Rent Relief

Here to Stay

Here to Stay
by Zeph Fishlyn for SFADC 2021

Are you behind on rent? You don’t have to move! There is help available.

Updated July 31, 2023

NOTE: Our remaining local COVID eviction protections expire August 29, 2023, but you still have rights! Eviction is always a legal process. There are free tenant rights clinics across the city here to help, and all San Francisco tenants facing an eviction are entitled to free legal representation.

If you receive any eviction papers (documents that contain words like “summons” or “complaint” or “unlawful detainer”), please contact legal@evictiondefense.org or 415-659-9184 as soon as possible, or visit the Eviction Defense Collaborative in-person at 976 Mission Street. Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10-11:30AM and 1-2:30PM.

For help paying back rent, visit sferap.com. Learn more about eligibility requirements by visiting sf.gov/renthelp or read our Frequently Asked Questions below.


To prepare for the end of temporary pandemic tenant protections on August 29th, SF tenants struggling to pay rent should note the following changes in the eviction process:

For rent that came due before August 29th:

  • Landlords cannot impose late fees for non-payment due to pandemic-related hardship.
  • Tenants served with eviction papers for non-payment can use pandemic-related financial hardship as a defense against an Unlawful Detainer in court.
  • In court, tenants must show that the debt is due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing documentation such as:
    • bank statements
    • employment termination notices
    • medical bills
    • unemployment insurance filings
    • childcare or eldercare bills
    • roommate move-out notices

For rent that comes due after August 29th:

  • Landlords may resume imposing late fees for non-payment, if this is part of the lease agreement.
  • Tenants will no longer be able to use pandemic-related hardship as a legal defense against eviction for non-payment.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may be eligible for help from SF ERAP if you are a San Francisco resident, have a household income that is at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) and you can demonstrate risk of homelessness or housing loss as a result of financial hardship, such as loss of income. Assistance is available regardless of immigration status and will not be considered for public charge.

SF ERAP can generally help with back rent, limited future rent, and security deposit and/or first and last months’ rent for a unit you are planning to move into. Certain subsidized housing types are not eligible for future rent or move-in assistance.

The last day to apply to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program was March 31, 2022.  If you applied by March 31, your application will be processed by the State of California and all eligible applicants will receive assistance. You may also file appeals past the March 31 application deadline if you receive a denial from the state program or if you received less than you requested. You can receive status updates for your state program application by calling the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program Call Center at (833) 430-2122.

State law AB 2179 protects you from an eviction for this rent debt while your application is pending.  The court is not supposed to allow an eviction lawsuit to proceed for rent debt from April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2022 unless your landlord can show that you do not have a pending application with the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program or your application was denied. If you have been served with an eviction notice or lawsuit, contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative immediately to help you with the legal process (415-659-9184, legal@evictiondefense.org).

Don’t move out! Evictions are a legal process, and you have rights and access to free help. If your landlord is harassing you, asking you to sign documents, or telling you to move, reach out to a tenant rights group right away.

If you receive any eviction papers (documents that contain words like “summons” or “complaint” or “unlawful detainer”), please contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative as soon as possible. 

Depending on when your rent debt is from, different protections may apply:

  • For rent due March 1 – August 31, 2020: AB 832 prohibits evictions for nonpayment of rent for these months. The landlord cannot evict but can take you to small claims court starting November 1, 2021 for any rent that is still unpaid.  You must provide landlord a signed declaration in response to a 15-day notice. 
  • For rent due September 1, 2020- September 30, 2021: AB-2179 prohibits evictions for nonpayment of rent from this period as long as you give your landlord a signed declaration(s) in response to 15-day notice(s),  AND pay at least 25% of the missed rent from this period by September 30.
  • For rent due July 1, 2022- August 29, 2023: If Landlords seek to evict for non-payment of rent that came due between July 1, 2022 and August 29, 2023, tenants will be able to defend and win if they can present evidence to the court that the rent was not paid due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to our local moratorium

You should apply to the local rent relief program. Bay Legal also offers a Consumer Rent Debt Clinic on the fourth Friday of each month.  RSVP is required: Please call 415-982-1300 to RSVP and get details about the location and time.

 

No.  You will not be asked about immigration status. Help from rent relief programs also does not qualify as a “public charge” that can affect those applying for a green card. Learn more about eligibility for various public programs based on immigration status here.

 

Yes.  If you are separate financial households for other purposes (like filing taxes or applying for other benefits), then you can apply separately for rent relief as well.

You can apply and be eligible for rental assistance regardless of whether your housing was built with permits.  The information you provide will not be used for other purposes.

Yes. However, eligibility rules and requirements vary among different subsidized and

affordable housing programs. Contact an SF ERAP case manager or visit SFERAP’s website for more information. SF ERAP Helpline – (415) 653-5744 or help@sferap.org