The public response to the COVID-19 pandemic requires non-essential places of business to close or at least severely reduce their operations. Millions in the United States are now unemployed or underemployed. Recognizing the financial condition of many renters in California, Governor Newsom issued an executive order on March 27, 2020, to impose a state moratorium on evictions.

You are supposed to stay at home, but with no income, how are you supposed to pay the rent?

If you can’t pay your regular rent, the good news is that you can’t be evicted right now for not being able to pay. The reality is that you will have to pay that rent later, so no, you are not getting free rent.

You must follow the rules of the governor’s executive order to benefit from avoiding eviction. You must notify the landlord in writing no later than seven days after the rental due date that you cannot pay the full amount owed. Since your landlord can give you a three-day notice to pay rent or resign as soon as you stop paying your regular rent on the first day of the month, it is best to provide that notice in writing before the due date.

The governor’s order provides some examples of qualifying situations such as being unable to pay due to COVID-19. If you got sick with the virus or had to stay home to care for someone who has the virus so that they cannot work, you must qualify. If you were laid off, lost hours, or lost income due to the COVID-19 situation, you must qualify. If you had to miss work because your child’s school was closed due to COVID-19, you must also qualify.

The eviction moratorium requires you to pay the amount of rent that you can afford now. You should retain proof of your qualifications for the eviction moratorium, such as a job loss notice, paycheck stubs, bank statements, medical bills, or other documents to show that you cannot pay the full amount of rent. You should give those documents to the landlord when you finish paying the back rent.

I am providing a sample form for you to use to provide written notice to the owner.

Be sure to keep your own copy of the letter you send. Send a copy of the governor’s order with the notice.


The author of this article and the attached form provide these materials for informational purposes only and are intended to be used as a guide before consulting with an attorney familiar with your specific legal situation. The author of the article and the form does not provide legal advice here and this form is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you need legal advice, seek the services of a competent and available local attorney.

Frederic M. Douglas is a solo professional who specializes in litigation related to intellectual property (patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights, and more). Mr. Douglas has been registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office for over 18 years. Before college, he drove a taxi for eight years in Ventura County, California.

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