County and City Eviction Moratoriums in Light of COVID-19

By Ashley Peterson
Law Office of Ashley M. Peterson

On March 16, 2020, California Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-28-20 as updated on March 27, 2020 Executive Order N-37-20. This Order suspended any provision of state law that would preempt or otherwise restrict a local government from imposing limitations on residential and commercial evictions on the basis of non-payment of rent due to financial hardship from a substantial decrease in household or business income, or due to substantial out of pocket medical expenses caused by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020. This Executive Order effectively put the burden on individual cities to enact their own emergency ordinances to temporarily restrict evictions during the time frame of the order. This means that landlords will be required to carefully review the applicable county or city ordinance for each location in which they own property in order to determine how to proceed with regards to tenant evictions, since every county and city ordinance could be slightly different.


On March 25, 2020, the City of San Diego passed emergency Ordinance Number 21177 which implemented a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions due to non-payment of rent arising out of a substantial decrease in income or substantial out of pocket medical expenses due to the Corona Virus.  In the City of San Diego, if a tenant provides written (email, text, or letter) notice to the landlord on or after March 12, 2020 stating that they cannot pay rent due to substantial financial impacts directly related to COVID-19 (ie/ loss of job, business closure, loss of wages, loss of job, etc.), the landlord cannot evict that tenant, send 3 day pay or quit notices, or charge late fees between March 12, 2020 through May 31, 2020. Under the 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 notice that they can’t pay. Documentation the tenant can provide includes any of the following: (i) employer termination notice, (ii) payroll checks, (iii) pay stubs, (iv) bank statements, (iv) medical bills, (v) signed letters or statements from an employer or supervisor explaining tenant’s changed financial circumstances, (vi) or gross sales statements or certified profit/loss statements for commercial tenants. 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 they do not pay rent when due. If however, a tenant timely complies with the written notice and documentation requirements of the ordinance, the tenant shall have up to 6 months from March 25, 2020 to pay back the unpaid rent to the landlord. 


On March 24, 2020, the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Diego passed a Resolution temporarily halting all commercial and residential evictions in the unincorporated areas of the County. If the tenant provides written notice to the landlord within 15 days of the date rent is due (starting on or after March 4, 2020) or by April 8, whichever is later, that the tenant is experiencing financial hardship directly related to COVID-19 and cannot pay rent, the tenant cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent through May 31, 2020. The tenant then has 14 days from the date of the notice to provide documentation to the landlord in support of the tenant’s financial hardship situation. If the tenant fails to provide supporting documentation in this 14 day period, the landlord can proceed with eviction due to non-payment of rent. A tenant who timely provides the information above is given up to 3 months (from June 1, 2020) to repay the deferred rent. The County grants the tenant the right to submit an additional request with supporting documentation to the landlord, for a one month extension on repayment. This means the tenant would get up to 4 months from June 1, 2020 to repay the deferred rent and the landlord would be required to permit this extension. Any extension request beyond the 4 month repayment period is up to the landlord’s discretion. The landlord cannot charge late fees from March 4, 2020 through May 31, 2020.

It is important to point out that the monthly rent due by the tenant is NOT WAIVED under either ordinance, it is just deferred. This means the commercial and residential tenant is still responsible for payment of rent during this time, but the landlord is just restricted from being able to evict for such non-payment during the period of the ordinance. It would be wise for landlords to keep open lines of communication with their tenants to discuss repayment plan options for deferred or partial rent, and to enter into written lease amendments for any agreed upon re-payment plan to contractually lay out the dates for repayment.

Other Cities in the County of San Diego that have enacted eviction moratoriums which are not addressed in this article:

City of Chula Vista – Enacted 3/17/2020

City of Oceanside – Enacted 3/26/2020

City of La Mesa – Enacted 3/17/2020