What is the Tenant Protection Act
The Tenant Protection Act (Assembly Bill 1482) takes effect January 1, 2020 providing unprecedented new protections for a majority of California renters. The law was sponsored by a broad coalition of tenant advocates across the state.
Under the Tenant Protection Act, eligible renters are covered in two major ways:
- Renters are protected from unjust evictions
- Renters are protected against unfair rent increases
Protections from Unjust EvictionsAs per Senate Bill 91 (SB 91), the eviction protections in AB 1482 are extended to all tenants in California until June 30, 2021. SB 91 also temporarily changes some of the just causes for eviction in AB 1482. See below for more information.
Under the Tenant Protection Act, eligible renters are protected from unjust evictions. This means your landlord must have a valid reason for evicting you as outlined below:
At Fault (Click for details)
- Failure to pay rent.
- Breach of a material term of a lease that continues after a written notice of the right to cure. The written notice must provide at least three days to cure. If the tenant does not cure, then a non-curable notice of termination may be served.
- Maintaining, committing, or permitting a nuisance.
- Destruction of property or creating a nuisance.
- Failure to sign a lease with similar terms after the expiration of a lease.
- Criminal activity on the property, or criminal activity or criminal threat directed at an owner or manager of the property.
- Assigning and subletting in violation of the lease.
- Refusal to provide the owner access to the unit.
- Using the premises for an illegal purpose.
- Failure of a licensee, agent or employee of the landlord to vacate after termination of the relationship.
- Failure of a tenant to deliver possession after the tenant gives a notice to move out or after the landlord and tenant agree in writing that the tenant will vacate.
Not At Fault (Click for details)
- Owner or relative move in only where the original lease or a new lease allows for an owner or relative to move in. The eviction must be done by an owner or the owner’s spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents. The original lease or new lease must reserve the right to move in an owner or the owner’s spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents. [Until June 30, 2021, tenants who were not previously protected by AB 1482 can additionally be evicted if the current landlord has entered into a contract for sale with a buyer who intended to live in the unit.]
- Withdrawal of the unit from the rental market.
- Where a city or county agency requires the unit to be vacated due to uninhabitable conditions.
- Intent to demolish or substantially remodel a unit. “Substantially remodel” means the replacement or substantial modification of any structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical system that requires a permit, or the abatement of hazardous material, including lead, mold or asbestos that cannot be reasonably accomplished in a safe manner with the tenant in the unit and that requires the tenant to vacate for more than thirty days. Cosmetic improvements alone, including painting, decorating, and minor repairs, do not qualify, nor does any work that can be done safely with the tenant in the unit. [Until June 30, 2021, the demolition or substantial remodel must be for the purpose of complying with health and safety laws or regulations.]
Emergency Eviction Protections
Until June 30, 2021, if a landlord brings an eviction case against a tenant for a reason other than nonpayment of rent, the landlord will not receive a court judgment for unpaid rent debt. This does not prevent a landlord from suing to recover the rent debt in a different case, like in small claims court.
Protections Against Unfair Rent Increases
Eligible renters are protected against rent increases that exceed 10% in a one year period or the cost of living + 5%, whichever is lower. This is often referred to as a “rent-cap” because it caps the amount your landlord can legally increase your rent year after year.
If you’re unsure if your rent increase exceeds the limit set by the law, our rent calculator can help you do the math.
COVID-19 Tenant Protections
Senate Bill (SB) 91, passed on January 28, 2021, extended eviction protections for tenants who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rent debt owed between March 2020 through June 30, 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.
Meanwhile, rent assistance is available for tenants to apply for to cover their rent debts during the pandemic. If a tenant receives rent assistance, it may cancel out all debts and they may no longer be at risk of eviction or any kind of collections actions.
Is the Rent Cancelled?
Sort of. SB 91 created a rental assistance program for tenants under a certain income amount.
In most areas, landlords participate in the rental assistance program and if they agree to waive 20% of the rent owed, the government program will pay the other 80% of the money owed. If they do, then the tenant’s consumer debt for that period will be gone. This means that rent debt you owe could be entirely cancelled if your landlord agrees to participate in the rent relief program. You can also apply for help paying your utilities.
If the landlord refuses the program, a tenant will be able to apply to the same fund for 25% of the rent they owe.
This program may be extended to offer a larger amount of rent assistance and apply it for a longer period of time.
How to Apply for Rental Assistance
You may qualify for rent relief funds if you owe rent that you could not pay during the COVID-19 pandemic, from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. A full list of eligibility criteria is available at https://housing.ca.gov/.
Apply online! The application will ask for your landlord’s email address to notify your landlord to fill out their portion. Both landlords and tenants can fill out the rent relief application here.
If you live in a city or county that has its own separate rent assistance program, you can apply for rent relief from your local program rather than the state site. A link to your local program is available here. Some of these local programs have different terms, such as covering 100% of the rental debt or lower income thresholds.
COVID-19 Eviction Protections1. Tenants must provide a signed declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress
If you can’t pay your rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic ,before filing an eviction lawsuit for failure to pay rent. your landlord must give you a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit The notice will include a hardship declaration form to fill out.
If you receive a 15-day notice, within 15 days you must give your landlord the signed hardship declaration.
Even if you have not received a 15-day notice, it is a good idea to give your landlord a copy of the declaration if it applies to you. You should still give it to your landlord again if you receive an eviction notice.
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.
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 rent 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, including the 25% payment.
State law protects tenants from “no cause” evictions until July 1, 2021 by extending the eviction protections in AB 1482.
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.