Renters Rights in San Diego County

NBC 7 Responds looked at how cities around the county are trying to protect renters during the coronavirus pandemic

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Millions of people have filed for unemployment in California in the last several weeks. With so many people out of a job, or not earning a paycheck, there are new protections to help renters from being evicted. With so many different policies at the state, county, and city levels, lawyers say it can be confusing.

"There are a number of conflicting moratoriums right now," said Erin Rounds, Managing Attorney at the Tenant's Legal Center. "It's important to understand where you live and what your rights are."

There is a state-wide freeze on evictions because of the pandemic. Even if your city doesn't have a specific plan to help renters, you are still protected by Governor Newsom's executive order.

"There are a lot of conflicting opinions on how long this is going to last, but for now no one can be evicted," Rounds said. "Inform your landlord of the circumstances and provide proof that you cannot pay."

That could be a document showing you or a family member has tested positive for the virus, or a note from an employer. Even though you cannot be evicted, you are still required to pay rent for these months, even if you move out before you have paid the landlord back.

"If you move out before the moratorium expires you will be liable for all the rent you owe at that time," said Rounds.

Some landlords and property managers have even put new policies in place. NBC 7 Responds heard from tenants who had been offered a 10% discount if they could pay April's rent in full, while others were offered a payment plan with a 5% fee added on.

"One thing I'm seeing is a lot of landlords trying to impose late fees on tenants," said Rounds. "They are actually not allowed to do under a lot of these conflicting moratoriums."

So what policies affect you? NBC 7 Responds reached out to cities across the county to see what protections they have in place.

San Diego County
The Board of Supervisors voted to, "protect tenants, homeowners, and small businesses in the unincorporated area that cannot pay rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic with a moratorium on evictions. The county will also work with financial institutions to provide similar protections for those facing foreclosure."

City of San Diego
There is a moratorium on both residential and commercial evictions during this time. You are required to tell your landlord you are unable to pay before rent is due. The city's moratorium also prohibits landlords from charging late fees if you show financial hardship due to the coronavirus.

City of San Marcos
There is a temporary moratorium in place on both residential and commercial evictions if you can show proof of financial hardship because of the coronavirus to your landlord. If your contract says a fee will be charged if your rent is late, your landlord can still collect the late fee when you pay back your rent.

You can read more on their website, here.

City of Escondido
The city has temporarily frozen both residential and commercial evictions that are caused by coronavirus-related financial hardships. The moratorium prohibits landlords from collecting late fees on these payments but does allow for rental agreements and leases to be renegotiated.

There is an FAQ page available here in English and here in Spanish.

City of Oceanside
The city of oceanside has frozen "evictions for both commercial and residential tenants in the City."   The city has also voted to defer rent paid directly to the city, such as the rent on harbor slips. You can read more about the city's freeze on evictions here and about the deferment of rent on city-owned property here.

City of Carlsbad
The city has temporarily suspended "evictions of commercial tenants who can’t pay rent due to the COVID-19 public health emergency."

"To qualify, a commercial tenant must have been current on rent when the statewide emergency was declared on March 4 and notify the landlord in writing prior to rent being due or up to 10 business days after. The tenant also must be able to prove that the inability to pay is related to the COVID-19 emergency’s effect on the tenant’s business. The tenant will still be responsible for paying the back rent plus any late fees. The suspension of evictions will remain in effect until the end of the COVID-19 emergency."

You can read more about the city's moratorium here.

Several cities had not gotten back to NBC 7 Responds by the time this article was published.

Remember, even if your city doesn't have its own moratorium on evictions, you are still protected by the state-wide executive order. You can read more about Gov. Newsom's order here. If you think you need legal help, you can reach the Tenant's Legal Center here.

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