Understanding COVID-19 Tenant Protections


Many tenants across the United States are having trouble making their rent payments as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Fortunately, federal, state, and local governments are providing protection and relief for both tenants and landlords. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide order to halt certain residential evictions until January 31, 2021, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act offers additional eviction protection, and Governor Gavin Newsom signed tenant and landlord protection legislation into law for Californians on August 31, 2020.

Federal Protections

Under federal eviction protection, you must still pay rent on the regular due date if you are able. If you meet eligibility requirements and complete a CDC declaration stating such, you will be protected from eviction through January 31, 2021.

The CARES Act will also protect you from eviction and late fees due to nonpayment of rent if you live in federally subsidized housing or if your landlord is receiving mortgage relief. These protections may last longer than CDC protections.

In either situation, you must pay rent if you can and contact your landlord or housing authority right away if financial hardship prevents you from doing so. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends making a repayment agreement to help you avoid eviction once federal and state moratoriums are over. You may also qualify for financial assistance or a reduction in rent.

Use the Resources for Renters document from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for more information.

State Legislation

California’s AB 3088 protects tenants who are unable to pay all or part of their rent for a COVID-related reason. The law states the following legal and financial protections for tenants:

  • No tenant can be evicted before February 1, 2021 as a result of rent owed due to a COVID-19 related hardship accrued between March 4 – August 31, 2020, if the tenant provides a declaration of hardship according to the legislation’s timelines. For a COVID-19 related hardship that accrues between September 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021, tenants must also pay at least 25 percent of the rent due to avoid eviction.”
  • The notice period for nonpayment of rent is extended from 3 to 15 days.
  • Extensions when tenants have a good reason for failing to return the hardship declaration within 15 days.
  • Landlords must provide hardship declaration forms in different languages if rental agreements were negotiated in different languages.
  • Landlords must notify tenants of their rights under AB 3088.
  • Tenants may not be evicted for “just cause” if the eviction is due to COVID-19-related nonpayment of rent.
  • Evictions involving nonpayment of rent should not be publicly disclosed.

Additional bills in California prevent landlords from raising rent during this difficult time and initiate rent control in mobile home parks.

What To Do If Your Landlord Fails To Comply

Even if your landlord is not understanding of your situation, they are bound to federal, state, and local laws until eviction moratoriums expire. Tenants also have protection from housing discrimination and the right to a safe living space during the COVID-19 pandemic and at all other times.

If you are having problems with your landlord, you may file a fair housing complaint with HUD, report a bad landlord in federal housing, or submit a complaint with the CFPB.

You can also contact an attorney for help with landlord-tenant laws.

At Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP, we focus on real estate and mobile home law. We have been in practice since 1987, we are relentless in resolving cases, and we are ready to help you.

Call us at (888) 998-2031 to get started today.