Breed puts moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19 outbreak

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Friday March 13, 2020
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San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Photo: Rick Gerharter
San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Photo: Rick Gerharter

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced March 13 a 30-day moratorium on residential evictions related to financial impacts caused by the novel coronavirus.

"The moratorium will prevent any resident from being evicted due to a loss of income related to a business closure, loss of hours or wages, layoffs, or out-of-pocket medical costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," a news release from the mayor's office states. (COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.)

"Under the order, a tenant must notify their landlord that they cannot pay due to a COVID-19 related impact. Within one week of this notice, the tenant must provide documentation or other objective information that they cannot pay rent. Tenants will have up to six months after the termination of the emergency declaration to repay any back due rent," it continues.

The move comes as gay state Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Phil Ting (both D-San Francisco) are working on a halt to foreclosures and evictions in California.

The mayors of San Jose and Sacramento are also working on eviction moratoriums.

Breed's power to declare a moratorium comes from the emergency declaration she made on February 25, and it may be extended another 30 days when the current 30-day period has expired, the release states.

District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston announced March 10 his intention to introduce legislation to the Board of Supervisors for an eviction moratorium.

"We have been working with Supervisor Preston on this, and he's supportive," Breed spokesman Jeff Cretan wrote in an email to the B.A.R.

It is unclear if Preston's legislation will continue to go forward. He did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

Preston has been a longtime tenants rights advocate, having founded the nonprofit Tenants Together in 2008.

Preston's legislation would halt nonpayment evictions related to coronavirus, such as following government guidelines or loss of income due to avoiding work because of a self-quarantine. It would also ban most no-fault evictions, and late fees due to non-collection of rent during this time.

"We, as a city, cannot allow residents to lose their homes unless absolutely necessary," Preston said at a March 10 news conference with other supervisors. "We know as a result of the state of emergency that many people have already experienced income loss and that income loss is almost certain to continue."

Preston said that landlords who need the rent money to prevent foreclosure would be eligible for the Small Business Rent Stabilization Loan that District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen is planning to introduce at the board next week.

To avoid COVID-19, DPH is advising people to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching their faces, cover their coughs and sneezes, try alternatives to the handshake, and stay home if they are sick.

It is not recommended people wear face masks if they are not sick. The greatest risk is from droplets containing the coronavirus on surfaces.

People over 60, those with chronic medical conditions, and those with weakened immune systems are at particular risk if they contract the coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. More serious cases result in pneumonia.