Take action against eviction by reviewing your options based on whether you are a renter or a homeowner. The first step is to assess your situation and ask for help.
Despite any financial challenges to pay your housing, you have rights as a tenant and threats of eviction due to your Immigration or Citizenship Status are illegal. Do not move out.
If you need help with fighting an eviction contact a local legal aid office immediately, you can search for local assistance here. You may locate housing assistance in your state by visiting Just Shelters’ community resource page. If you live in California you may be eligible for California's COVID-19 Rent Relief program. For more information and to fill out an application visit https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr or call 833-430-2122.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new order to protect against eviction. It is effective from September 4th through December 31st, 2020 and intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Depending on where you live, there may be additional protections by local governments, visit this page for more information.
Renters must present a Tenant Declaration Form to inform landlords of financial hardship to pay rent. The declaration is sworn testimony so it is important to understand what you are declaring and to be honest. Please read the form for a full overview of the declaration.
Through the declaration, you will be required to attest to the following:
- You have made your best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing,
- You do not earn more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return),
- You have gone through a substantial loss of household income,
- You are unable to pay full rent and have made your best efforts to pay partial rent,
- And, eviction would be likely to leave you homeless or force you to live with others at close quarters
Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should complete this declaration and provide a copy to the landlord, owner of the residential property in question, or any other person who has a right to evict or remove you from where you live.
The eviction moratorium does not relieve you of your obligation to pay your rent, it merely forbids your landlord from evicting you during the period of September 4th through December 31st, 2020 due to late or incomplete payment. It is likely that any unpaid rent will be required to be paid in full at the end of the eviction moratorium period. You may also still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment so it is important that you comply with the other provisions of your rent or lease agreement.
In California, 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. However, tenants must also pay at least 25 percent of the rent due to avoid eviction for a COVID-19 related hardship that accrues between September 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021. A tenant declaration form is still the best course of action.
We recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself from eviction:
- Document any conversations you have had with the landlord about your situation. This includes any text messages, emails or notices between you and your landlord.
- Explain your financial situation to your landlord and relay how much you are able to pay.
- Be honest about your situation and share how you would be impacted if you lose your housing.
- Ask about any payment arrangements and do not commit to an amount you cannot afford to pay.
- Save all financial documents, including:
- Termination notices or statements from employer,
- Paystubs and bank statements,
- Medical bills and medical records (in case you are sick),
- Pay as much of your rent as you can and keep records of your payments.
Follow-up any verbal conversations in writing with a letter and keep a copy for your records. This site offers a free letter-builder to help you write a letter to your landlord. Additional resources are available on Legal Link's resource page.
If you live in San Francisco and have already received a summons to vacate contact Eviction Defense Collaborative at (415) 470-5211 or visit their page for information, they also provide legal help. View the flyer below this article if you are a San Francisco resident at risk of becoming homeless.
If you live in San Francisco or Oakland and have not received a summons, contact Causa Justa at (415) 487-9203 (SF Clinic) or (510) 836-2687 (Oakland Clinic) or visit their page. Additional tenant resources are available through the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and Berkeley's Housing Retention Program provides grant assistance to Berkeley, CA residents at risk of eviction.
The foreclosure process varies depending on the state where the property is located. Under federal law, a servicer generally cannot start the state foreclosure process until the loan is more than 120 days past due.
Homeowners impacted by the pandemic must reach out to their mortgage lenders for help. The California Department of Business Oversight has a contact list of financial institutions that homeowners may reference for contact information. If you do not live in California, your mortgage statement is the best place to locate appropriate contact information. You can also visit this page to find out who owns your mortgage.
The federal government has ordered mortgage lenders to work with affected homeowners but the type of assistance that is available will depend on the mortgage company. Mortgage companies typically offer a temporary reduction of mortgage payments or suspension for up to 12 months. The CFPB offers an overview of mortgage assistance during the pandemic.
It is important to reach out to your mortgage company as soon as possible to let them know you have been financially impacted as a result of the pandemic. Keep records of how you were financially impacted and the document the discussions you have with your mortgage company.
You can schedule an appointment to speak with one of our financial coaches for advice about your situation. We can help you by reviewing your resource allocation and writing letters to your landlord.