Resources and News for Tenants During the COVID-19 Emergency

Tenant Protections During the COVID-19 Emergency

[Updated 2/24/2021 @ 2:30pm]

Update on SB 91
  • SB 91 offers protections to tenants impact by COVID-19 through June 30, 2021. BayLegal has launched an SB 91 Frequently Asked Questions and Resources page to help tenants and their advocates understand what protections the new law does and does not offer.
  • We have retained our earlier AB 3088 information and resource page to help increase understanding key provisions for tenant protection during the pandemic, most of which have been extended under SB 91.
  • Our partners at the Western Law Center on Law and Poverty and other organizations put together this SB 91 fact sheet, with English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese versions:
First Steps

A number of temporary measures to protect tenants during the public health emergency have been enacted at state, county, and city levels. Making sense of this patchwork of overlapping, sometimes contradictory legislation and policy can be challenging. BayLegal recommends that tenants:

  • Consult our “How-To” guide below, for essential first steps to protect yourself if you are having trouble paying rent during the emergency.
  • Understand some of the essential information about tenant protections during the state of emergency by consulting these two useful Q&A resources:
  • Call our Legal Advice Line at 1-(800) 551-5554, or (if you are an Alameda County resident) our Tenants Rights Line at 1-(888) 382-3405, to speak to an attorney about your housing issue.
How to Protect Yourself If You Can’t Pay Rent On-Time During the Emergency

[En español]     |     [Trong tiếng việt]     |     [用中文(表達]

  • Despite what the headlines say there is NO statewide eviction moratorium.
  • The best way to protect yourself is to pay your rent on time if you can.
  • If you can’t pay your rent because of COVID-19:
    • Tell your landlord in writing as soon as possible, before rent is due. Keep copies of what you send and your landlord’s responses.
    • Take pictures of all documentation that shows you lost income because of COVID-19. These can include:
      • Paystubs
      • Notes from your boss
      • Bank statements
      • Notices that your kids’ school is closed
      • Doctor’s note showing that you had to stay home to care for yourself or someone else
    • Even if you tell your landlord that you can’t pay and give them documentation, your landlord might still give you an eviction notice. If you receive an eviction notice, call Bay Area Legal Aid right away at (800) 551-5554.
    • Different cities have different rules and resources about what you have to do to stay in your home. Call Bay Area Legal Aid at (800) 551-5554 to find out which rules apply to you.
  • Download this information in our printable COVID-19 and Housing Flyer.


Housing Legal Resources

  • Self-Help Eviction Defense Unlawful Detainer Answer Packet. Our self-help packet is designed to help tenants represent themselves in unlawful detainer actions. It has been updated to align with current state law and Judicial Council policy during the pandemic. For advice, please contact our Legal Advice Line at (800) 551-5554.
  • Sample letter from CA tenant to landlord regarding prohibited rent increase: (English)     |     (Spanish)
    • This letter template can be used to inform landlords when they are violating protections against housing price gouging and unlawful evictions during the state of emergency that began March 5, 2020.
  • Resources on the California COVID-19 Rent Relief Program: While extending the state’s pause on evictions through June 30, 2021, California SB 91 also allocates $2.6 billion federal rent assistance. These funds provide financial assistance to income-qualified tenants experiencing housing instabillity, and rent reimbursement to landlords for unpaid rent accrued between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. For an overview of the program, please see the talking points, program flyers, and eligibility checklists developed by LISC (available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog).
  • Resources for unsheltered Alameda County residents during the COVID-19 emergency:
  • Tenants Rights Line: If you are an Alameda County resident facing housing-related legal issues, you can call our dedicated Tenants Right Line at 1-888-382-3405. Hours of availability are:
    • Monday, Thursday, and Friday: 9:30am – 12:30pm
    • Tuesday and Wednesday: 1:00pm – 4:00pm