New Ordinance Amendments Providing Eviction Protections for Non-Payment of Rent During COVID-19

Background: The Mayor’s Temporary Eviction Moratorium

 

On March 13, 2020 and thereafter, the Mayor of San Francisco issued Executive Orders that created new eviction protections for residential tenants who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 (known as “the Temporary Eviction Moratorium”).

 

The new eviction protections include a rent payment extension, which provide that no tenant can be evicted for a missed rent payment that became due during the Temporary Eviction Moratorium until six months after the Mayor's Order expires (currently February 28, 2021), provided both (a) and (b) apply:

 

  1. The missed rent payment became due after March 13, 2020, but before the expiration of the temporary Eviction Moratorium (currently August 31, 2020, but may be extended). 

  2. The tenant was unable to pay rent because of documented financial impacts related to COVID-19.
     

New Rent Ordinance Amendments 

 

On July 13, 2020, Rent Ordinance Section 37.9 was amended pursuant to Ord. No. 89-20 to prohibit landlords of residential hotel units (SROs) from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent that was unpaid due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and from imposing late fees, penalties, or similar charges for the missed rent payments. Unlike the Mayor’s Temporary Eviction Moratorium, which only prohibits such evictions through January 31, 2021 (unless extended), this legislation permanently bans certain non-payment of rent evictions (as described further below), even if the rent is not paid after the Temporary Eviction Moratorium period expires.

 

Note that Ord. No 89-20 only provides eviction protections to tenants residing in SRO units, and was superseded and became inoperative on July 27, 2020, due to the enactment of broader legislation described below. 

 

Effective July 27, 2020, Rent Ordinance Section 37.9 was further amended pursuant to Ord. No. 93-20 to prohibit landlords of all units covered by the Rent Ordinance (both SRO units and non-SRO units) from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent that was unpaid due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and from imposing late fees, penalties, or similar charges for such missed rent payments. The amendments provide that no tenant may be evicted for non-payment of rent that became due while the Governor’s Executive Order on evictions is in effect (currently March 16, 2020 through September 30, 2020, unless extended), even if the rent is not paid after the Mayor’s Temporary Eviction Moratorium period expires. In other words, it creates a permanent eviction moratorium for missed rent payments that became due during the Governor’s Executive Order on evictions. The legislation only limits evictions and does not waive the tenant’s obligation to pay the rent. Thus, a landlord may still bring a civil action in court to collect the unpaid rent. 

 

In order for the permanent eviction protections to apply, the tenant’s inability to pay rent must (a) arise out of a substantial decrease in household income (for example, a loss of income caused by layoffs, a reduction in work hours, or substantial out-of-pocket expenses), and (b) be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or by any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19. 

 

In addition, the tenant must keep documentation showing their inability to pay rent was caused by COVID-19. Such documentation may include, but is not limited to, bank statements, pay stubs, employment termination notices, proof of unemployment insurance claim filings, sworn affidavits, or a letter from their employer.