As the effects of COVID-19 continue to alter everyday life, including the continued closure of many businesses, San Diego has extended its Eviction Moratorium Order through June. This Order originally became effective March 25, 2020, in response to the growing concerns that many residents and businesses would be unable to pay rent in the coming months due to the pandemic. The act has allowed many tenants to defer rent during the pandemic if they have been affected by COVID-19 and will continue to provide some reprieve to tenants during the month of June.
The Order imposes a temporary moratorium within the City of San Diego on evictions for nonpayment of rent by residential and commercial tenants affected by COVID-19. Persons or businesses wishing to avail themselves of this moratorium must provide their landlords with written notice of their intent to not pay rent either on or before the day rent was due, and must attribute their inability to pay to “financial impacts related to COVID-19.” These financial impacts, when pertaining to an individual, are defined as a substantial decrease in household income due to loss of hours or wages, layoffs, or substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses. For a business, financial impact means a substantial decrease in business income due to closure, loss of compensable hours of work, or layoffs. For these impacts to be related to COVID-19, they must be caused by either the pandemic itself or the governmental response to the pandemic.
Within one week of providing such notice to their landlord, tenants must provide supporting financial documentation, or other objective documentation, to the landlord. This documentation must evidence the financial impacts the tenant is experiencing as a result of COVID-19. If this documentation is not provided, the tenant will not be excused from paying rent on or before the due date for such rent.
While the Order disallows landlords to evict tenants who provide proper notice, it does not excuse the tenant from paying rent for these months. Instead, the Order provides the tenant with up to six months from the date of the Ordinance or the withdrawal of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-28-20 (imposing stay at home requirements and closing all non-essential businesses), whichever occurs sooner, to pay all unpaid rent.
When this Order first became effective, the San Diego Superior Court was shut down, so there could be no challenges to tenants who may be wrongfully taking advantage of the moratorium. However, the San Diego Superior Court reopened for remote proceedings and began accepting filings on May 26, 2020, and thus landlords may begin challenging tenant’s claims to have been financially impacted by COVID-19 such that they could not be evicted under the moratorium. What remains to be seen is how exactly the courts will interpret and enforce this moratorium.
If you need assistance in availing yourself of this moratorium for the month of June (or any subsequent month during which this Order is extended), do not wait to contact us. We can assist you in providing sufficient notice to your landlord and gathering and providing the supporting documentation.