This information on COVID-19 only applies to San Francisco tenants. If you live outside SF, you should contact Tenants Together at 888-495-8020.
If you are an SF resident with questions about this guide or your rights as a tenant, please contact us by calling one of our counseling lines:
- 415-703-8644 (Mon-Thurs, 1-5pm)
- 415-947-9085 (Mon, Wed, Thurs, and Fri, 9am-noon)
FACING AN EVICTION THREAT?: Know Your Local Protections
San Francisco’s COVID tenant protections expired on August 29, 2023—but you still have rights! Here is a guide to the changes you can expect going forward:
First, you should know that eviction is a legal process, and you still have rights! There are free tenant rights clinics across the city here to help, and all San Francisco tenants facing an eviction are entitled to free legal representation. See the last slide for contact information.
To prepare for the end of SF’s temporary pandemic tenant protections on August 29th, SF tenants struggling to pay rent should note the following changes in the eviction process. →
For rent that came due before or on August 29th:
- Landlords cannot impose late fees for non-payment due to pandemic-related hardship.
- Tenants served with eviction papers for non-payment can use pandemic-related financial hardship as a defense against an Unlawful Detainer in court.
- In court, tenants must show that the debt is due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing documentation such as:
- bank statements
- employment termination notices
- medical bills
- unemployment insurance filings
- child care or elder care bills
- roommate move-out notices
For rent that comes due after August 29th:
- Landlords may resume imposing late fees for non-payment, if this is part of the lease agreement.
- Tenants will no longer be able to use pandemic-related hardship as a legal defense against eviction for non-payment.
You are not alone.
SF tenants facing eviction or landlord harassment can reach out to the organizations below, or visit www.sfadc.org/help for a full list:
- Housing Rights Committee of SF
- 415-703-8644: all tenants
- 415-947-9085: rent control & private market tenants
- SF Tenants Union
If you receive any eviction papers (documents with words like “summons,” “complaint,” or “unlawful detainer”), contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative as soon as possible:
While the state rent relief program is now closed, you can still apply for rent from the SF Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SF ERAP) at SFERAP.com, or by contacting RADCo, a program of the Eviction Defense Collaborative. The RADCo intake number is 415-470-5211.
There are five time periods when you might owe back rent, and the rules for each of them differ.
- August 30th, 2023–present
If you owe rent that came due after August 29th, 2023, landlords may resume imposing late fees for non-payment, if this is part of the lease agreement. Tenants will no longer be able to use pandemic-related hardship as a legal defense against eviction for non-payment.
- July 1, 2022–August 29th, 2023
If you owe rent for the period of July 1, 2022 through August 29th, 2023, you are protected against eviction for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19. Landlords are also prohibited from imposing late fees or penalties on this rent. They can seek to collect this rent in civil court, but cannot evict for it. It will also help you in court if you can show that you wrote to the landlord each month you were unable to pay rent, letting them know of your hardship (see sample letter here in English & Spanish).
- October 1, 2021–June 30, 2022
If you owe rent for this period, your landlord can try to evict you. However, if you applied for rent relief from the state program before March 31 and informed your landlord in writing, that may provide you some protection, unless your application is rejected. State law AB 2179 covers you, but only if you still have a pending application that was filed before April 1, 2022. If you have questions about your pending state application, visit the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief website to check your application status or contact their call center at 833-430-2122.
If you have debt from April 1, 2022 and forward, you should apply to SF ERAP (info above), but your landlord can still seek to collect the rent from you in civil court.
- September 1, 2020–September 30, 2021
If you owe rent for this period, you must, by September 30, 2021 have paid at least 25% of your rent that became due during this period. You must also have sent your landlord the declaration that the pandemic prevented you from paying that rent. You can find the declaration here. This applies especially if you received a 15-day notice to pay or quit. State laws AB 3088, SB 91, and AB 832 protect you for this period.
The remaining 75% of the rent was due by October 31. Your landlord cannot evict you for nonpayment of the 75%. They have to sue you in Small Claims Court.
What if you couldn’t pay 25% of the rent you owed by September 30, 2021? Then the landlord can sue you for eviction in Superior Court. However, if you filed for rent relief from the state, that could help you in the court action. You should have informed the landlord that you filed for the rent relief.
- March 1, 2020–August 31, 2020
If you owe rent for this period, you cannot be evicted for it if you submitted, in a timely fashion, a declaration of hardship to the landlord for each month you couldn’t pay rent. This is true even if you did not pay 25% of the rent due. You still owe that rent, but the landlord must go to Small Claims Court to collect it. San Francisco’s local eviction moratorium covers you.