Berkeley Enacts Coronavirus Eviction Moratorium
In response to the Coronavirus, the Berkeley City Council passed emergency protections for Berkeley tenants, officially called the COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance, which includes a moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent related to the Coronavirus, Coronavirus related income disruption, or after complying with a government Coronavirus precaution. Codified at Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 13.110, the Berkeley City Council unanimously passed the new law.
Under the Berkeley COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance, landlords cannot evict or attempt to evict a commercial or residential occupant for:
- Nonpayment of rent, where the occupant demonstrates nonpayment is due to the Coronavirus, the Coronavirus state of emergency, or after complying with a government Coronavirus precaution; or,
- No-fault evictions of a residential tenant, except when necessary for the health and safety of tenants, neighbors, or the landlord. Berkeley Municipal Code § 13.110.020.A.
To gain these critical tenant protections, Berkeley tenants who suffer Coronavirus-related income disruption must, in writing, notify their landlords of their income disruption, and resultant inability to pay rent. Berkeley Municipal Code § 13.110.020.B. Further, the tenant must attach documentation of their income disruption or COVID-19 out-of-pocket medical expense, such as a medical bill, paystubs, or letter from an employer indicating that the tenant has suffered reduced hours or lost wages due to the Coronavirus. Id.
Where a landlord knows that a tenant cannot pay all or some of their rent due to the Coronavirus, the Berkeley COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance also prohibits landlords from serving notices to pay rent or quit, initiating a related eviction action in court, or prosecuting said eviction action. Berkeley Municipal Code § 13.110.020.B.
After the Coronavirus state of emergency ceases, a landlord has the right to collect unpaid rent; However, the landlord may not charge or collect a late fee for the unpaid rent.
In passing the Berkeley COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance, Berkeley joins several California cities protecting tenants with similar Coronavirus eviction moratoriums, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Culver City, Stockton, Sacramento, San Diego, Alameda, Burbank, Pasadena, Vallejo, Inglewood, Glendale, El Monte, South Pasadena, Richmond, Emeryville, Ojai, Palo Alto, Clearlake, Palm Springs, Goleta, Santa Ana, San Louis Obispo County, West Sacramento, and Los Angeles.
If you are a Berkeley tenant with questions about your rights under the Berkeley Coronavirus eviction moratorium or have questions about the Berkeley Rent Ordinance, California Rent Control (AB 1482), contact Astanehe Law to speak with a tenant attorney.