Tenant Resources

The Fair Housing Council of Riverside County is here to help families and individuals understand their tenant rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 crisis. If you have questions about any of the information in this document or if you need free assistance working with your landlord, please call 800-655-1812 to work with one of our counselors.

It is important that you call your landlord or property manager as soon as possible if you have lost wages or your job due to COVID-19 and are unable to make your monthly payment. It can be overwhelming to understand local, state and federal rules regarding eviction moratoriums and payment plans, so we have compiled a guide using communications from the federal government, the State of California, and local governments to help you navigate the process.

What Rent Relief Options are Available?

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Eviction moratoriums are only meant to protect tenants from losing their housing due to loss of income as a result of COVID-19. This does not mean tenants don’t have to pay their rent. Payment plans will need to be worked out on a case by case basis, using realistic terms and ability to pay as the deciding factors in how much rent should be reduced and the time available to repay past due balances.

Payment plans
Landlords should understand that many people are in a difficult economic situation due to COVID-19, and there are several options available to property owners to delay their mortgage payments on their rental properties without penalty. While this relief should allow landlords to extend relief to their tenants, tenants must make an effort to pay as much of their rent as possible in order to avoid a debt that is difficult to pay over the long term.

Payment plans between tenants and landlords will vary depending on each situation, and generally require that any skipped payments are caught up at the end of the agreed upon period in full. Depending on local ordinances (see list below), landlords likely must offer a payment plan to catch up over time at the end of the COVID-19 crisis. Late fees and negative credit reports are also generally suspended during this period, though local regulations vary.

Who is Covered by Federal, State and Local Eviction Moratoriums?

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Federal Restrictions (Source: NHLP, March 28, 2019)

The federal CARES Act restricts new eviction actions related to nonpayment of rent for 120 days after March 27, 2020. It also prohibits late fees or other penalties related to nonpayment of rent during the period, and tenants may not be evicted after the moratorium without a written 30 day notice. The federal eviction moratorium does not apply to cases that were filed before the moratorium took effect or where the eviction is based on a reason besides nonpayment of rent or other fees and charges. These restrictions apply to the following types of federal housing and programs:

  • Public housing (42 U.S.C. § 1437d)
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program (42 U.S.C. § 1437f)
  • Section 8 project-based housing (42 U.S.C. § 1437f)
  • Section 202 housing for the elderly (12 U.S.C. § 1701q)3
  • Section 811 housing for people with disabilities (42 U.S.C. § 8013)
  • Section 236 multifamily rental housing (12 U.S.C. § 1715z–1)
  • Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR) housing (12 U.S.C. § 17151(d))
  • HOME (42 U.S.C. § 12741 et seq.)
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) (42 U.S.C. § 12901, et seq.)
  • McKinney-Vento Act homelessness programs (42 U.S.C. § 11360, et seq.)
  • Section 515 Rural Rental Housing (42 U.S.C. § 1485)
  • Sections 514 and 516 Farm Labor Housing (42 U.S.C. §§ 1484, 1486)
  • Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants (42 U.S.C. § 1490m)
  • Section 538 multifamily rental housing (42 U.S.C. § 1490p-2)
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) (26 U.S.C. § 42)
  • Rural Housing Voucher Program
  • Properties with federally backed mortgage loans, including HUD, VA, USDA or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

If you are unsure if your housing is funded by the sources listed above, ask your landlord or property manager. If you encounter difficulty in finding the information you need after reaching out to your landlord or property managers, call one of our housing counselors at 800-655-1812.

State Restrictions 

The executive order issued by Governor Newsom on March 27, 2020, is not an eviction moratorium, rather a 60-day extension to the period of time a tenant has to respond to an eviction notice if they meet the following criteria:

  1. The tenant has lost income due to COVID-19;
  2. The tenant has notified the landlord within a reasonable time period, not longer than 7 days after the due date of the rent; and
  3. The tenant retains documentation of the COVID-19 related loss of income.

This order does not prevent landlords from issuing eviction notices or filing eviction actions against tenants in court. The restrictions in this order do not supersede local restrictions that have been passed. Emergency rules adopted by the state Judicial Council offer greater protection for tenants against eviction beyond the Governor’s order.

Judicial Council rules (Source: Western Center on Law & Poverty, April 6, 2020)

The Judicial Council of the State of California issued an emergency rule on April 6, 2020, stopping all eviction cases during the COVID-19 crisis. These rules apply regardless of the reason for eviction, with the only exception being in cases of threat to public health or safety. These rules apply to all courts in the State of California.

  • Courts are prohibited from issuing a summons after a landlord files an eviction case, and the time for the tenant to respond does not begin until the rules are lifted after the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency orders
  • Courts are prohibited from entering automatic default judgments due to non-response of the tenant
  • Courts are prohibited from setting an in-progress eviction case for trial earlier than 60 days after a trial is requested, and any trial for eviction scheduled as of April must be postponed for at least 60 days after the initial trial date

Many of the same protections are in place for foreclosure, so landlords that are unable to make mortgage payments due to renter hardship will not face foreclosure during the COVID-19 crisis.

What has my Local Government Passed in Relation to Eviction Moratoriums
or COVID-19 Relief for Renters?

What Will Landlords do if Their Tenants Aren’t Paying Rent and
They Can’t Afford to Pay the Mortgage?

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Please refer to our resource page for homeowners. Federal mortgage servicers, including for multi-family residential loans, are required to provide forbearance and extended repayment terms for property owners that are experiencing a loss of income due to COVID-19.

Servicers of federally backed mortgages may not initiate any judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process, move for a foreclosure judgment or order of sale, or execute a foreclosure-related eviction or foreclosure sale for not less than the 60-day period beginning on March 18, 2020.

If you have questions about your specific loan, please call your loan servicer. If you need help navigating these processes, Fair Housing Council of Riverside County counselors are here to provide guidance and resources at 800-655-1812 or fhcrc@fairhousing.net.

What Should Tenants Do if They Can’t Pay Rent Due to COVID-19?

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Call your landlord or property manager
Be prepared with the following information and questions you want to ask. Have your account number handy if applicable. Explain your situation and the loss of income that you are experiencing due to COVID-19.

Before you call

  • Calculate the amount that you can afford to pay based on your current situation rather than simply calling and telling your landlord you can’t pay at all.
  • Use the 30% rule; housing should cost 30% of your income, so calculate your reduced income amount and be prepared to pay that amount until your situation changes or your employment is restored.
  • Remember that anything you don’t pay now, you will owe later.

Questions to ask

  • What options are available to temporarily reduce or suspend my payments?
  • Can you waive late fees?

Put it in writing
You should submit your request to your landlord or property manager in writing, here are some templates:

Get it in writing
Once you’re able to explain your situation, ask your landlord to provide written documentation that confirms the details of your agreement and that you’re clear on what the terms are. Make sure you’re familiar with the final terms.

If your landlord is unwilling to work with you or is trying to evict you despite federal legislation, local ordinances or state laws preventing eviction in your circumstances, the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County is here to help you. Please call 800-655-1812 to work with one of our counselors.

What if My Landlord Locks Me Out or Disconnects My Utilities?

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It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks on a unit to force a resident out. It is also illegal for a landlord to disconnect utilities or modify living conditions in other ways in an effort to force a resident out. 
Tenants should contact legal assistance and or police in these cases. If you are seeking legal advice or assistance, please contact Inland Counties Legal Services, Inc. or Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association.