SB 91

COVID-19 relief: tenancy: federal rental assistance (Evictions moratorium)

Authors: 

Chiu

Bill Status: 

Signed by the Governor

Transform Position: 

Support

From our friends at East Bay Housing Organizations:

In January, Governor Newsom signed SB 91, or the “COVID-19 Relief Act of 2021,” which extended the statewide moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 (AB 3088) until June 30th, 2021. The main elements of SB 91 remain the same as AB 3088.

In order to qualify for these protections, a tenant who receives an eviction notice for non-payment of rent must use the form provided to declare under penalty of perjury that they were unable to pay due to COVID-19 within 15 business days. Note: tenants should submit a signed declaration for each month that they’re unable to pay their full rent. You can find a sample declaration here.

The law doesn’t forgive or cancel missed rent. However, for tenants who qualify, it converts all missed rent accrued from March 1st to August 31st, 2020 to consumer debt. This means that, starting August 1st, 2021, landlords can sue to collect missed rent accrued during that period, but that debt can’t be used to evict the tenant, harm their credit report, or deny them housing at any point in the future.

For missed rent accrued from September 1st, 2020 to June 30th, 2021, the same rules apply. However, in order to qualify, tenants must pay 25% of what they owe from that 10-month period by the end of June 2021. Impacted tenants don’t need to pay a quarter of their rent each month; instead, they can pay a quarter of the total amount due in that period in one lump sum by the end of June 2021. During that time, landlords are prohibited from charging late fees on COVID-related rental debt or selling or assigning it to a collection agency.

In addition, SB 91 established a statewide rental assistance program with $1.5 billion from the federal government, which will be used to help low-income tenants pay down their rental debt. This program will pay down 80% of the rental debt accrued between April 1st, 2020 and March 31st, 2021. In exchange, landlords must forgive the remaining 20%, meaning that the tenant will be debt-free.

However, landlords can refuse to participate. In that case, the tenant will receive a direct payment worth 25% of their rental debt, which will help them qualify for long-term eviction protections. Both tenants and landlords may apply for the funds starting in March. The State will then issue money in three rounds until it’s all gone: 1) households making less than 50% AMI; 2) households making less than 80% AMI and located in areas most impacted by COVID-19; and 3) any remaining households making less than 80% AMI.