Covid Relief Act




The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act – SB91 (Act) was signed into law January 29, 2021. The Act extends eviction protections to COVID-19 impacted tenants and establishes the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.


The Act extends tenant protections included in the Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 (AB 3088) to June 30, 2021. These protections were originally set to expire on February 1, 2021. The Act includes the same eligibility and program rules as before including:

  • Prevents evictions for nonpayment of rent by tenants experiencing a COVID-19 hardship.
  • Available to any tenant who timely attests under penalty of perjury that he/she has not been able to pay full rent due to COVID-19-related circumstances.
  • If a tenant pays at least 25 percent of his/her rent owed between September 2020 and June 2021, they are permanently protected from eviction for not paying their full rent during this period; however they will still owe their landlord all unpaid rent.
  • Landlords may still proceed with certain other types of “just cause” evictions unrelated to a tenant’s failure to pay rent.


  • Available for households with incomes at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income, with a priority on helping households at or below 50 percent of Area Median Income as well as households unemployed for the preceding 90 days at the time of application.
  • Prioritizes the payment of rental arrearages.
  • Landlords can choose to accept 80 percent of any unpaid rent owed from April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021. If a landlord accepts this funding, the landlord agrees to forgive the remaining unpaid rent for that covered period.
  • If a landlord chooses not to participate, the tenant can still apply for relief valued at 25 percent of unpaid back rent they owe for the covered period.
  • Qualified tenants will also be able to access funds to cover 25 percent of prospective rent for the months of April, May, and June of 2021, subject to funding availability.
  • Utility arrearages will also be eligible to be paid, subject to funding availability.
  • The State will directly administer $1.5 billion through either the State Rental Assistance program or through block grants to qualifying local jurisdictions.
  • Emphasis on multilingual, local outreach, fraud prevention, and customer service.
  • Program will be stood up to begin accepting applications in March 2021.


  • Limiting public disclosure of eviction cases involving nonpayment of rent between March 4, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
  • Protects low-income tenants from landlords assigning or selling their rental debt to a third-party debt collector.
  • “Pay or Quit” Notice period for nonpayment of rent extended from 3 to 15 days.
  • Protects tenants from being evicted for “just cause” if landlord is shown to be really evicting the tenant for COVID-19 related nonpayment of rent.
  • Landlord may not charge late fees for nonpayment of rent between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 to tenants who have attested they are experiencing a COVID-19-related hardship.
  • Require landlords to notify all tenants who owe back rent about the availability of their rights and the rental assistance program via an informational notice by February 28, 2021.

Oakland: Two dead, dozens displaced from apartments in fire

OAKLAND — Two people are dead and dozens of people were left without a home after a fire ravaged an apartment building early Saturday in West Oakland, a fire official said.

The two adult victims were found dead inside one unit of the building and about 30 others have been displaced, Oakland fire Battalion Chief Geoff Hunter said. The fire broke out about 3 a.m. at a former armory now divided into live/work units in two separate buildings, stretching from 669 and 671 24th St. to 674 23rd St., between San Pablo Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Hunter said.

As the fire grew to a three-alarm blaze, it quickly spread through the roof, which the buildings share, Hunter said. Fire crews also had trouble accessing the fire, he said. Firefighters had the fire under control at 4:10 a.m.

The brick building is home to activists and artists and to AK Press and 1984 Printing, which are both located on the first-floor, 23rd Street side of the building. Both companies suffered significant water damage to their book collections and to the businesses. Employees of AK Press and 1984 Printing were busy Saturday morning pushing water out with brooms.


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Weeks Later, Fatal Fire in West Oakland Still Hurts


Oakland's deadliest fire in nearly three years continues to have an impact on the friends of the two artists who died in the blaze, dozens of displaced residents, and several businesses that have been forced to shut down for weeks.

Investigators believe the March 21 three-alarm blaze at 669 24th St. in West Oakland was probably caused accidentally, after one of the men found dead in the unit where the fire started fell asleep while smoking, said Oakland Deputy Fire Chief Darin White.

Fire officials want to know if one of the men was intoxicated. "We do believe it's possible that alcohol or other drugs could have played a part in the individuals' inability to find themselves able to remove themselves from the situation," White said in an interview.

The fire department got word of the blaze at around 3 a.m. but did not see smoke or fire when they arrived minutes later. However, as crews searched the two-story brick building, a smoke alarm began to sound and smoke started coming out the top of the door leading to Apartment D on the second floor, White said.

Firefighters broke into the unit and "encountered an apartment charged with black smoke all the way to the floor," White said. "Heavy flame was coming from the back of the apartment."


Letona was a digital videographer. "His main passion was cinema," said Ramos, who organized an online fundraising campaign to pay for a recent memorial. Some of his work can be seen on his website, davislatona.wordpress.com.

Thomas, the second victim, had artwork featured in a number of exhibitions and collections in Oakland and San Francisco over the last six years, including the McLoughlin Gallery in Union Square.

@TedrickG  tgoldberg@kqed.org