COVID-19 Consumer Information and Resources

On March 4, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In order to protect California consumers during this time, Attorney General Xavier Becerra has made the following tips and resources available.

Price Gouging

Attorney General Becerra reminds all Californians that price gouging is illegal in all California communities during the declared state of emergency.

It is currently unlawful under Executive Order N-03-21 to increase the price of emergency supplies or medical supplies by more than 10 percent of what the seller charged for that item on February 4, 2020. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if the seller has experienced increased costs in labor, goods, or materials, or if the seller sold the item at a discount on February 4, 2020, in which case they may sell the item for no more than 10 percent greater than the price at which they ordinarily sold the item. If the seller did not offer the item for sale on February 4, 2020, the seller may not sell the item at a price that is 50 percent greater than what they paid for it, or, if the seller produced the item, they may not sell it for a price that is 50 percent greater than the cost to produce and sell the item. These protections are currently in place until September 4, 2021.

Executive Orders N-44-20 and N-78-20 previously imposed the same price constraints on food items and consumer goods, in addition to emergency and medical supplies. Food items and consumer goods are no longer subject to state price-gouging restrictions as of March 4, 2021.

In addition to the above Executive Orders, Penal Code section 396 generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations, and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business. California's price gouging law also applies to transactions between manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers as it does between retailers and consumers.

The statute’s effective period lasts 30 days after a declaration of emergency, and it can be extended by state or local officials. The state, and most local agencies, have extended this period in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency. Local governments can also pass their own laws that prohibit price gouging, and a number of California cities and counties have done so.

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution. The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the statute.

If you have been the victim of price gouging, or have information regarding potential price gouging, you can file a complaint at oag.ca.gov/report.

Price Gouging Fact Sheets:

Recent Price Gouging Updates:

Price Gouging FAQs

In addition to requirements under Penal Code Section 396, which is California’s general price gouging law, the Governor has signed Executive Orders N-44-20, N78-20, and N-03-21, which currently prohibit increasing the price of food items, consumer goods, or medical and emergency supplies, by more than 10 percent of what a seller charged for that item on February 4, 2020. If the seller did not offer the item for sale on February 4, 2020, he or she may not sell the item at a price that is 50 percent greater than what he or she paid for it, or, if the seller produced the item him or herself and therefore did not purchase it, the seller may not sell the item for a price that is 50 percent greater than his or her cost to produce and sell the item. These protections are in place until September 4, 2021.

Previously, the same protections also applied to food items and consumer goods. As of March 4, 2021, food items and consumer goods are no longer subject to state price-gouging restrictions.

The Governor's Orders also extended the protections of Penal Code section 396(b) for food items, consumer goods, and emergency and medical supplies until March 4, 2021, and for emergency and medical supplies until September 4, 2021.

Price gouging refers to sellers trying to take unfair advantage of consumers during an emergency or disaster by greatly increasing prices for essential consumer goods and services.

Yes, in certain circumstances. California’s anti-price gouging statute, Penal Code Section 396, prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared.

Local laws may also contain their own prohibitions on price gouging.

The statute applies immediately after the President of the United States, the Governor of California, or city or county executive officer declares a state of emergency.

Emergency declarations issued by the Governor are generally available on the Governor’s website at gov.ca.gov. For information about local declarations of emergency, please contact your local city or county emergency authority or sheriff’s office.

Individuals, businesses, and other entities must comply with the statute. The statute applies to all sellers, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. It also covers all sales, including sales to individuals and families, businesses and other organizations, and government agencies.

The statute applies to the following major necessities: lodging (including permanent or temporary rental housing, hotel, motels, and mobile homes); food and drink (including food and drink for animals); emergency supplies such as water, flashlights, radios, batteries, candles, blankets, soaps, diapers, temporary shelters, tape, toiletries, plywood, nails, and hammers; and medical supplies such as prescription and nonprescription medications, bandages, gauze, isopropyl alcohol, and antibacterial products.

It also applies to other goods and services including: home heating oil; building materials, including lumber, construction tools, and windows; transportation; freight; storage services; gasoline and other motor fuels; and repair and reconstruction services.

The goods and services listed above are just example; the statute’s protections are not strictly limited to these items.

The statute generally applies for 30 days after the declaration of emergency, although for reconstruction services and emergency cleanup services, it applies for 180 days after a declaration of emergency. State and local officials may extend the effective period of the statute beyond these timeframes.

The statute does not restrict its protection to a city or county where the emergency or disaster is located. In addition to applying in the city or county covered by the declaration, it is intended to prevent price gouging elsewhere in the state where there is increased consumer demand as a result of the declared emergency. For example, if a fire in San Diego County causes residents to evacuate to neighboring Imperial County, hotels in Imperial County may not raise rates by more than 10% to take advantage of the increase in demand for lodging.

If the seller can prove that the increased price is directly attributable to increases in the cost of labor or materials needed to provide the good or service, the seller may not be liable under the statute. It’s important to note that manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors must also comply with the statute when selling covered good or services to a retailer.

As with all other covered goods and services, following a declaration of emergency, the statute generally prohibits landlords from increasing the price of rental housing by more than 10% of the previously charged or advertised price. For rental housing that was not rented or advertised for rent prior to a declaration of emergency, the price cannot exceed 160% of the fair market value of the rental housing as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For rental housing advertised or rented on a daily basis, such as an AirBnB or VRBO listing, the daily price may not be increased by more than 10% following a declaration of emergency. For rental housing advertised or rented on a daily basis prior to a declaration of emergency but offered on a full-time or monthly basis following a declaration of emergency, the price may not exceed 160% of the fair market value of the rental housing as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A landlord may not justify an otherwise unlawful price increase by providing additional services such as gardening, cleaning, or utilities, or because they are now offering a shorter lease term. Similarly, a landlord may not charge more than the allowable price because an insurance company offered to pay a higher price.

Finally, the statute also makes it a separate misdemeanor for a landlord to evict and then re-rent the property at a rate that the landlord would have been prohibited from charging the evicted tenant under the price gouging statute.

Violations of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violations are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution.

The Attorney General, local district attorneys, and private individuals can bring actions for violations of the statute.

Our office cannot give you legal advice or represent you. If you believe that you might have a claim for price gouging, you might consider contacting an attorney to explore your options. For referral to a lawyer, you may contact the State Bar at (866) 442-2529 (toll-free in California) or (415) 538-2250 (from outside California), or through its website at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov. If you cannot afford to pay an attorney, you may consider contacting your local legal aid office. For a referral, visit http://www.lsc.gov and click on the Find Legal Assistance tab, or go to http://lawhelp.ca.org.

Even though our office cannot represent individuals, the Attorney General may, on behalf of the public, investigate or prosecute someone who has engaged in price gouging. Anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, is encouraged to immediately file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office by going to the Attorney General’s website or by calling (800) 952-5225.

Nuestras preguntas frecuentes están disponibles en español aquí.

Coronavirus Scams

Emergency situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic create opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage of vulnerable populations. The Attorney General urges consumers to be aware of scams, including these common ones:

Coronavirus Vaccine Scams: COVID-19 vaccines are being made available to the public free of charge. Because the vaccines are available for free, there is no legitimate way to pay to receive a vaccine sooner. Do not believe anyone who requests payment in exchange for the vaccine or for an earlier appointment date. Do not share your Social Security number, credit card number, bank account number, or immigration status to get the COVID-19 vaccine. No one should be turned away from receiving a vaccine for refusing to provide such information. Once vaccinated, do not share your vaccine card information. To learn more about the vaccines, your eligibility to receive the vaccines, or how to schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/.

Coronavirus “Cures" and Snake Oil Sales: Additionally, consumers should beware of unknown persons trying to sell products or services, online or over the phone, that claim to treat or cure COVID-19. There is currently no medication that cures COVID-19 and you should consult with medical professionals regarding any treatments. Be sure to follow reliable sources regarding updates. Anyone who has been the victim of a snake oil scam or who otherwise has information about products that are falsely touted as coronavirus treatments, tests, or cures should immediately file a complaint at https://oag.ca.gov/report.

Illegal Telemarketers Using Coronavirus as Part of Their Scams: Hang up on telemarketers or robocallers referencing coronavirus to perpetrate scams to steal money or personal information. Do not engage with telemarketers offering treatment, cures, opportunities to work at home, demanding payment to get on waiting lists for testing, or other similar scams. Many long-standing scams are now also being adapted to take advantage of fears over coronavirus, such as robocalls related to air duct cleaning or health insurance. Scammers also often make these claims by text message; do not click on these links or give personal information to these scammers.

Unsolicited Emails Referencing Coronavirus: As with telemarketing, you should be extremely wary of any unsolicited email providing information about coronavirus, even ones that claim to be from reputable organizations. These are likely to be scams or "phishing" attempts to get you to provide personal information or to infect your device with software viruses. If you accidentally open an email, delete the email and do not click on any links or otherwise engage with the sender.

Scams Related to Government Payments: In March 2021, the federal government passed legislation that provides a third “stimulus” payment. For most eligible taxpayers, nothing needs to be done to receive your payment. Most individuals will receive $1,400 per adult and $1,400 for each child, although there are phase-outs at higher income levels. For most, the stimulus payments will automatically go into their bank account by direct deposit. Others may receive payment by paper check or debit card. You can see images of both the debit card and mailer on the US Department of Treasury website. You can also check on the status of your stimulus payment (also known as an “economic impact” payment) at https://https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.

Don’t be fooled by scammers. Remember that no one from the government will ask for your personal information by phone, email, or text. Do not give out any of the following: your Social Security number, credit card number, bank account number, or other personal information. Anyone who asks for such information is a scammer. Additionally, don’t be fooled by scammers who claim that you were overpaid and that you must send them money back by cash, gift card, or any other form of payment.

Most individuals received the first stimulus payment in 2020 and the second stimulus payment in late 2020 or early 2021. If you did not receive one of these stimulus payments and believe you are eligible, the IRS states you can claim missing payments when you file your taxes for 2020. You can check the IRS website for updates about stimulus payments.

Recent Consumer Alerts and Updates:

Charities

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in bogus charities looking to capitalize on people’s desire to help. Attorney General Becerra reminds Californians to do their research before making charitable donations to any nonprofit organizations.

Check the Organization’s Registration Status: Charities operating in California and telemarketers soliciting donations in California are required to register with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts. They are also required to file annual financial reports. Confirm that the charity is registered and up-to-date with their financial reporting by searching the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts at www.oag.ca.gov/charities. You can also verify the tax exempt status of a charity by researching the IRS website and can check to see whether the charity’s tax exemption has been revoked by the California Franchise Tax Board.

Give to Organizations You Trust: Do your research before giving. Review the charity’s purpose and its financial records, available on the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, and find out how it spends donations. How much is spent directly on the charitable cause? How much goes to overhead and employee compensation? Research charities in your community and support those charities that make a positive impact.

Don’t be Pressured by Telemarketers and Ask Questions Before Donating: If you receive a call from a telemarketer, ask for the name of the fundraising organization, whether it is registered with the Attorney General’s Office, the name of the charity benefitting from the solicitation, how much of your donation will go to charity and how much to the telemarketer, and the direct telephone number of the charity. If the telemarketer tells you the donation is for your local animal shelter, hospital, school, police department, firefighter or other public safety agency, check directly with the benefitting organization to confirm that they authorized the solicitation and will actually benefit from your donation. Don’t fall for pressure tactics or threats. Remember you have the right to reject the donation appeal and if you feel pressured or threatened, just hang up.

Be Cautious of "Look-Alike" Websites: These fraudulent websites may look like the websites of organizations you trust, but will have a slightly different web address (URL). Similar looking URLs are sometimes purchased to lure in would-be donors. These sites may ask for personal information or install harmful material onto your device.

Watch Out for Similar-Sounding Names and Other Deceptive Tactics: Some organizations use names that closely resemble those of well-established charitable organizations to mislead donors. Be skeptical if someone thanks you for a pledge you never made. Check your records. Remember: current registration status with the Attorney General’s Office does not mean the Attorney General endorses or has approved the activities of the organization.

Be Wary of Social Network and Crowdfunding Websites: If you are planning to donate through a social network solicitation or through a crowdsourcing website, such as GoFundMe, find out what percentage is going to the charity, whether you will be charged a fee, or if a percentage of your donation will be paid to the platform website.

Protect Your Identity: Never give your Social Security number or other personal information in response to a charitable solicitation. Never give out credit card information to an organization unfamiliar to you. Some organizations sell or rent their donor lists to other organizations, including organizations that are not charities. Look at the charity’s privacy policy and learn with who the charity might share your information before you provide it.

You can find more information on our donation tips webpage.

Charities Fact Sheets:

Recent Charities and Donations Updates:

Privacy and Security Tips for Families

As most of the nation adjusts to mandatory stay-at-home orders, individuals are spending more time than ever on their devices and conducting even more of their lives online. The increased time we spend online can also open us up to cybercriminals, including some that try to take advantage of fears raised by the COVID-19 public health emergency. There are steps we can take to reduce our risk of falling prey to scammers, hackers, and identity thieves.

Avoid Email Scams: The most common coronavirus scam is a phishing email. Phishing emails are emails that appear to be legitimate and ask for personal information, such as your bank account, Social Security number, or your work log-in credentials. Recent phishing emails appear to be coming from fraudsters claiming to be the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization, sometimes suggesting that a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19 is available. Also, watch out for phishing emails that claim to be from charities seeking contributions. Remember that these emails may carry malware that can infect your device and steal your information. Do not click on a link or open an attachment in an email that you were not expecting or that looks suspicious. Furthermore, do not reveal personal or financial information in an email. If you think the email may be legitimate, contact the company to verify it, using contact information from another source, not from the email itself.

Protect Your Virtual Meetings: You can enable the privacy and security settings of your virtual meeting and conference software to avoid interruptions. For example:

  • Always keep your meeting ID private and send it directly to participants. Do not post it publicly. Tell other participants not to post screenshots on social media, especially while a videoconference is in progress.
  • If you’re the host, you can protect the meeting with a password.
  • Turn off settings that may default to save chats or track whether you are paying attention.
  • On some platforms, other settings provide additional protection, such as by: allowing the host to be the only one to share their screen; using a waiting room to screen participants; and locking the meeting when all participants have joined.

Protect Your Accounts: Now is a good time to secure your most sensitive accounts from hackers. The basic username-and-password combination is not enough for accounts that contain information we want to protect, such as your bank accounts, social media accounts, and personal email. One way to secure them is to use "multi-factor authentication" or "two-step verification." For example, add a second layer of protection, such as requiring the account to send a code to your cell phone any time you want to login. Check with your bank, email provider and social media company for information on how to set up stronger authentication.

Protect Your Home Network: You and your family will be safer online if you secure your home network from outside hackers. Keep all internet-connected devices up to date and make sure they have the latest operating system, browsers, and security software. You should also secure your wireless router to protect your network against hackers. You can do this by changing the name of the router and the preset passphrase. If you have questions, contact your internet service provider for assistance.

Protect Your Children Online: While parents establish and adjust to new family routines and working situations, children at home are likely to be more connected than ever. Resources are available to help parents set boundaries and guide their children towards becoming good digital citizens. Information on how to protect children while they are online is available on the Attorney General’s website here. Additionally, consumers can view the Federal Trade Commission’s online guide to talking with kids about being online here.

Recent Data Privacy Updates:

Protection of COVID-19 Stimulus Payments from Garnishment and Seizure

On April 23, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order protecting COVID-19 stimulus payments from garnishment, attachment, levy, execution, setoff, or lien. This includes the federal Economic Impact Payments made under the March 2020 CARES Act and the second-round of stimulus legislation passed in December 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

This means that no bank or any other debt collector that you may owe money to is allowed to take your federal Economic Impact Payments. If a bank or debt collector has already taken your Economic Impact Payments, under the Governor’s executive order, they must refund you the money with no further action on your part. If you believe you are a victim of a violation of this executive order, please file a complaint with our office online at https://oag.ca.gov/report.

Information on the latest Economic Impact Payments is available on the IRS’s website. Some people will receive their Economic Impact Payment by direct deposit. Others will receive it in the mail in the form of a paper check or a debit card. People should watch their mail closely during the month of January 2021.

Recent Protection of CARES Act Updates:

Student Loans

Many Californians are struggling to afford their student loan payments during the COVID-19 emergency. The federal government has taken various actions that may assist you. These protections were recently extended and are now set to expire on September 30, 2021. Note that these actions apply ONLY to your federally held student loans. This includes Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include privately owned FFEL loans, Perkins loans held by institutions such as universities, or other private loans. Contact your student-loan servicer to get more information, or log on to your online account at www.studentaid.gov.

Interest Waiver: All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0%, retroactive to March 13, 2020, and continuing through September 30, 2021.

Forbearance - A Temporary Pause on Your Payments: All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their payments suspended through September 30, 2021. Any auto debit payments made between March 13, 2020 and September 30, 2021 can be refunded to you. You will need to contact your loan servicer to request that your payment be refunded. Unless these federal protections are extended, your payments will start again in October 2021.

Because of the interest waiver, your balance will not grow while your loans are in forbearance. While your payments are suspended, these months WILL count toward your monthly payments for purposes of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven repayment (IDR) plan forgiveness, and other types of loan forgiveness, so long as you continue to meet the other requirements for these programs. As the forbearance period comes to an end on September 30, 2021, you should carefully monitor your e-mail and regular mail for a notice from your loan servicer advising when you need to recertify your income-driven repayment plan. Remember you can recertify at any time – if your income has gone down, recertification may reduce your monthly payment.

If Your Federally Held Student Loans are Already in Default: The U.S. Department of Education has halted voluntary and involuntary collections on federally held student loans. This includes the seizure of tax refunds and wage garnishment during the crisis. This policy was first announced on March 25 but is retroactive to March 13. That means the U.S. Department of Education will return any amounts withheld between March 13 and March 25. The suspension of collections will last until September 30, 2021. Starting October 1, 2021, collection on your federal loans may resume.

Privately Owned FFEL Loans, Perkins Loans, or Other Private Loans: If you hold one of these types of loans, the above protections do not apply to your loans. However, many student loan servicers have voluntarily extended some protections and assistance to student loan borrowers during this time. For more information, go to the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation to see which servicers are participating and what protections apply. Contact your loan servicer to explore your options.

Beware of Student Loan Related Scams: Beware of scammers contacting you requesting a fee to suspend your student loan payments. The federal government will not ask for a fee to suspend your student loan payments, and the suspension of your federally held loans will be automatic. If a scammer contacts you, report them to our Office. Be aware of these warning signs to help you avoid student debt relief scams.

If you need additional information, the following websites may assist you: the U.S. Department of Education’s coronavirus website, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website regarding coronavirus and student loans.

Recent Student Loan Updates:

Other Financial Resources

Unemployment Insurance: If you lose your job or have your hours reduced due to COVID-19-related reasons, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Visit the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) website for additional information about unemployment benefits, and to file a claim. The federal CARES Act expanded benefits eligibility to people who are not eligible for other state unemployment benefits, including people who are self-employed, independent contractors, and business owners. On December 27, 2020, the President signed legislation to extend federal unemployment benefits that expired on December 26, 2020. The EDD has additional information available on its website.

Health Insurance: If you lose your health insurance as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible to sign up for low-cost or no-cost health insurance coverage under Covered California. You can find more information on Covered California’s website.

Other Financial Support: Information about California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can be found at https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/calfresh.

Utility Shutoff Protections: Most California consumers are protected against utility shutoffs during the COVID-19 crisis. Utilities include gas, electricity, and water. On April 2, Governor Newsom issued an executive order that bans water shutoffs for homes and small businesses. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has also banned utility shutoffs by utility providers that are within its jurisdiction. You can find a list of those providers on CPUC’s website. Many cities have also announced bans on utility shutoffs and some have prohibited late fees on utility payments. You should research what protections apply where you live. You should also contact your utility provider if you are having trouble paying your bills – many providers are working with customers to set up payment plans.

Importantly, you will still owe money for your past-due utility bills once the bans are lifted. If you can afford to keep paying your utility bills, you should continue to do so.

Credit Reports: You may be worried about how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting your credit report. For more information go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on how to protect your credit during the pandemic.

Financial Tips: It can feel overwhelming to manage your finances in normal times, let alone during the COVID-19 crisis. A list of helpful tips are available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on how to manage your debt.

Tenants

The Attorney General recognizes that families across the state may be facing difficulty affording rent as the result of layoffs, reduced working hours, and other impacts of COVID-19-related economic shock.

Recently, both the State of California and the federal government created temporary protections against the eviction of tenants who cannot pay rent. California provides new protection in a law called the Tenant Relief Act. On January 29, 2021, a new bill called SB 91 extended the protections in the Tenant Relief Act. The federal protection comes from an Order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC Order"). Both the Tenant Relief Act and the CDC Order are effective in California and protect California tenants. These protections add to the protections provided by other federal, state, and local landlord-tenant laws. You should seek legal advice to help you assert your rights as a tenant. To find a legal aid office near where you live, please visit https://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Need-Legal-Help/Free-Legal-Help

Tenants and landlords can find more details about these new protections below. You can also apply for both protections by sending your landlord the federal and California declarations described below.

It is important to know that these new protections only stop certain evictions; they do not forgive any rent. That means tenants still owe all unpaid rent and should continue paying their rent if they can afford to do so. Try to keep any documentation of layoffs, reduced work hours, or reduced income due to COVID that stopped you from paying all or part of your rent.

California Protection:

The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020, which was extended recently through SB 91, applies to all California residential tenants and mobile home residents. Under this new law:

  • If you cannot pay rent that was due between March 1 and August 31, 2020, your landlord will never be able to evict you for that unpaid rent if you submit this declaration to your landlord within 15 days of receiving a "pay or quit" notice from your landlord (not including weekends or court holidays). The declaration requires you to confirm that you can't pay your full rent because of COVID-19. Your landlord must give you this declaration form when giving you the "pay or quit" notice.
  • If you cannot pay rent that was due between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, your landlord will never be able to evict you for that unpaid rent if you submit this declaration to your landlord within 15 days of receiving a "pay or quit" notice from your landlord (not including weekends or court holidays) and you pay at least 25% of your September to June rent by June 30, 2021. The declaration requires you to confirm that you can't pay your full rent because of COVID-19. Your landlord must give you this declaration form when giving you the "pay or quit" notice. You must submit another declaration every time you receive a “pay or quit” notice.
  • If your household income is at least $100,000 and is 130% of your county's median household income, you may have to provide documentation of your COVID-19 related hardship.
  • You still owe your landlord all unpaid rent, and your landlord can take you to small claims court to force you to pay that rent starting on August 1, 2021.
  • Your landlord may still be able to evict you for reasons other than not paying rent.
  • Tenants with disabilities are entitled to additional protections. For more information, please visit https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/housing/.

These protections do not apply to rent due June 30, 2021 or later.

Federal Protection: The CDC Order

The CDC Order temporarily halts certain types of residential evictions through June 30, 2021. Like California’s Tenant Relief Act, the CDC Order provides protections to some tenants unable to afford the rent due to COVID-19, but has some different rules. Tenants who want to know whether the CDC Order applies to them, or how to get its protections, should contact a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact your local legal aid office, which may be able to refer tenants to free or low-cost legal services.

If you want to take advantage of the protections of the CDC order, you must submit this declaration to your landlord.

Landlord Responsibilities:

Landlords, and those who act on their behalf, such as property managers and attorneys, are responsible for complying with the law, including the following important points.

  • The Tenant Relief Act and CDC Order both make big changes to the rules for notices to quit and eviction cases. For example, when serving a tenant with a notice for unpaid rent or other charges, landlords must also give tenants a blank hardship declaration form, which allows the tenant to notify the landlord if he or she cannot afford the rent because of COVID-19. Landlords may wish to get legal advice regarding this declaration and related new tenant notice rules.
  • A landlord who gets a declaration from a tenant that he or she cannot pay rent, including due to COVID-19-related hardship, may be prohibited from taking action to evict that tenant. The exact rules vary according to the particular notice received, timing of the unpaid rent, and other factors, so landlords may wish to seek legal advice.
  • Tenants who cannot pay the full rent due because of COVID have the right to avoid eviction by paying 25% of the rent due between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Landlords should not try to get around this tenant protection by applying payments to a prior time period.
  • Landlords should not try to evict tenants for breaking their lease agreements to get around COVID-related tenant protections. The law requires that a lease violation be “substantial” or “material” in order to evict a tenant. Many technical lease violations are not substantial enough to evict a tenant, and landlords should not attempt to do so.
  • Landlords may not retaliate against tenants for exercising their rights. For example, a landlord may not try to take away services or rights that the tenant previously enjoyed, like storage space or parking.
  • It is illegal to try to “evict” a tenant by locking him or her out of his or her housing. The only lawful way to evict a tenant is to file a case in court. A “self-help” lockout is a serious offense and can result in major legal consequences, including law enforcement action or a private court case by the tenant.
  • Any landlord planning an owner move-in or a relative move-in for their rental unit must act truthfully and in good faith and only proceed in circumstances that comply with all state and local requirements. These requirements often include restrictions on the window of time a landlord has to move in after an eviction and the length of time that the owner intends live in the rental in order to qualify as a valid owner move-in. Please also be aware that there may be special protections for protected groups such as senior tenants.

Landlords and those acting on their behalf must take care to comply with these requirements. Violators, including any landlord, manager, real estate professional, or attorney who has violated the Tenant Relief Act or the CDC Order, may face enforcement action, which can result in civil penalties, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution.

More Information:

Many cities and counties have also taken action to help tenants during the COVID-19 crisis. Contact your local city or county through the 311 line or check your local government website for further information on protections in your area.

Renters and landlords who have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 may be eligible to receive financial assistance through California’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Program. Eligibility information and applications for financial assistance can be found at housing.ca.gov or by calling (833) 430-2122.

If you are a tenant who needs legal help, you should know that many legal aid offices remain open by phone or email. To find a legal aid office near where you live, please visit https://lawhelpca.org.

Recent Tenant Updates:

Mortgages and Foreclosures

Get in Touch with Your Loan Servicer: If you are having trouble making mortgage payments because of the COVID-19 public health emergency, you may be able to get help. Because certain protections are set to expire soon, contact your mortgage servicer as soon as possible to learn about your options.

What Type of Relief You May Get Depends on Your Loan Servicer and the Type of Loan You Have: Your rights depend on whether you have a federally backed mortgage. Federally backed mortgages include loans insured, issued, or guaranteed by federal agencies like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as loans purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. To find out if your loan is federally backed or which agency backs it, contact your servicer or see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Relief You May Qualify For web page.

Foreclosures for federally backed mortgages are suspended through June 30, 2021 unless the home is vacant or abandoned. Unless the federal government extends this relief, your lender may move forward with foreclosing on your home after this time. If you are having trouble making payments, or to apply for a loan modification or other options to avoid foreclosure, contact your servicer as soon as possible.

Homeowners with a federally backed mortgage who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 can ask for and get forbearance. Forbearance plans allow you to temporarily lower or postpone your monthly mortgage payment for a certain period of time, but you must make up those payments later. To learn more about forbearances, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's What Is Forbearance web page.

The deadline for asking for a forbearance and the length of forbearance depends on which federal agency backs your mortgage.

  • For single-family homes with mortgages backed by the FHA, VA, or USDA, the deadline for asking for a forbearance is June 30, 2021. You can get a 6-month forbearance and can ask for a further extension. If you were in forbearance as of June 30, 2020, you can extend your forbearance period by 12 months (total forbearance of 18 months). If you got a forbearance after June 30, 2020, you can extend your forbearance period by 6 months (total forbearance of 12 months).
  • For single-family homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, no deadline for asking for a forbearance has been announced. You can get a 6-month forbearance and can ask for a further extension. If you were in forbearance as of February 28, 2021, you can extend your forbearance period by 12 months (total forbearance of 18 months).
  • For multi-family homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the deadline for asking for a forbearance is March 31, 2021. If you are given a forbearance, you must offer tenants certain protections, which are listed on the Federal Housing Finance Agency's website.

To get a forbearance or an extension, you must contact your servicer to ask for it. If you fall into one of the categories above, your servicer must grant your request without requiring documentation of financial hardship and without charging additional fees, penalties, or interest (beyond scheduled amounts).

Even if you do not have a federally backed mortgage, many financial institutions have agreed to provide forbearances or other relief to homeowners impacted by COVID-19. Contact your servicer to discuss your options.

Before agreeing to a forbearance or other option, make sure you understand the terms of any forbearance plan or other options offered. Under some forbearance plans, you must resume your regular monthly payments and immediately pay back the postponed payments unless you qualify for a different option. You may have different repayment options, including making up the payments at the end of your loan term. Make sure you know what the repayment terms are and what options you will have if you are still struggling to make payments after the forbearance period. Also check to see if your servicer will waive any late fees or penalties and refrain from negative credit reporting.

Under California law, if your servicer denies a forbearance request that you made between September 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021 because of a COVID-19 related financial hardship, and you were current in your payment as of February 1, 2020, your servicer must state the specific reasons for the denial in writing. If the denial is due to a fixable defect, it must give you 21 days to fix that defect and must respond to your revised forbearance request within 5 business days.

Keep Detailed Records and Review Your Mortgage Statements: It is important to keep documentation about how COVID-19 has hurt your ability to make mortgage payments, for example due to job loss, reduced hours, medical expenses, or caring for a sick family member. You may need to show your servicer this documentation to get relief. If you get a forbearance or other mortgage relief option, make sure to get all the terms in writing from your servicer. Also make sure to review your mortgage statements and check your credit reports to make sure there are no errors. You can get a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com.

Know Your Rights: California's Homeowner Bill of Rights provides protections to homeowners facing foreclosure. To learn more about these rights, please see the Homeowner Bill of Rights. Until January 1, 2023, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 extends these protections to homeowners who rent out their property so long as they have no more than three residential properties, the property is no more than four units, and the property is occupied by a tenant who has lived there since before March 4, 2020 and who cannot pay rent because of a COVID-19 related financial hardship.

Beware of Scams: Fraudsters taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis may try to take your money or even your home by claiming they can help you get mortgage relief or stop foreclosure. Be wary of anyone who charges upfront fees, guarantees results, or asks you to make your mortgage payments to them. Before working with anyone who says they can help you with your mortgage, and to learn about free assistance, please see Loan Modification Fraud and Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Recent Mortgages and Foreclosures Updates

Labor

Workers and employers affected by, impacted by, or navigating questions by COVID-19, can find guidance and resources on the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency’s website.

Recent Updates on Workers' Rights:

Helpful COVID-19 Resources

COVID19.ca.gov has the latest information on coronavirus preparedness and response in California. Critical health information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Additionally, the websites of the California Department of Public Health, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, and Office of Emergency Services have further information for Californians.

COVID-19 Related Press Releases

04/12/21: California Department of Justice Pushes Back on Tyson Foods' Attempt to Sidestep State Court Review of Waterloo Facility COVID-19 Outbreak

03/02/21: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Reported COVID FEES Charged to Patients

02/16/21: Attorney General Becerra: Federal Reserve Proposal Will Reinforce Access to Banking and Credit Services for Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color

01/27/21: Attorney General Becerra Announces Establishment of Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse

01/13/21: Attorney General Becerra Challenges Trump Administration Rule Leaving in Place Insufficient Standards Regulating Particulate Matter Pollution

01/11/21: Attorney General Becerra Joins Bipartisan Coalition Pushing FDA to Examine Progress in Opioid Fight

12/18/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Lawsuit to Stop Trump Administration from Weakening Critical Safeguards for Agricultural Workers

12/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Bipartisan Coalition on 340B Drug Pricing Program Requirements

12/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Petitions Court to Compel Amazon to Comply with Outstanding Investigative Subpoenas

12/10/20: Attorney General Becerra Stands Up Against Trump Administration Attack on Farmworker Wages

12/07/20: Attorney General Becerra Condemns Trump Administration Failure to Strengthen Standards Regulating Particulate Matter Pollution

12/04/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Opposing Dangerous HHS Deregulation by the Trump Administration

11/29/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Renew the CARES Act for COVID-19 Victims

11/16/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Adoption of Emergency Workplace Standard to Help Safeguard Employees from COVID-19 in California

11/09/20: On Eve of Oral Arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court, Attorney General Becerra Issues Statement in Defense of the Affordable Care Act

11/02/20: Attorney General Becerra Condemns Latest Trump Administration Attack on Health and Well-Being of Immigrant Families

10/29/20: Attorney General Becerra: Trump Administration Removes Critical Public Health Protections for Agricultural Workers in the Midst of Pandemic

10/28/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Pushing for Scientific and Medical Research Funding During COVID-19 Pandemic

10/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Highlights Resources to Combat Intimate Partner Violence

10/23/20: As Drug Overdoses Rise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Attorney General Becerra Encourages Californians to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

10/20/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Effort to Stand Up for Voter Protections in Minnesota

10/15/20: Attorney General Becerra Takes Action to Ensure Californians Have Access to Mental Health Care

10/08/20: Attorney General Becerra Stands Up in Support of Effort to Help Americans Vote Safely and Securely During COVID-19

10/06/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Seeking Supreme Court Review Against Trump-Pence Administration’s Title X Family Planning Rule

09/29/20: Attorney General Becerra Opposes SBA Move to Shut Small Businesses Out of Emergency Loans

09/28/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Legal Effort to Protect Voter Rights and Health During COVID-19

09/25/20: Attorney General Becerra: Secretary DeVos Abandons Attempt to Siphon Pandemic Relief Funds from Public Schools

09/24/20: Attorney General Becerra Supports Kentucky’s Fight Against Price Gouging

09/22/20: Attorney General Becerra Condemns Trump Administration Proposal That Would Allow Discrimination Against Transgender Americans Seeking Shelter

09/18/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges California Supreme Court to Hold Mortgage Servicers Responsible and Protect the Rights of Homeowners

09/17/20: After Appeals Court Rejects Federal Government Preemption Directive, Attorney General Becerra Defends California’s Net Neutrality Law in Court

09/17/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Trump Administration to Step Up Food Assistance Response During Ongoing Pandemic

09/10/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following State of Emergency Declaration in Siskiyou County

09/09/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following State of Emergency Declaration in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties

09/08/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Amicus Brief Opposing FDA’s Attempt to Restrict Safe Access to Abortion Medication During COVID-19 Crisis

08/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Secures Early Court Victory Against Trump Administration Attack on Pandemic Relief Funds for Public Schools

08/20/20: Attorney General Becerra Petitions Court to Require California Egg Distributor and its Parent Company to Comply with Investigation into Alleged Price Gouging Violations

08/05/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Amicus Brief Opposing FDA’s Unnecessary Barriers to Abortion Medication During COVID-19 Pandemic

08/05/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Pass Critical Provisions to Provide Equal Relief Options for all Federal Student Loan Borrowers

08/04/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Mortgage Servicers of Their Obligations to California Homeowners During COVID-19 Pandemic

8/4/20: Attorneys General Becerra and Landry Lead Bipartisan Coalition Urging Federal Government Action to Increase Access and Affordability for Remdesivir

07/29/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Reply Brief in Supreme Court Fight to Save the ACA

07/21/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Brief Challenging the Trump Administration’s Removal of Critical Worker Protections in Pork Slaughterhouses

07/17/20: Attorney General Becerra Seeks Court Order to Immediately Block Education Secretary DeVos Rule Threatening K-12 Public School Pandemic Relief Funds

07/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Statement Following Trump Administration’s Decision to Ditch Dangerous Student Visa Directive

7/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Seeks Court Order to Immediately Halt Unlawful Trump Administration Policy Threatening Health and Safety at Colleges and Universities During COVID-19

07/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Congress to Address Childcare Funding as Part of Next Coronavirus Relief Package

07/09/20: Attorney General Becerra, State Public Education Leaders Sue Trump Administration for Arbitrary Policy That Threatens to Spread COVID-19 in Colleges Across the Country

07/09/20: Attorney General Becerra Applauds Court Order Allowing Final Approval Process for Landmark Sutter Settlement to Move Forward

07/07/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Lawsuit Against Secretary DeVos’ Attempt to Siphon Pandemic Relief Funds Away from Public Schools

07/07/20: Attorney General Becerra: Separate Abortion Billing Rule Threatens Health Coverage During the Pandemic, A 60-Day Delay Won’t Fix What’s Broken

06/22/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Brief Challenging the Trump Administration’s Refusal to Open a Special Enrollment Period on HealthCare.Gov in Response to COVID-19

06/18/20: Attorney General Becerra: Charges Filed Against Los Angeles County Pharmacist for Price Gouging on Masks

06/16/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter to Google and Apple Expressing Concerns Regarding Proliferation of Unofficial Contact Tracing Apps

06/12/20: Attorney General Becerra Slams Rollback of Section 1557 Protections: Discrimination Has No Place in Our Public Health System

06/11/20: Attorney General Becerra Highlights Consumer Rights and Resources in Response to Recent Business Bankruptcies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

06/08/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scams

06/04/20: Attorney General Becerra Files Amicus Brief Challenging FDA’s Unnecessary Barriers to Abortion Medication in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

06/02/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Coalition Calling on Walmart to Step Up Efforts to Protect Workers and the Public During COVID-19

06/01/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Coalition Urging Congress to Protect SNAP, Keep Food on Families’ Tables

05/21/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Bipartisan Coalition Backing Federal Legislation to Support Families of First Responders Affected by COVID-19

05/20/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on Auto Manufacturers to Ensure Consumers Timely Vehicle Lease Returns During the COVID-19 Pandemic

05/19/20: Attorney General Becerra Announces Over $550 Million Settlement Against Nation’s Largest Subprime Auto Financing Company for Deceptive Auto Loan Practices

05/14/20: Bipartisan Coalition of Leaders and Experts Support Supreme Court Fight to Protect ACA

05/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Sues Trump Administration Over Non-Compliance Policy That Allows EPA to Give Industry Polluters a Free Pass

05/12/20: Attorney General Becerra Criticizes Reckless Federal Executive Order Forcing Meat and Poultry Workers to Work Without Adequate Protections During COVID-19

05/07/20: Attorney General Becerra and Alameda County District Attorney O’Malley Announce Price Gouging Charges Against Alameda County Grocery Store Owner

05/06/20: Attorney General Becerra: Trump Administration Rule Weakens Federal Protections for Victims of Sexual Violence Under Title IX

05/06/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition of 20 States and the District of Columbia Defending the ACA in U.S. Supreme Court

05/06/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Warns Consumers to Beware of Scams Related to Economic Impact Stimulus Payments

05/05/20: Attorney General Becerra Pushes for Greater Transparency and Communication as Coronavirus Continues to Spread in Nursing Homes

05/01/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Secretary Ben Carson to Further Protect Senior Homeowners with Reverse Mortgages Affected by COVID-19

04/30/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Guidance to Law Enforcement on Hate Crimes During COVID-19

04/30/20: Attorneys General Becerra and Healey Urge HHS Not to Finalize Rule That Would Permit Healthcare Discrimination During Global COVID-19 Pandemic

04/28/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Reminds Credit Reporting Agencies to Comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Protect Consumers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

4/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Proposes Changes to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule to Provide Stronger Consumer Protections Within the Funeral Industry

04/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on Federal Government to Increase Protections for Homeowners During COVID-19

04/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Proposes Changes to the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule to Provide Stronger Consumer Protections Within the Funeral Industry

04/22/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on the Federal Communications Commission and Telecom Industry to Further Protect Consumers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

04/21/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter to 3M Requesting Increased Coordination with States to Aid COVID-19 Response

04/17/20: Attorney General Becerra Calls on Trump Administration to Protect Vulnerable Communities from Homelessness During COVID-19, Halt Proposal Threatening Mass Evictions

04/14/20: Attorney General Becerra Co-leads Push with Michigan and North Carolina AGs for Increased Federal Government Outreach to Inform Americans of Healthcare Coverage Eligibility During COVID-19

04/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Shares Resources to Combat Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19

04/13/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Joins Coalition Urging the Department of the Treasury to Immediately Exempt COVID-19 Emergency Monetary Relief from Garnishment

04/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges Trump Administration to Take Action to Minimize the Spread of COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Facilities

04/13/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter Opposing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Decision to Scale Back Enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act

04/10/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Consumers of their Data Privacy Rights During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

04/07/20: Attorney General Becerra and Commissioner of Business Oversight Alvarez Issue Investor Alert About Investment Scams Related to COVID-19

04/07/20: Attorney General Becerra Co-leads Letter Urging Trump Administration to Safeguard Americans’ Healthcare Coverage, Halt Implementation of Their Abortion Separate Payment Rule

04/07/20: Following Judicial Council’s Emergency Eviction Rule, Attorney General Becerra Issues Updated Consumer Alert for Tenants Affected by COVID-19

04/06/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Standing Up for Antidiscrimination Protections in Federal Contracts

04/03/20: Attorneys General Becerra and Stein Send Letter Urging Trump Administration to Instate Special Enrollment Period on Healthcare.gov to Help Millions of Consumers with COVID-19 Costs

04/03/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Urging the VA to Suspend Deadlines and Collection Activities for Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic

4/3/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Amicus Brief Challenging Texas’ Restrictions on Abortion During COVID-19

04/02/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Californians the Filing Deadline for Tax Season Has Been Extended Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

03/31/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Coalition Calling on Trump Administration to Halt Implementation of Joint Employer Rule Undermining Wage Protections

03/30/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition of 21 Attorneys General Asking FDA to Increase Access to Reproductive Telehealth Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

03/27/20: Attorney General Becerra Reminds Wholesalers and Manufacturers They are Subject to California's Price Gouging Law

03/27/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert Regarding False Advertising Related to Coronavirus

03/27/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Coalition Calling on Trump Administration to Suspend Title IX Rulemaking During Public Health National Emergency

03/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Letter Urging Secretary DeVos to Protect Student Loan Borrowers During COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

03/26/20: Attorney General Xavier Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Fraudulent Charities Amid the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

03/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Urging Trump Administration to Ease Restrictions and Allow Medical Professionals to Research Solutions to COVID-19 Pandemic

03/26/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins Coalition Urging Whole Foods and Amazon to Step Up on Worker Protections and Paid Sick Leave

03/23/20: Attorney General Becerra Urges the Trump Administration to Fully Invoke the Defense Production Act and Provide Supplies to Combat COVID-19

03/19/20: Attorney General Becerra Joins 18 Attorneys General Calling on Trump Administration to Halt Implementation of Its Public Charge Rule Which Could Undermine COVID-19 Response

03/18/20: Attorney General Becerra: Education Secretary DeVos’ Move to Strip Protections from Students Loan Borrowers Is Illegal, Couldn’t Come at a Worse Time; California Will Challenge It

03/4/20: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following Statewide Declaration of Emergency for Novel Coronavirus Cases in California Communities