Tenants suffering pandemic-related hardships who are unable to pay rent in May, June, July or August 2023, may defer their rent obligations from May until September 1. Use resources to ask questions of Rent Board or apply for grants to cover shortfall.
Berkeley renters have temporary pandemic-related protections from eviction through August 31, 2023, with limited exceptions.
Tenants seeking this temporary pandemic protection – which covers rent due May 1 through August 31, 2023 – should provide written notice to their landlords. They should also prepare for September 1, 2023, when they’ll have to pay the remainder or entire rent owed during this period or face eviction.
This written notice should include qualifying reasons, such as sickness, exposure, or caregiving as a result of the COVID-19 virus or financial hardships due to the pandemic.
However, landlords now can evict tenants for three reasons:
- To ensure the health and safety of other residents
- If they have only one residential property in Berkeley, they can perform an “Owner Move-in eviction”
- Failure to pay rent due May 1, 2023 through August 31, 2023, unless the tenant provides documentation for one of the allowed reasons
This period of time is a transition towards ending the Eviction Moratorium, which was in effect March of 2020 through the end of April 2023. During that time, only evictions for health and safety reasons were allowed to proceed.
After this transition period ends on August 31, all state and local eviction protections arising from the pandemic will have expired. State law and the Good Cause provisions of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance will regulate terminations of tenancy and evictions after the Moratorium expires.
Rent Board has resources to help
Learn more about the laws and actions you can take at a webinar from the Berkeley Rent Board, an independent agency that regulates most residential rents and offers tenant protections against unwarranted evictions:
Quickly inform landlord of qualified reason
Through August 31, the allowed pandemic-related reasons to justify an inability to pay rent include — but are not limited to – the following:
- A decrease in income caused by COVID-19 or any government response to COVID-19.
- Material decreases in household income due to caregiving responsibilities, including child care needs arising from school closures.
- Material out-of-pocket medical expenses due to COVID-19.
- A reduction in the number of tenants in a residential unit and difficulty finding new occupants due to COVID-19.
You can use a declaration form created by the Rent Board to send to your landlord. The Rent Board advises that you send this as soon as possible.
However, for rent due during this transition period, the Berkeley Rent Board advises tenants to pay what they can. Tenants should indicate on the memo line of your check that the rent being paid is for that due is for this period, May 1, 2023 through August 31, 2023.
Landlords on September 1, 2023 can evict for failure to pay rent during this transition period, but they cannot evict for failure to pay rent owed prior to May 1, 2023. The memo line is a way to document your intentions for paying rent during this period, a time when rent must be paid by the first of September – regardless of the pandemic reasons that leading to a temporary inability to pay.
If a landlord provides what is commonly referred to as an “eviction notice,” they must inform the tenant that the tenant can submit documentation establishing a COVID-related reason for failure to pay rent.
If your landlord serves you with such a notice, submit this declaration within three days of receiving it.
Any notice to terminate a tenancy must also comply with all existing requirements under Berkeley ordinances.
Apply for local rent relief grants
Any resident who doesn’t pay rent and has COVID-related impacts from May 1, 2023 to August 31, 2023, should apply for all available rental assistance. If you’re facing a hardship in paying rent, contact the Eviction Defense Center at (510) 452-4541 and ask for Eric Magaña or Jose Morales.
To apply for the local rent relief program, you will need to submit several documents, including a copy of your lease agreement, documentation of COVID-19-related hardship, and proof of income. Tenants must also provide proof of residency in Berkeley and documentation of the amount owed in unpaid rent.
The Rent Relief and Housing Retention Grant programs are administered by the Eviction Defense Center and not the City of Berkeley. The eligibility and priority criteria for these programs may change over time so please contact the Eviction Defense Center to learn more.
Know what steps you can take to avoid temporary eviction. Send a letter to your landlord quickly if you are experiencing pandemic-related hardships and cannot pay. Apply for grants to help cover your shortfall.