Eviction Moratorium is Ending: Here’s What To Do If You Owe Back Rent

Facing eviction? The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a drastic economical downfall that was felt all over the world. In December 2020, congress allocated 25 billion in rental assistance to help struggling Americans. The logic was simple, help people who were struggling with money to pay rent so they won’t be evicted. A great number of Californians took advantage of this and applied, but other renters saw that the rental assistance application website had closed in minutes.

This caused many renters to panic, while being out of work and not being able to pay some landlords saw the perfect opportunity to evict tenants. COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act (SB 91, 2020 Budget Act) states that landlords may not evict tenants for failure to pay rent if those tenants have delivered to their landlord a declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress within 15 days of being served with a notice to quit based on nonpayment of rent.

Unfortunately, some renters still received eviction notices, your landlord must prove you violated the lease agreement and just ended the rental agreement. These are the different types of eviction notices a renter will receive:

California’s Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 (AB 3088)

This program helps beneficiaries of Section 8 housing vouchers pay rent on homes or apartments and locate them in safer neighborhoods, a better school district, or even close to their job. This option is open to any current section 8 and there is a waiting list, with the possible priority given to the disabled and senior citizens if they have a crisis. SAFMR also can help low-income single moms move into safer neighborhoods. On August 31, 2020, California adopted legislation (AB 3088) to protect tenants and small landlords from the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic effects. It includes the COVID-19 Tenants Relief Act of 2020, which provides the tenant protections described in the linked material. 

COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act (SB 91, 2020 Budget Act)

On January 29, 2021, the Governor signed a bill that extends the protections in AB 3088 through June 30, 2021, and includes some additional protections. HUD vouchers for paying rent, security deposits, moving costs, and the government will also help in preventing evictions. Housing Choice Voucher Program provides accessible and affordable housing for very low-income families, (as well as those with past evictions). The homes are based on income, and the government makes arrangements for public housing for the poor, disabled, and elderly. Learn more about the Section 8 housing assistance program.

Coronavirus Relief Fund

Will help renters meet other needs. The federal and /or state governments offer loans along with other forms of financial support to help the needy. From the working poor to households living in poverty, you can get help from the government.

How to Deal With an Eviction Lawsuit?

When you do not fix the defect in the lease, or settle, your landlord will go forward with a lawsuit to remove you. The landlord will serve you properly with a copy of the complaint, and the summons to move forward with evicting you. When you are served the court papers, a summons, and a “Forcible Entry and Detainer Complaint” the summons will give you a date and time. And usually, the notice gives you as little as 7 days, so prepare to contact a lawyer as soon as possible and provide this information:

  • Eviction notice AKA “Notice to Quit”
  • Lease agreement or rental agreement
  • Rent receipts or any evidence of payment
  • Summons and Complaint

There are also written forms that help when you fight your eviction without a lawyer. Follow the guidelines on filling out the proper documentation here. Federal and state laws allow tenants to legally move and break a lease if planning to relocate because of a present employer, or for an elderly care facility.

Family Crisis Assistance Program (Emergency Assistance)

Contact the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This program provides emergency help to low-income households with children. And they will assist you with up to $250.00 for a housing emergency. This can be helpful for back rent or go towards a security deposit.

The Landlord Violates a Term in the Lease

A violation of the health and safety codes whereas it creates intolerable living conditions for a tenant, measures to “constructive eviction.”

Damage Whereas Rental Prohibits Occupancy

When a natural disaster occurs, the tenant may move before a lease is up, or some other occurrence whereas the tenant bears no responsibility, destroys, or damages the rental.

Security Deposit

The landlord may use the security deposit for unpaid rent, wear, and tear beyond ordinary use, to clean/ restore the rental to the same condition prior to the tenant’s occupancy, and if the lease or rental agreement allows it, the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other personal property (including keys). However, a landlord may not use the security deposit to fix damage due to normal wear and tear. Under California law, the landlord must send either a full refund of up to 21 days or an itemized statement of any deductions and reasons for the deduction.

The landlord must provide you with copies of receipts for the charges to repair or clean the rental unit, that the landlord deducted and follow these rules. How about if another person or business did the work? the landlord must provide copies of the person’s or business’ receipts or invoices, and provide you with the person’s or business’s name, and address.

Receiving an Eviction Notice Without a Cause

There are some situations where the landlord will ask you to vacate the property, even though you are paying your rent on time and have not caused any problems that would allow for eviction for a cause. The landlord must give you extra time for you to move out (thirty to sixty days is the general length of time), and will allow you to find another place to live.

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