The City of Alameda adopted an emergency ordinance establishing that tenants cannot be evicted for not paying rent, if their inability to pay rent was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the ordinance prohibits landlords from shutting off tenants’ utilities. The ordinance is in effect until May 16, 2020.
The FAQs below provide more information about the ordinance and who is protected.
1. Is this emergency ordinance a moratorium on evictions?
No: the emergency ordinance does NOT prevent your landlord from evicting you, if you are a tenant.
If you do not pay rent, your landlord can still try to evict you for non-payment. However, if you go to court for your eviction case, and you can show the judge that you did not pay rent because you lost income because of COVID-19, the judge may stop your landlord from evicting you.
Your landlord can still evict you for other reasons, like violating a term of your lease or creating a nuisance on the property.
2. How do I show that I couldn’t pay my rent because of COVID-19?
To show that you couldn’t pay rent because of COVID-19, you must be able to demonstrate one of the following:
- Your monthly pay decreased by 20% or more, when compared to your average monthly pay during 2019, because of the impact of COVID-19. (For example, if your hours were cut because of COVID-19, or if your workplace closed because of the shelter-in-place order.)
- You had to pay extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses related to COVID-19. (For example, if you or a family member has COVID-19, and you need to pay for the extra medical costs.)
- You have extraordinary childcare needs arising from school or childcare closures because of COVID-19. COVID-19. (For example, if your child cannot go to school and you have to take time off work to look after them.)
If your landlord tries to evict you for not paying rent, you will have to show a judge that you could not pay because of COVID-19. So, save all documents that show how COVID-19 has impacted you: for example, letters from your children’s school or daycare explaining that they closed because of COVID-19; communication with your boss that show they cut your hours, closed their business, or fired you because of COVID-19; or records of medical bills relating to COVID-19.
3. I lost my job because my work closed due to COVID-19, and I cannot pay rent now because I have no income. If my landlord tries to evict me, can I use COVID-19 as a defense?
Yes: this is exactly the type of situation this ordinance was enacted to protect against. If you lost your job, had your hours reduced, had to take time off work to self-quarantine or care for a household or family member with COVID-19, or had to take time off to provide childcare, because of COVID-19, you can bring this up if your landlord tries to evict you for nonpayment.
4. Do I still have to pay rent?
If you are able to pay rent, continue to do so.
Again, the ordinance does not prohibit landlords from evicting tenants, but just gives tenants who are being evicted for non-payment an additional defense.
5. Will I have to pay that rent back, ever?
Yes. You still owe that money to your landlord, they just can’t collect if from you right now if you are unable to pay due to a reason related to COVID-19.
6. How long does the ordinance last?
Currently, it will last for 60 days, until May 16, 2020.
However, the City of Alameda may extend this ordinance if we are still in a state of local emergency in mid-May.
7. I was served a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit before March 17. Does the ordinance still impact me?
Yes, as long as you were served the Notice to Pay Rent or Quit on or after March 1, 2020, and the reason you could not pay your rent is related to COVID-19.
8. If I cannot pay for utilities because I’ve lost my job, will my landlord shut off utilities?
No: as long as the ordinance is in place, landlords cannot shut off your utilities.
The only exception is if there are emergency circumstances, such as a water or gas leak, where shutting off utilities is necessary for safety reasons.
If your landlord shuts off your utilities and there is not an emergency, your landlord is violating the ordinance.