County of Marin - News Releases - Tenant Protections

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2020

County Helps Prevent Displacement of Renters

More time provided for tenants to resolve back payments during COVID-19

San Rafael, CA – In a move to further protect renters from evictions during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Marin County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution April 28 to address the urgent financial needs of Marin’s most vulnerable tenants and prevent homelessness.

An exterior view of a row of apartments in Marin County.About 36% of Marin residents are renters. Because of the severe shortage of affordable housing and the COVID-19 pandemic causing the loss of jobs, many renters are at high risk for homelessness.
The new resolution amends a March 24 moratorium on evictions and builds upon actions taken by Governor Gavin Newsom and the Judicial Council of California in the past month, including extending the deadline for a tenant to formally respond to an eviction complaint from five days to 60 days. The state order also prohibits residential evictions for tenants who demonstrate that nonpayment of rent is directly caused by the public health emergency. Both state orders are in effect through May 31.

The Board of Supervisors’ amended resolution of April 28 aligns County policy with the state policy and clarifies definitions in the earlier resolution. Evictions prompted by the loss of income related to COVID-19 are prohibited through May 31, and renters have up to 90 days after the expiration of the resolution to repay back rent.

Landlords may seek payment of unpaid rent after the expiration of the local emergency, but they may not charge late fees. The resolution applies to all of Marin, including cities, towns, and unincorporated areas.

Supervisors Damon Connolly and Kate Sears, members of the Board’s subcommittee on affordable housing, both emphasized the need to strike balances between tenant and landlord concerns and for good communication options to help resolve rent issues.

Connolly said the new policy was well informed by outreach with nonprofit tenant groups, County staff, attorneys, and a local landlord association. “It has underscored the importance we see in ongoing communication and negotiation between landlords and tenants,” he said. “We’ve actually built that expectation into this revised ordinance going forward.”

Sears said the Board received comments from struggling tenants asking for a longer time period to allow payment of back rent. “We are really encouraging landlords and tenants to have conversations with each other and not start off on a polarized or antagonistic position,” she said. “…That, ultimately, is what is going to be the path forward, where landlords and tenants come up with repayment plans that may work well in the 90-day period or if they can agree on longer.”

COVID-19 is causing, and is expected to continue to cause, serious negative impacts on the Marin economy and to residents. Additionally, with Marin’s severe shortage of affordable rental housing, some residents are at high risk for homelessness, and in turn, less equipped to mitigate the risks associated with the virus. About 36% of Marin’s residents are renters.

The California State Judicial Council suspended actions on eviction cases April 6, preventing courts from issuing a summons on a tenant or to enter a judgment against a tenant who hasn’t responded to a summons. All judicial foreclosures have been postponed at least 60 days.

The District Attorney’s Office has a consumer mediation division that helps resolve any sort of dispute, including landlord-tenant problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. The service is free to both parties. More information is on the DA’s webpage. Also, the County requires mediation upon request of either a tenant or landlord when an annual rent increase of more than 5 percent is being sought by a landlord for rentals in the unincorporated sections of Marin.

On March 24, the Board approved a new local relief fund partnership with the Marin Community Foundation (MCF) to address the most urgent safety-net needs. Initially, both parties contributed $500,000 each to the fund, but the money was quickly depleted as residents appealed for help with rent. The County and MCF granted another $500,000 each on April 21 and are using the assistance of selected local nonprofits to disseminate the fund to the neediest populations. The County anticipated awarding all $938,000 of the CARES-Act Community Development Block Grant funds which are designated to Marin to rental assistance which will benefit low income families and individuals and local landlords.

Since March 18, the federal government has enforced a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages for 60 days, a period that ends May 17.

Contact:

Leelee Thomas
Planning Manager
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6697
Email: Leelee Thomas
Affordable Housing webpage