In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Office of Governor and the City of San Diego have each recently passed authority which will impact many landlords and tenants today, April 1, 2020.
On March 25, 2020, the City of San Diego passed Ordinance Number 21177 which placed a moratorium on evictions (both residential and commercial) on the basis of non-payment of rent, if such non-payment is a result of a substantial decrease in the tenant’s income or a result of the tenant incurring substantial out of pocket medical expenses due to COVID-19. The San Diego Ordinance provides that if a tenant declares in writing, on or before the date the tenant’s rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID -19, then the landlord cannot evict that tenant or charge late fees between March 12, 2020 through May 31, 2020. Thus, if a tenant in San Diego is required to pay rent on April 1, 2020, then according to the San Diego Ordinance, the tenant must provide the non-payment notice to its landlord, today. The tenant may send the non-payment notice to the landlord by letter, email or text message. Under the San Diego Ordinance, the tenant is required to provide documentation to the landlord to prove they are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts of COVID -19 within one week of sending the above non-payment notice. If the tenant fails to provide this evidence to the landlord within this 7 day period, the landlord is permitted to move forward with evicting the tenant. If a tenant timely complies with the written notice and documentation requirements of the San Diego Ordinance, the tenant will have up to 6 months from March 25, 2020 to pay back the unpaid rent to the landlord. The San Diego Ordinance provides a sample list of applicable financial impacts of COVID-19 including loss of job, business closure, loss of wages, etc.
On March 27, 2020, Governor Newsom expanded his original Executive Order N-28-20 regarding evictions. The new Executive Order N-37-20 bans evictions for residential renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020. The new Executive Order prohibits landlords from evicting residential tenants for non-payment of rent. It also requires tenants declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19. Unlike the San Diego Ordinance discussed above the new Executive Order provides that a tenant would have until April 8, 2020 to provide notice of non-payment to its landlord for rent that is otherwise due on April 1, 2020. Under the new Executive Order, the tenant is required to retain documentation that proves the tenant is unable to pay rent due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, but the tenant is not required to submit it to the landlord in advance (instead, it must be submitted to landlord at the time back rent is paid). The new Executive Order provides that the tenant remains obligated to repay full rent in a timely manner and could still face eviction after the enforcement moratorium is lifted.
As highlighted above, the San Diego Ordinance is more onerous than the California Executive Order in both the timing of notification for non-payment of rent as well as the timing of providing the supporting financial documentation to the landlord. As a result, we may see more guidance on this point, but at this time San Diego landlords and tenants should follow the San Diego Ordinance provisions.
The attorneys at Higgs Fletcher & Mack are here to help both tenants and landlords comply with the state and local requirements. Please contact us for further guidance.