The Temporary Eviction Moratorium

Updated: August 10, 2020

On March 13, 2020, the Mayor of San Francisco issued an Executive Order (“the Eviction Moratorium”) that included new eviction rules and protections for residential tenants who are 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 that become due during the Eviction Moratorium (see “The Rent Payment Extension” below”).

On March 23, 2020, the Mayor issued a new Order that expanded the Eviction Moratorium to temporarily ban all residential evictions, except for evictions related to violence, health and safety issues, and evictions under the Ellis Act (see “Temporary Suspension Of Evictions” below).

On April 22, 2020, April 30, 2020June 26, 2020, and July 27, 2020, the Mayor revised and extended the Eviction Moratorium.

The Rent Payment Extension

Pursuant to the Rent Payment Extension, a landlord cannot evict a residential tenant for a missed rent payment (or late fee) that became due during the 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 Eviction Moratorium (currently August 31, 2020, but may be extended). 

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

“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. 

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 Eviction Moratorium 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.

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 otherwise require a tenant to waive any of the protections of the Mayor’s Order.

For additional information regarding the Rent Payment Extension, please refer to the Rules and Regulations for landlords and tenants published by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

After the 6th Month Extension Period

While the Mayor’s Order provides a six-month extension on rent payments that become due during the Eviction Moratorium, the Rent Ordinance was amended by the Board of Supervisors on July 27, 2020 to provide further eviction protections for tenants. The amendments provide that no tenant may be evicted for non-payment of rent that become 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 six-month extension 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. Note that the legislation only limits a landlord’s ability to evict, and a landlord may still bring a civil action in court to collect the unpaid rent.  

Temporary Suspension of Evictions

The second part of the Mayor’s Order 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 August 31, 2020, which means the eviction moratorium is currently effective through October 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”.