The Temporary Eviction Moratorium

Updated: May 20, 2020

On March 13, 2020, the Mayor of San Francisco issued an Executive Order (“the Mayor’s Order”) that included new eviction rules and protections for tenants unable to pay rent. Under the Mayor’s Order, residential tenants who can demonstrate that they are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to the COVID-19 emergency are eligible to defer rent payments, provided the tenant has followed the procedures described below (see “Rent Payment Extension”).

On March 23, 2020, the Mayor’s Order was expanded to temporarily ban all residential evictions, except for evictions related to violence, threats of violence, health and safety issues, and evictions under the Ellis Act (unless authorized by the Governor or State Legislature).

On April 22, 2020, the Mayor's Order was extended for an additional month, from April 22, 2020 to May 22, 2020.

On April 30, 2020, the Mayor's Order was extended by supplemental declaration from May 22, 2020 to June 30, 2020. The April 30, 2020 supplemental declaration also clarified and revised the "Rent Payment Extension" procedures discussed below. Importantly, the protections of the “Rent Payment Extension” were expanded to include any tenant that is unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19, regardless of whether the tenant provided written notice to the landlord at the time of the missed rent payment.   

Rent Payment Extension

Pursuant to the Mayor's April 30, 2020 supplemental declaration, a landlord cannot evict a residential tenant for a missed rent payment that became due during the COVID-19 emergency until December 30, 2020 or later (six months after the Mayor's Order expires), provided both (a) and (b) apply:

 

  1. The missed rent payment became due after March 13, 2020, but before the expiration of the Mayor’s Order (currently June 30, 2020, but may be extended)

 

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

At the time of the missed rent payment, the tenant should notify the landlord and provide supporting documentation if they are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts of COVID-19. However, failure to provide notice and/or documentation to the landlord does not affect a tenant’s ability to claim the protections of the Rent Payment Extension as a defense to an eviction lawsuit for non-payment of rent. If an eviction lawsuit is filed, the tenant will be required to provide supporting documentation in court, although the court has discretion to waive this requirement in some circumstances.

 

For purposes of the Rent Payment Extension, “financial impacts” means a substantial loss of household income due to business closure, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, layoffs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket expenses. A financial impact is “related to COVID-19” if it was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mayor’s Proclamation, the Local Health Officer’s Declaration of Local Health Emergency, or orders or recommended guidance related to COVID-19 from local, state, or federal authorities. 

 

Landlords and tenants are strongly encouraged to discuss payment plans for the tenant to repay all or a portion of the back rent. However, a payment plan may not shorten the six-month extension period or otherwise require a tenant to waive any of the protections of the Mayor’s Order.

Temporary Eviction Moratorium

The second part of the Mayor’s Order (often referred to as the “eviction moratorium”) temporarily bans all residential evictions if the effective date of the eviction notice would fall within 60 days after the Mayor’s Order expires. As of the date of this publication, the Mayor’s Order is set to expire on June 30, 2020, which means the eviction moratorium is currently effective through August 30, 2020.

The temporary ban does not apply if the basis for the eviction is related to violence, threats of violence, health and safety issues, or the Ellis Act (unless authorized by the Governor or State Legislature). If an eviction notice is served during this time, the landlord must attach the new Rent Board form, titled "Notice to Tenant Regarding the Existence of a Temporary Eviction Moratorium due to COVID-19" to the eviction notice. The form can also be found in the Rent Board’s Forms Center.  

Superior Court Temporarily Suspends All Eviction Lawsuits

On March 18, 2020, the San Francisco Superior Court stayed all actions of unlawful detainer cases (eviction lawsuits) for 90 days, until June 19, 2020, and ordered that the period from March 18, 2020, through June 19, 2020 is deemed a court holiday for purposes of computing time under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1167, except for evictions resulting from violence, threats of violence, or health and safety issues. For updated information, you may refer to the Superior Court’s article titled, “Information Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Court Operation”.