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Residential Evictions in California - February 28, 2021 Update

This article provides important updates the California tenant protection act during the COVID-19 pandemic, as of February 2021. For other articles on this subject, visit our blog homepage.

On January 29, 2021, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB-91, a state rental assistance program and extension of the statewide eviction mortarium (under AB-3088, COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act “CTRA”) through June 30, 2021. The law took effect immediately. In sum, landlords may not evict tenants for failure to pay rent if those tenants have delivered to their landlord a declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress within 15 days of being served with a notice to quit based on nonpayment of rent. In addition, certain provisions of the tenant protection laws have been extended through June 30, 2021, and an additional basis for a tenant eviction for “no fault” has been added during the moratorium period. Some provisions of the new law are summarized below.


The broader statutory no-fault just cause reasons for eviction are suspended until July 1, 2021 (and any extensions thereafter). Only the following “NO FAULT” bases for evicting residential tenants are available during the moratorium:

(1) The owner is withdrawing the property from the rental market; (2) The owner intends to demolish or substantially remodel the property. Cosmetic improvements alone do not qualify; (3) The owner, or the owner’s family members intends to occupy the unit PROVIDED the tenant has previously agreed to allow such a termination or if a provision of the lease permits it.

In addition, through June 30, 2021, a landlord may evict if the property is a single-family home or condominium and is in contract to sell to a buyer who will take occupancy.

Note that for all no-fault evictions, the owner must provide timely notice and pay the tenant a one-month relocation fee or waive rent for the final month of the tenancy.

The following “AT-FAULT” bases for eviction still exist during the moratorium:

(1) A default in the payment of rent; (2) A breach of a material term of the lease; (3) Nuisance or unlawful or criminal use of the property; (4) The tenant assigns or sublets the property in violation of the lease/rental; (5) The tenant refuses to allow the owner access; or (6) The tenant refuses to sign an extension/renewal at the expiration of the lease/rental.


When a tenant defaults in paying rent but the tenant timely provides their landlord with the required statutory notice, the tenant cannot be evicted. However, the tenant is still required to pay at least 25% of the total amount of any rent that remained due between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 rental period, by June 30, 2021.

Under SB-91, a landlord must deliver an informational notice to tenants on or before February 28, 2021, when the tenant is in default on any rent payments from March 1, 2020 onwards. (See SB-91).

Financial help to tenants and landlords is hopefully on the way to help address pandemic hardship and housing shortages. SB-91 mandates a new emergency rental assistance program to help renters impacted by COVID-19. The bill also directs billions in federal aid to offset 80% of rent losses to landlords where tenants qualify, and with additional aid available in participating localities.

For more information:

See SB-91 (1/31/2021)

This article is not intended to be legal advice, but is general information only, and has been updated as of February 23, 2021. The law in this area is complex and changing. Note that local ordinances on rent control and just cause evictions will supersede the state’s Tenant Protection Act, when the local laws are more protective of tenants so landlords and tenants facing eviction should check their local ordinances to understand their respective duties and rights, or speak with a qualified attorney. If you need assistance with a residential eviction, please contact an attorney to discuss your specific issue. Crystal Center is a civil attorney in Placerville and handles landlord-tenant issues, among other civil matters, throughout Northern California.

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