In August 2020 Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020. Among other protections, the law gave tenants who were unable to pay rent due to COVID-19-related distress for the period September 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021, until January 31, 2021 to pay 25 percent of the rent owed during that period to avoid eviction. Days before January 31, 2021, Governor Newsom signed another bill (SB-91) that gave tenants even more time to come up with 25 percent of the rent owed.
Under SB-91, a landlord may not initiate an unlawful detainer action against a tenant that is unable to pay rent during the period September 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 due to COVID-19-related financial distress if, on or before June 30, 2021, the tenant pays 25 percent of the rent that came due during that period. The tenant must also provide a declaration to the landlord of COVID-19-related financial distress in response to a landlord’s notice demanding rent. The landlord’s notice must comply with the new requirements under SB-91.
Additionally, SB-91 clarifies that a landlord may not apply a tenant’s security deposit to satisfy rent that is owed but not paid during the period September 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 unless the tenant agrees in writing.