OAKLAND – Following the expiration of the statewide eviction moratorium, California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert reminding California’s tenants and homeowners of their rights and protections under California law. Attorney General Bonta provides the following information to help Californians understand the protections in place as of October 1, 2021, to help prevent evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic. More information and resources can be found at: https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/covid-19. In addition, certain jurisdictions in the state have local laws in place to protect tenants from eviction. Californians should check what rules are in place where they live.
“While the statewide eviction moratorium may have ended, the financial impacts of COVID-19 have not,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Many Californians are still facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and may find it difficult to afford their rent and mortgage payments. But even though the eviction moratorium is expiring, there are still protections in place for California renters and homeowners. I urge all Californians to know your rights, and apply for assistance if you think you may be eligible.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of California put in place tenant protections through a law called the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, but those protections are changing after September 30, 2021.
Effective October 1, the following rules apply to residential tenants and mobile home residents:
These protections do not apply to rent due October 1, 2021, or later. However, between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, your landlord can only evict you for back rent you owe because of COVID-19 if your landlord (1) certifies that they have applied for government assistance to cover the back rent you owe but the application was denied, or (2) certifies that they completed a rental assistance application and have not received notice from either the government or you that you have applied for rental assistance. The landlord cannot move forward with eviction until at least 20 days after submitting their rental assistance application and serving a notice to quit.
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-19 that stopped you from paying all or part of your rent.
APPLYING FOR RENT RELIEF: You may be eligible for state or local rental assistance that can assist you in covering the unpaid portion of your rent and utilities, and you should apply as soon as possible. Visit https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/ for more information and to apply. Income eligibility limits apply. You must take action to get this assistance.
SEEKING LEGAL ADVICE: You should seek legal advice to help you assert your rights as a tenant. If you are sued or receive an eviction notice, don't ignore it – get help. Information on legal aid in your area is available at https://lawhelpca.org.
Homeowner Bill of Rights
California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights provides protections to homeowners facing foreclosure and tenants in foreclosed homes, and puts certain responsibilities on mortgage servicers. Key provisions include:
For more information about the Homeowner Bill of Rights, please visit https://oag.ca.gov/hbor.
If you are having trouble making mortgage payments, contact your servicer to ask for help. You can submit a loss mitigation application to your servicer to see if you are eligible for any alternatives to foreclosure. Once you submit an application, your servicer will tell you if it needs additional information or documents to make that application "complete." Your servicer may offer you streamlined options based on an evaluation of an incomplete loss mitigation application. For more information about the foreclosure process, scams to watch out for, and resources that may help you, see Loan Modification Fraud and Foreclosure Rescue Scams.
If you are having trouble making payments because of COVID-19, ask your mortgage servicer for help. Homeowners with a federally backed mortgage have certain protections:
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.
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.
If you became more than 120 days behind on your mortgage on or after March 1, 2020, your servicer can start the foreclosure process before January 1, 2022, if any of the following conditions apply:
These conditions do not apply if your servicer starts the foreclosure process on or after January 1, 2022. They also do not apply if you were more than 120 days behind on your mortgage before March 1, 2020.
Local Resources and Protections
Some local governments have laws in place to protect tenants from eviction. Californians should check what rules are in place where they live: