California Eviction Protections during the Covid-19 Pandemic

On January 28, 2021, the California legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 91 which extended eviction protections which were first passed through AB 3088 in September 2020. The law creates eviction protections for tenants that have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadly speaking, tenants who have lost income due to COVID, may not be evicted for non-payment of rent through July 1, 2021.  

Rent debt owed between March 2020 through August 31, 2020 is converted into consumer debt  and can never be the basis for an eviction (if the tenant follows all requirements). The debt is however, collectable through other means such as small claims and regular civil court. However, the landlord may not seek the debt owed until July 1, 2021. 

Tenants who were unable to pay their rent from September 2020- June 30, 2021,are required  to pay at least 25% of their rent from this period before June 30, 2021 in order to avoid eviction. The remaining 75% of rent will be converted to consumer debt. 

Is the Rent Cancelled?

Sort of.  SB 91 created a robust rental assistance program for tenants who make less than 80% of the area median income. In many areas, landlords may apply for rental assistance and if they agree to waive 20% of the rent owed, the government will pay the other 80% of the money owed. If they do, then the tenant’s consumer debt for that period will be gone.  

SB 91 provides both rental and utility assistance for struggling tenants.  If you have not been able to pay rent and are in need of rental assistance and utility assistance visit the website:

If the landlord refuses the program, a tenant will be able to apply to the same fund for the 25% payment. 

To find out which program your city/ county will be using for the Local and State Rent Assistance:

Tenants must provide a signed declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress if given a pay or quit notice by their landlord

If you can’t pay your rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your landlord must give you a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit before filing an eviction lawsuit for failure to pay rent.

If you receive a 15-day notice, within 15 days you must give your landlord a signed declaration that says that you cannot pay rent because of COVID-19.

Here is a sample declaration that complies with the law that you can use (click here).

If you give this declaration to your landlord, we recommend sending it by certified mail so that you have evidence that you send it. You should send this declaration to your landlord each time you receive a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit. Make a copy of the declaration after you sign it and keep proof that you sent this notice each time -- like your certified mail receipt.

Paying your Rent

If you owe rent that was due from March 1, 2020 - August 31, 2020: If you return the declaration to your landlord in time, you cannot be evicted for not paying this rent. 

If you owe that was due from September 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021. You will need to pay 25% of the total rent between September 2020 and June 2021 no later than June 30, 2021. The other 75% of rent is converted into consumer debt. You may be able to qualify for a rent assistance program through your city, county, or the state that will pay some or all of your back rent.

If you receive an eviction notice or summons for an eviction lawsuit, or notice to vacate, seek legal help immediately. 

The California Rental Assistance Program is now available. If you were unable to pay rent because of the pandemic, you should visit and apply for funding. Depending on where you live, you will either apply to the local program or to the state program. 

Other Types of Evictions

State law protects tenants from “no cause” evictions until July 1, 2021. 

Your city or county may also have passed stronger protections than state law for other types of evictions or even for tenants who can’t pay rent. 

Legal Resources near you: 

ACCE is dedicated to organizing all across the state with offices located in 5 major Cities: Sacramento, Contra Costa, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego. If you are located in one of these cities attend our local legal clinic!

LA ACCE Tenant Clinic

Every Tuesday, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Conducted in Spanish, translated into English

Zoom Link:

Call: +1 (669) 900-6833

Zoom Meeting ID: 883 2443 4157, One Tap Mobile: +16699006833,,88324434157#

Every Thursday, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Conducted in English, translated into Spanish

Zoom Link:

Call: 1+ (669) 900-9128

Zoom Meeting ID: 867 4772 4443, One Tap Mobile: +16699009128,,86747724443#

San Diego ACCE Tenant Clinic

Every Friday, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Zoom Link:

Call: +1 (669) 900-6833

Zoom Meeting ID: 840 9479 4785 or One Tap Mobile: +16699006833,,84094794785#

Sacramento Tenant Clinic

Every 1st Saturday of the Month: 

Register in advance here:

Statewide Tenant Clinic 

Every Thursday at 7pm in Spanish and English

Register in advance here:

To find legal services organizations in your area here:

or you can fill out the below form and one of our organizers will contact you: