Your Rights as a Tenant in Los Angeles County

If you can't pay your rent because of COVID-19 financial hardship, or are being threatened with eviction for any reason, do not move out of your home. Only a court can order you to leave. You have rights and are protected by Federal, State and local laws. To understand these laws, please attend one of our workshops (link to workshops page). This page provides a brief summary of the current protections at each level.

State of California

State law says that you can’t be evicted for not paying your rent until July 1, 2021 if you lost income or your expenses increased due to COVID-19. If your landlord wants to evict you for another reason, they need “just cause”. Although this law protects you from being evicted for not paying rent, it does not mean you don’t owe the rent later.

If you owe rent for any months from March 2020 to August 2020, you must submit a declaration form to your landlord for those months. You should do this via regular mail with a proof of mailing and via email. Once you submit a declaration, your landlord cannot legally evict you for not paying rent for those months. If your landlord issues you a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit for those months, you should reply with another declaration.

You should also submit a declaration form to your landlord for any month from September 2020 to June 2021 you can't pay rent in full. It is not too late to submit declarations for past months. You can use one declaration form for any past months that you didn’t pay full rent. For future months, use a separate declaration for each month that you cannot pay the full rent. Send the declaration by your rent due date.

The form must state that you cannot pay your rent because you lost income or have added expenses due to COVID-19. You must also pay at least 25% of the total rent owed, for the months of September 2020 through June 2021. You must pay this 25% by June 30, 2021. To meet this requirement, you can pay 25% each month, or you can make one or more payments by June 30, 2021. When paying rent you must always note on the payment itself which month it is for and your address. For example:

  • 25% of rent for January 2021 for YOUR ADDRESS; OR
  • 25% of rent for the months of September, October, November December 2020 and January 2021 for YOUR ADDRESS.

As long as you do this, your landlord cannot legally evict you. Even if you have been submitting declarations each month, if your landlord issues you a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, you should reply with another declaration. If your landlord files an eviction case against you, you still must respond to the lawsuit!

Starting on August 1, 2021, your landlord can also sue you in small claims court for your unpaid rent.

If you have not made full rent payments for any month since March 2020, your landlord must issue you a “15-day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.” They must also give you a blank copy of the declaration form to return. We recommend that you fill out a declaration and return it by your rent due date each month, even if your landlord doesn’t send you the 15-day notice. Click here for a copy of the declaration form. Even if you have been submitting declarations each month, if your landlord issues you a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, you should reply with another declaration.

While these laws protect you from eviction, it doesn’t mean your landlord won’t still try to evict you. If you receive an eviction lawsuit you must file an answer to the lawsuit! The court won’t know your landlord is violating these laws if you don’t tell it! If you receive a notice of any kind or paperwork from the court, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to!

You should seek legal help immediately if:

  • You get written notice from your landlord other than a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit.
  • You have an eviction lawsuit and have received a summons and complaint.
  • You are facing an illegal lockout and/or an illegal utility termination.
  • Your Section 8 or public housing is being terminated.

We focus on the most urgent requests first, so it may take us a while to get back to you.

Everyone else, please attend a workshop before seeking legal assistance.

Find a Legal Service Provider

The federal government gave money to the State, Los Angeles County and Individual cities for rental assistance.

The rental assistance program:

  • Is open to all individuals no matter your citizenship or immigration status.
  • Is open to households with income below 80% of Los Angeles County's median income. Priority will be given to those with income of 50% or below the county's median.
  • Eligibility is based on a household's monthly income at time of application or income for the 2020 calendar year; and
  • Will prioritize help for households with the highest need.

How will the State Rental Assistance program work?

Landlords may apply to the program. For those that apply:

  • They will be provided direct payments of 80% of the total rent due as long as they agree to forgive the remaining 20%.
  • The State will pay those landlords up to a year of unpaid, past due rent and up to 3 months of future rent.

Tenants may also apply to the program if their landlord chooses not to. Qualified tenants may apply for a 25% payment of all the rent that you owe. This will provide protection from eviction through June 2021 under the rules described above.

Call 833-422-4255 or visit https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/ for more information on the state rental assistance program,

The new law also says your landlord CANNOT:

  • Use tenant security deposits to cover unpaid rent.
  • Charge late fees on missed rent if you qualify for the protections and have sent in all your declarations.
  • Go to small claims court to recover unpaid rent until August 1, 2021.
  • Recover unpaid rent unless they work with qualified tenants to access rental assistance.
  • The State will pay those landlords up to a year of unpaid, past due rent and up to 3 months of future rent.

We are here to help! If you've received a notice from your landlord or are receiving threats or harassment, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to! Sign up for a free workshop to learn more about your rights and resources that can keep you in your home.

Find a Workshop

For immediate legal help you can also call 1-888-694-0040.

Los Angeles County

In addition to the state laws above, local protections may also apply to you. Each case is different and will need to be analyzed ​by an attorney, but generally, if you are a tenant in Unincorporated Los Angeles County, or live in a city that has not enacted its own ​emergency tenant protection ordinance, the following ​ applies:

  1. There are restrictions on:
    1. No-fault evictions, unless based on a nuisance that creates health and safety issues;
    2. Evictions for non-payment of rent for tenants who can't afford to pay because of COVID-19; and
    3. Evictions based on unauthorized occupants, pets, or nuisance related to the pandemic (e.g. if a tenant has to take in a family member or pet and there is more noise as a result.)
    Tenants facing eviction for these reasons have a defense in court. These restrictions took effect March 4, 2020 if you live in unincorporated LA and cities covered by the L.A. County ordinance.
  2. There is a rent freeze on ​residential housing and mobile homes covered by the Los Angeles County Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which applies to multi-family housing built before February 1995 in unincorporated areas of LA Count​y. Any rent increase effective after March 4, 2020 is invalid. Landlords also may not impose new passthroughs (charging tenants to make up the cost of various fees or improvements.)

The Los Angeles County protections are currently in place through February 28, 2021.

To be protected against eviction for not paying rent through January 31, 2021, you must follow state law as outlined above by 1) notifying your landlord that you are experiencing COVID-19 related hardship and cannot pay your rent within 7 days of the rent being due and 2) paying 25% of your rent owed. Click here to download the required statement. If possible, you should accompany your written notification with proof that supports your claim, but it is not required under the law.

The County encourages landlords and tenants to agree to a repayment plan, but we recommend you seek legal help before entering into any such plan. The order explicitly bans landlords and their agents from harassing or intimidating tenants based on these issues.

If you’ve received a notice from the court, or from your landlord, it’s important you immediately connect with a legal service provider who can confirm your rights based on where you live and help you respond to the court notice and keep you in your home.

Find a Legal Service Provider

If you are experiencing threats or harassment, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to! Sign up for a free workshop to learn more about emergency protections and your rights and get connected to resources that can keep you in your home.

Find a Workshop

For immediate legal help you can also call 1-888-694-0040.

For information about L.A. County's Temporary Eviction Moratorium, visit dcba.lacounty.gov/noevictions

Other Cities within the County

You may have more protections depending on where you live.

There are 88 cities in the County of Los Angeles and approximately half have their own protections, including the City of Los Angeles.

Stay Housed L.A. County has your back!

To learn more about your city’s protections, read the Housing Rights Center’s Guide to Covid-19 Tenant Protections.

Attend a workshop!

You can also find out more about your rights by participating in a tenant workshop.

Find a Workshop

If you’ve received a notice from the court, or from your landlord, it’s important you immediately connect with a legal service provider who can confirm your rights based on where you live and help you respond to the court notice and keep you in your home.

Find a Legal Service Provider

For immediate legal help you can also call 1-888-694-0040.

National

On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a federal order that prevents tenants from being evicted for not paying rent or without ​a valid reason (known as "just cause”) that is the fault of the tenant. The CDC Order is currently in effect until March 31, 2020.

Most tenants in Los Angeles County have equal or stronger protections under AB3088, the Los Angeles County protections described above or under their own city protections. Given how difficult it may be to meet the CDC requirements, before applying for protection under the CDC Order you should consult an attorney, as it may not be necessary.

If you’ve received a notice from the court, or from your landlord, it’s important you immediately connect with a legal service provider who can confirm your rights based on where you live and help you respond to the court notice and keep you in your home.

Find a Legal Service Provider

If you are experiencing threats or harassment, do not move out of your home until a court orders you to! Sign up for a free workshop to learn more about emergency protections and your rights and get connected to resources that can keep you in your home.

Find a Workshop

The CARES Act also provides tenant protections, but only to tenants living in Public Housing, other federally subsidized buildings or those who have a Section 8 voucher. It also applies to tenants whose landlords have federally insured mortgages.

For immediate legal help you can also call 1-888-694-0040.

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