This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on May 13th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
Oakland, California has an eviction moratorium that prohibits almost all evictions and late fees for rent. It went into effect on March 27, 2020 and is still in effect as of May 2022.
This protection for Oakland will renters will last through the end of Oakland's local emergency order. Check here for updates.
In order to get this protection, tenants are not legally required in Oakland to notify their landlord that they are impacted by COVID-19 or provide them with proof. They are eligbile for eviction protections as long as they have suffered Covid-related hardships.
Oakland tenants have up to 12 months after the local emergency period to pay back their rent, which they did not pay because of Covid-related hardships.
Oakland, CA renters cannot be evicted from their homes during the emergency period, in most cases.
Oakland's eviction moratorium ordinance protects all residential renters from being evicted during the emergency period. This includes if they don't pay their rent.
A landlord can still evict a renter if they pose an imminent threat to the health and safety of others, or if there is an Ellis Act Eviction (like when the landlord is going out of business and removing the units from the rental market).
In most cases, though, the Oakland City Council Eviction Moratorium protects residential renters from eviction. This protection from eviction includes situations when:
After the emergency period ends, the landlord cannot evict a renter for not paying the rent owed during the emergency, if the renter didn't pay because of a COVID-19 related reason.
Renters should keep proof of how COVID-19 has impacted their employment and finances, in case they need to defend themselves from eviction after the emergency period.
Oakland, CA renters still owe rent, though they may be protected from eviction if they do not pay it during the emergency.
Renters will still owe the rent to their landlords, and may have to pay back unpaid rent after the emergency period ends or face consequences.
This includes a possible small action lawsuit in court, where a landlord could sue a renter to recover the back rent owed.
Landlords cannot charge renters late fees for unpaid rent during the emergency period, if the renter didn't pay it because of a COVID-related reason.
Renters who cannot afford to pay their rent during the emergency are not required to notify the landlord in writing. But they should keep records of all communication with their landlord, and might communicate with them about a possible payment plan or other agreements.
Under the Oakland eviction moratorium, tenants who have had Covid-related hardships are protected from eviction.
This includes tenants facing situations like:
Tenants in these situations should keep records of these Covid-related hardships. They may be eligible for protection from eviction under the emergency laws in Oakland.
Your Statewide Protections in California, USA
California has some protections for tenants who were unable to pay their rent between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2022, because of COVID-related financial distress.
Tenants may be protected from eviction if they have applied for California government rental assistance and they are waiting for a decision. If a landlord does try to sue the tenant while they are waiting for the decision, the tenant can tell the court about their application. This is a valid defense to the eviciton lawsuit.
In addition, tenants who couldn't pay rent due to COVID-19 hardships through September 30, 2021 may also be protected from eviction. The missed rent must have occurred between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. The renters must have paid at least 25% of their rent to avoid eviction. They also should have filled in this Declaration form to explain their financial distress and given it to their landlord. Read more about California's protections here.
Many local California cities and counties have implemented such eviction freezes and additional protections for renters. Check here to see if any apply to you.
The protections mean that as of April 2022:
Please check if your local California city or county gives you additional protections from eviction. Over 150 local California governments have issued eviction freezes or other protections.
Yes, California renters still need to pay rent during the emergency. You may have had protections against eviction for rent owed through September 30, 2021.
Many local California cities and counties give additional protections about how long a renter will have to pay back the rent owed, but not all do. Check here to see if your local government has set a special timeline for paying back rent, or if they have rules to protect you from late fees.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
Some California renters still have protections from eviction.
If you have applied for government rental assistance and are waiting for a decision, then your landlord should not bring an eviction lawsuit against you. If they do sue for eviction, you can tell the court that you are waiting on a rental assistance decision.
You may also be protected from eviction for rent or other housing costs that were owed between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. You may be able to defend yourself against an eviction for rent owed from that period.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication). If you request repairs, you must be willing to have the landlord make them.
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.
However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease includes this, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.
Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
You may be able to defend yourself using California's eviction protections.
Eviction cases are being heard in California courts as of Autumn 2021.
Check with the California courts for more updates.
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
You do not have to leave your home yet. Landlords can not legally physically remove you, touch your personal property, change the locks, or cut off your utilities.
In California, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are the California requirements for an eviction notice:
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward.
Be sure to let the local financial help group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.
In California, you have a minimum of 3 days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you.
The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 3 days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In California, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
In California, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction. You will need to submit a proper legal response, not just call the courts or send them a letter. There is a form response available.
If you were served in person, you will have 5 days (not including weekends or holidays) after you receive the Summons and Complaint to get a written response back to the court. If the Summons and Complaint was handed to a member in your household and/or you received in the mail, you have 15 days, starting from the postmark date on the envelope (the first 10 days include weekends and holidays, and the last 5 days do not) to submit your written response. If you do not submit this response by this time frame, you may lose your case and the judge may give the landlord permission to remove you from your home.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
You can come to an agreement, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
Find groups that can help you pay the rent, cover utility costs, and get other housing-related assistance.Find Financial Help
Find help with other problems, like domestic violence, health coverage, food benefits, mental health, and other issues.Find Other Services
State information is taken from these sources:Tenant Together's tracker of Temporary Local Covid-19 Residential Eviction Protections in CaliforniaOakland Eviction Moratorium orderCity of Oakland guide on evictionsTenant Together CA tracker
State information is taken from these sources:Governor's executive orderJudicial Council orderPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerNolo's page of California emergency tenant protectionsGovernor's extension of local moratorium
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