On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic. On March 15th, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti issued an Emergency Order which implemented measures to protect the public and contain the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, on March 23rd the Mayor issued a temporary moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ordinance No.186585 effective March 31, 2020, provided additional protections and effective May 12, 2020, Ordinance No. 186606, further expanded tenants protections during the local emergency in response to COVID-19. Together, these actions are designed to prevent unnecessary housing displacement and to prevent housed individuals from falling into homelessness.
Tenants facing eviction have an affirmative defense if the proposed eviction is for non-payment of rent and the tenant’s inability to pay rent results from circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency. Tenants or their attorneys can raise the existence of this moratorium as a defense in an Unlawful Detainer action. Tenants and their attorneys may argue that they are an Affected Tenant by providing documentation to the Landlord that they have lost substantial income.
Tenants should notify their landlord of their inability to pay the full rent before the due date. The Governor’s Order indicates a tenant must notify their landlord in writing before rent is due or within 7 days after the rent due date. The L.A. City Ordinance does not require tenants to provide their landlord notice or documentation if unable to pay rent due to COVID-19, but tenants should keep documentation in the event of a court action.
HCIDLA Administrative Process
Additionally, the Los Angeles Housing + Community Development Department (HCIDLA) will intake tenant complaints and inform both landlords and tenants of the requirements of the renter protections. HCIDLA will conduct an investigation similar to the existing process for enforcement of tenant protections under the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO).
Eviction complaints can be filed:
Electronically at: hcidla.lacity.org/File-a-Complaint
Telephone Hotline at (866) 557-7368.
Complaints will be assigned to a Housing Investigator, who will investigate the tenant’s claim and advise the landlord and tenant of their findings
On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council, which oversees California’s court system, enacted emergency rules to suspend court action on all eviction cases, except to protect public health and safety. While the Judicial Council emergency rules do not prevent a landlord from filing an unlawful detainer complaint in court, the rules prevent the issuance of a summons or default judgment. Even if the Judicial Council rescinds its emergency rules, the City’s COVID-19 tenant protection ordinances remain in place.
The Renter Protections apply to all residential and commercial rentals in the City of Los Angeles, including apartments, duplexes, condominiums and single-family dwellings. The protection applies to all renters, regardless of immigration status.
Tenants are still obligated to pay lawfully charged rent. However, during the emergency period, tenants may not be evicted for failure to pay rent due to the financial impacts related to COVID-19. Tenants will have up to 12 months following the expiration of the local emergency to repay any back rent due. Landlords and tenants may mutually work out a payment schedule or arrangements for repayment of rent.
The City is reviewing options for a rental assistance program. At the moment there is no rental assistance available. If and when rental assistance becomes available, updates and information on how to apply will be posted.
A “No-Fault” eviction is one which is not based on any fault or action of the tenant. Examples of “no-fault” evictions include evictions when the landlord or his family intend to move into the unit or when the landlord wishes to withdraw the rental unit from the housing market. These evictions are not allowed during the Emergency Declaration.
Additionally, evictions are not allowed during the Emergency Declaration, if the reason for the eviction is that the landlord wants to withdraw the unit from the rental housing market (“Ellis”).
A tenant “at-fault” eviction is one based on the tenant’s actions in violation of the lease or rental agreement, such as failure to pay rent, causing a nuisance, using the rental unit for an illegal purpose, or a breach of a provision of the lease.
Evictions for non-payment of rent are not allowed through the Emergency Declaration, if the tenant’s inability to pay the full rent is due to circumstances related to COVID-19 as described above. Evictions are also not allowed for having additional occupants, pets, or nuisance as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.
If you are unable to pay your full rent because of circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, here is what you should do:
If your claim is supported, the Housing Investigator will send a letter to the landlord requesting cancellation of the “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.”
A landlord may not use self-help to evict a tenant. Lockouts and utility shut offs are illegal. Self-help includes removing or destroying the tenant’s possessions, or other similar harassing behaviors that seek to “evict” a tenant. If a landlord does these things, they could be liable to their tenant for damages.
Tenants do not have to leave their units unless they are served with a Sheriff’s Order, which happens after the case is heard in Court. Currently, California Courts have agreed to stop hearing all eviction cases, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID‐19 emergency. The rule is applicable to all courts and to all eviction cases and will apply until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID‐19 pandemic.
It is important to seek legal assistance in responding to harassment and eviction. Legal referrals may be found by clicking here.
Tenants should immediately inform their landlord that they cannot pay their rent or cannot pay their rent in full due to a loss of income arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. If the landlord does not withdraw the eviction notice, tenants should immediately file a complaint with HCIDLA at hcidla.lacity.org/File-a-Complaint or by calling 866-557-RENT (866-557-7368) between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or 10:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Do not ignore a notice from the Court or Unlawful Detainer notification!”Tenants do not have to leave their units unless they are served with a Sheriff’s Order, which happens after the case is heard in Court.
The COVID-19 Renter Protections are in effect from the date of the declaration of the emergency on March 4, 2020, through the expiration of the emergency. Ellis evictions are disallowed for 60 days after the end of the emergency declaration.
City of Los Angeles: FamilySource Center
LA County’s Department of Social Services: Your Benefits
California Coronavirus COVID-19 Get Financial Help
US Small Business Administration (SBA): Disaster Loan Assistance
LA County’s Disaster Help Center: Tenant & Landlord Resources
LA County’s Treasury and Tax Collector: Tax Penalty Cancellation Request
Tenants are still obligated to pay lawfully charged rent
Action / process related to this protections may change, and will be updated accordingly.
City Ordinance: Temporary Protection of Tenants During COVID-19 Pandemic –