Both tenants and landlords have most likely heard some buzz in the news about rent, evictions, and the government efforts to help those affected by COVID-19. In this article we will answer some common questions about Coronavirus and how it may affect you.
Do I need to pay my rent?
“Tenants must demonstrate a substantial decrease in income or medical expenses caused by COVID-19 in order to qualify for a delayed rent payment. It will not relieve a tenant of their requirement to pay rent or restrict a landlord from recovering rent at a future time.”
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I’m just trying to report some helpful information. Whether or not you should pay rent, or the consequences of not paying your rent, should be consulted with a lawyer.
What did San Diego do for renters affected by Coronavirus?
“To help San Diego residents who are experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego City Council on March 25, 2020, adopted a temporary ban on evictions in the City of San Diego related to COVID-19.
This means that landlords cannot take action to evict a tenant for not paying rent that was due on or after March 12, 2020, if the tenant is not able to pay because of the financial effects of COVID-19.
The temporary ban on evictions lasts until May 31, 2020, unless the City Council takes action to extend it.”
The emergency ordinance specifically stated that all back rent be paid within six months or sooner.
“Tenants must demonstrate a substantial decrease in income or medical expenses caused by COVID-19 in order to qualify. It will not relieve a tenant of their requirement to pay rent or restrict a landlord from recovering rent at a future time.”
What did California do for tenants affected by Coronavirus?
Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Friday, March 27th that will give some tenants extended leniency to pay their landlords. “It does not preempt any local ordinances that go deeper or farther, but it is an overlay for the entire state of California,” Newsom said at the Friday press conference.
The governor has banned eviction orders “for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020.” The court will not be able to enforce eviction orders during this time.
What are banks doing for landlords with tenants affected by COVID-19?
For landlords who are worried about not being able to pay their mortgage if they don’t collect rent: Most big banks and over 200 state-chartered banks and credit unions have agreed to 90-day mortgage waivers “for those that have been impacted by COVID-19.”
FAQ for tenants and landlords regarding COVID-19
Question: Do I have to pay rent in April?
Answer: If your lease agreement states that rent is due April 1, you will be required to pay on time unless you can prove to your landlord, with documentation, that you have been “impacted” or “affected” by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Question: What kind of documentation do I need to provide my landlord to prove I have been impacted or affected by Coronavirus?
Answer: Termination notices, payroll checks or stubs showing substantial decrease in income, bank statements, medical bills, or signed letters or statements from an employer explaining the tenant’s financial circumstances have changed.
Question: How long do I have to tell my landlord I can’t pay my rent this month due to COVID-19?
Answer: A tenant must notify their landlord in writing that they are not able to pay their rent in a timely manner because of COVID-19. (Email and text communication are valid forms of written notice.)
This written notice must be provided to the landlord on or before the date the rent is due.
Question: How long do I have to provide financial proof to my landlord that I was affected by Coronavirus and cant pay rent?
Answer: Within one week of providing this notice (above) to the landlord, the tenant must provide the landlord with documents or objectively verifiable information that the tenant is unable to pay rent because of the financial effects of COVID-19. (Examples of documentation: note or letter from employer regarding tenant’s loss or substantial reduction in employment; payroll records showing substantial loss of income due to COVID-19; bank statements that illustrate a drop in income; or other documentation that proves that tenant has not been generating the same level of income due to COVID-19. A tenant may also show substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19.)
If a tenant does not provide the required documents/information within one week, a landlord may pursue an enforcement action that is allowed by state or local laws.
Question: What is back-due rent?
Answer: Your rent is not going away, it’s being delayed. As of now (subject to change), tenants will have to pay the agreed upon rent amount by May 31, 2020 to avoid evictions. This San Diego Union Tribune article states that San Diego enacted an emergency ordinance that requires all back-due rent to be paid within 6 months. There is a bit of a discrepancy in these two dates. Most sources in San Diego state that it will be 6 months.
Question: What if I haven’t been affected by Coronavirus, do I still have to pay my full rent? What if I want to save money to prepare for any future financial hardships?
Answer: Tenants must prove their financial situation has changed due to Coronavirus, or else they must pay their rent in full when it is due. Nothing should prevent tenants from paying rent on time, or relieve a tenant of liability for unpaid rent.
Question: If I cant pay rent this month, what happens to my lease?
Answer: I recommend communicating with your landlord about your situation and why you are not able to pay rent. Legally, the landlord only has to adhere to the lease agreement, and the ordinances put into affect by San Diego, CA and the US gov’t. If you cant pay your rent this month, and you were not affected by Coronavirus, you may still be able to work something out with your landlord.
Question: I am quarantined and kept away from my residence. Do I still owe my rent?
Answer: Yes, but this may mean that your financial situation has changed. If you can prove that your financial situation has changed due to COVID-19, you may be able to delay your rent payment.
Question: If I don’t pay my rent, can my landlord cancel my lease?
Answer: Yes. Landlords can use the lease agreement to terminate leases if the contract is broken in some way (rent not being paid). However, evictions are banned (not enforceable) during the state of emergency.
Question: If my lease agreement is terminated, will I still be evicted?
Answer: Not until June 1st, as of today, per the executive order.
Question: I’m a home owner with a mortgage payment coming. What does all this mean for me?
Answer: Governor Gavin Newsom issued a separate executive order on Wednesday, March 25th announcing there is a 90-day waiver for home owners who have been impacted and effected by COVID-19.
EDIT April 1: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer anounced the San Diego convention center will be made available for people affected by Coronavirus, including the homeless population.
In summary, does the Coronavirus affect your ability to pay rent?
Please do your own additional research before making any serious financial decisions. The main goal is to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, and to allow the people affected some leniency with their finances. If you have been affected, there are systems put into place to help you.