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 September 30, 2021, the Alameda County Superior Court amended its Emergency Rule 1.8a. This rule prohibits the filing of any eviction lawsuit unless the landlord alleges that the eviction is permitted under any local ordinance and/or is necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents or any other permitted exception.
Page last updated March 31, 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:
- UPDATED! 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
Tenants: If you receive an eviction notice for non-payment of rent any time after October 1, 2021, you may still be eligible for additional eviction protections as long as you apply for rent relief within 15 days of receiving the notice. California still has significant rent relief funds available for you, and it's not too late to file an application.
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 - Emergency Rental Assistance
- Alameda County Housing Secure - Tenant Checklist
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