COVID-19: Information for Tenants & Landlords
Information about the City of Berkeley’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium, state rental assistance, and more.
Berkeley’s eviction moratorium is still in effect! City Council has declared a local state of emergency with no expiration date set as of yet. So long as the state of emergency is declared, Berkeley's eviction moratorium remains in effect. In addition, on April 30, 2022, the Alameda County Superior Court adopted Local Rule 1.8.1. This rule prohibits the filing of any eviction lawsuit unless the landlord alleges that the eviction is permitted under any local ordinance and is necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents or any other permitted exception.
Page last updated September 20, 2022. Visit our Rent Board Services During COVID-19 page for the latest information on office hours and services, including the availability of in-person services.
COVID-19 Related Eviction Protections
Resources for Berkeley landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities under state and local laws:
- COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Resources for Berkeley Tenants and Landlords
- Tenant Notice of Inability to Pay Rent
Resources from the State of California about the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act:
- California Department of Real Estate: Tenant Protection Guidelines
- California Department of Real Estate: FAQs: COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act
Berkeley landlords: The sample 15-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit available from the state must be modified to include Berkeley-specific eviction requirements
Rent Relief: State rent relief funding was limited, and Alameda County Housing Secure, the county program administering state funds, is no longer accepting new rent relief applications. If you've already applied, you can check the status of your application on the Alameda County Housing Secure website.
Local rent relief funds are available! Although Alameda Housing Secure is no longer taking applications for rent relief, the Eviction Defense Center (EDC) has funding from the City of Berkeley to assist Berkeley tenants with rent relief due to Covid-19 or other circumstances. Please contact the EDC at (510) 452-4541 and ask for Eric Magaña or Jose Morales.
City Ordinance No. 7,720-N.S. allows tenants to end leases early without penalties for COVID-19 related financial reasons, or if the tenants are students at a school that has canceled or limited in-person classes. This right does not end any liability under state law, particularly Civil Code Section 1951.2, but tenants may negotiate with their landlords to end liabilities.
Under Regulation 1013(A)(2), reduced, free, or discounted rent must be factored into the base rent ceiling for a new tenancy. For example, if a landlord and tenant agree to a rent of $2,000 per month for a new tenancy with a 12-month term, but the tenant receives one month of free rent, the base rent ceiling for the unit would be $1,833.33, which is the average of the monthly rent payments made for the initial lease term ($22,000/12 months). Therefore, in this example, for the month following the expiration of the initial lease term, the maximum rent the landlord could charge would be $1,833.33.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the elected Rent Board created one exception to this rule. For tenancies that began on or before September 1, 2020, landlords and tenants could agree in writing to a reduced rental amount without affecting the base rent ceiling for the unit. There are specific requirements for these agreements. See below.
- Emergency Regulation 1017.5: Agreements for discounted rent made during the COVID-19 state of emergency
- Template: Agreements for discounted rent made during the COVID-19 state of emergency pursuant to emergency regulation 1017.5
You can check the rent ceiling we have on record for your unit in our rent registry. See our Unit Information Lookup page to learn how. If you received free, discounted, or reduced rent during the initial term of your tenancy and have questions about your rent ceiling, please contact us.
Some landlords are making discounted rent offers that may be confusing even if they are legal. For example, some offers state that you can exit the lease at any time without paying a penalty. This does not necessarily mean your responsibility to pay rent stops in cases where the landlord is unable to re-rent the unit right away. Relevant state and local law would still apply to these scenarios, and the landlord may still bring a claim for unpaid rent. It’s important to clearly understand what you are agreeing to before accepting the terms of a lease agreement. While sometimes only the landlord can clarify what a proposed lease term means, we can help identify issues associated with a discounted rent offer so that you can ask the right questions.
Other resources & information
- City of Berkeley COVID-19 housing retention grants
- City of Berkeley Health Officer orders
- California Department of Real Estate: Landlord Resources
- California Penal Code §396: Anti-Price Gouging During Emergencies
- Alameda County Housing Secure
Questions about COVID-19 and rental housing? Speak with a housing counselor!
- East Bay Community Law Center: (510) 548-4040
- Eviction Defense Center: (510) 452-4541
- CAL Students - Student Legal Services