Understanding how renters are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
As a tenant what you still qualify for and more importantly, what’s ended
Credit: One Medical
During the coronavirus pandemic there were several funds disbursed to institutions like small business, schools, and social programs-including programs targeted at housing and rent relief. These emergency funds became available at the beginning of lockdown, as many lost their jobs due to the virus’ spread and its impact on businesses.
While small business owners could collect money to offset their leases and expenses, renters benefitted from assistance as well from programs on the county, state and federal level that mostly began April 1, 2020. As a Californian, you most likely would take advantage of rental assistance or eviction moratoriums under the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
If you fell under this program it is important to know what exactly you were entitled to and perhaps can sue to recuperate, as well as what you were not or might be liable to be sued for. Specifically, the Rent Relief program lets people be eligible to have both rent and utilities covered dating as far back as April 1, 2020. Importantly, if you are part of the Rent Relief and applied before March 31, 2022, for your landlord to evict you they must also apply for the rental assistance program before March 31st, 2022. Therefore, even if they serve you ‘pay or quit’ notice where you must make outstanding payments or be evicted, you may still fall under COVID-19 financial distress and not be obligated to pay or be evicted. If you are served this you should still submit a response within 15 days should your case go to trial, it makes your chances of winning stronger.
As per Senate Bill 115, all of these protections ended as of April 1, 2022. However, under this same bill, applications that were in by March 31, 2022 both can qualify for the allotment requested for the duration that is admitted and also have protection against eviction until June 30, 2022. However, as per the Tenant Protection Act, the landlord must respect the strictest protections whether that is city, county, or state. In some counties and states, there have even been extensions of some of the emergency rent relief programs. Therefore, even though some of COVID-19's protections are falling away, make sure to look into your city and county eviction protection laws since they might be still stricter than statewide laws.
The people who qualify for these programs are those who are residents (since funds come from counties and state). Besides being a resident you must be low-income, at risk of losing housing(due to eviction or safety issues for example) and becoming homeless. The State of California’s ‘Housing is Key’ program provides various protections before and after COVID-19. The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley also provides people with a lot of help in understanding what they can benefit from in terms of protections against homelessness, evictions, and unfair practices against renters.
There are many instances where full pay-outs, wrongful evictions, or improper protocols were followed and you may have a legal case in these conditions. If you feel like you have rights impinged upon, please seek legal assistance as soon as you can. We would be happy to help.
Aziz Yellin LLP
This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.