of residence).

If you live in a city-regulated unit. your rent cannot be increased before August 31. In units regulated by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development or the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing your rent cannot be increased until one month after the order expires.

Large rent increases are banned statewide during the state of emergency. Even if you are not covered by one of the above two categories, state law bans rent gouging during a state of emergency.  That means it is illegal for any landlord to charge (or advertise) rents 10% or above what they were charging before February 10, even if you do not have rent control.  It is also illegal for a landlord to evict tenants and then re-rent the vacated unit at a higher rent than what the evicted tenant was paying. Use this Tenants Together sample letter if you received a notice of increase above 10% after the February 10th Declaration of a State of Emergency.

 

OTHER CHANGES IN TENANT PROTECTIONS

Eviction Court: On 4/6/20, the California state Judicial Council adopted an emergency court rule that effectively stops all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of  the COVID‐19 emergency. The rule is applicable to all courts and to all eviction cases, whether they are based on a tenant’s missed rent payment or another reason. This new court rule will apply until 90 day after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID‐19 pandemic, or until it is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council. 

Sheriff Evictions: As of 3/16/2020, the San Francisco Sheriff’s office is not executing eviction orders until further notice.


Public and Affordable Housing: The SF Housing Authority says that they are honoring the local moratorium.  Additionally, the CARES Act is a partial eviction moratorium that applies to most federally-subsidized affordable housing, including (but not limited to) public housing, Section 8, LIHTC, HOPWA, and Section 202 for the elderly, as well as rental properties with federally-backed loans. The CARES Act prohibits eviction filings for non-payment of rent or the charging of late fees between March 27 and July 24, 2020. For more information, see the National Housing Law Project’s detailed summary here or the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s video and page on Protections for Renters. Additionally, HUD has created two guides titled “Addressing Tenant Concerns During the COVID-19 National Emergency,” one for HUD public housing and voucher residents, and one for HUD multifamily residents.

If you are applying for affordable housing in San Francisco, all lotteries will go on as scheduled, but they are now only accepting online applications.  See this page for more information.


Residential Hotels (SROs): The eviction moratorium applies to tenants in SROs, even if they have not gained tenancy yet (i.e., been in their room for 32 consecutive days).  If a tenant has not gained tenancy yet (ie; they had only been in their room for 22 days), they are protected from eviction during the crisis, but when the moratorium is lifted, the clock on their tenancy starts where they left off (ie; at 22 days). Additionally, there are a number of new laws and guidelines specifically aimed at protecting those living in residential hotels right now. For a resource guide created by the Mission SRO Collaborative for SRO tenants, click here.

One emergency ordinance requires the city to make private hotel rooms available to SRO residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and establishes a hotline for residents to call with questions about testing, healthcare, and access to hotel rooms. A second emergency ordinance prohibits future evictions for non-payment of rent owed by SRO tenants during the moratorium and establishes a COVID-19 SRO Relief Fund to cover these missed rent payments.

On March 10, the Department of Public health ordered that residential hotels are required to clean all common areas and frequently touched surfaces at least once per day and more as needed. The minimum cleaning standards can be found here.

 

Tourist Hotels: Those staying in a tourist hotel or tourist unit of a residential hotel are not covered by the residential eviction moratorium, but are protected by an April 14 executive order that prohibits removing guests who want to shelter in place during the current public health emergency. Guests must continue to pay for the hotel room and inform the hotel that they have either tested positive for or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating or quarantining because of potential exposure to COVID-19. More information can be found here.


Utilities: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission won’t cut-off power and water services due to non-payment right now, and they will waive late fees on overdue payments. Pacific Gas and Electric Company has also suspended service disconnections for non-payment for both residential and commercial customers and will offer a payment plan to customers who indicate either an impact or hardship as a result of COVID-19.