Coronavirus: What Bay Area tenants need to know about rent payments, eviction amid COVID-19 outbreak

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's the first of the month and for renters all over the Bay Area, rent is due. However, April 1 is the first time since the onset of the novel coronavirus crisis that renters will have to pay while also dealing with the financial impact of the pandemic.

For those who are worried about paying rent this month, here's what you need to know.

What if I can't pay rent?
There are new protections at the federal, state, county, and even city level to prevent you from being evicted. But you must act in order to protect yourself. Some cities have different processes and deadlines than others, so you should first check to your city's eviction moratorium ordinance. Most require you to notify your landlord in writing within a certain timeframe (and honestly -- the sooner the better). Then, you must be able to prove how you were impacted by the coronavirus (e.g., loss of income, medical expenses, childcare needs), so keep all related documents and be ready to provide copies.

RELATED: Eviction moratoriums around the Bay Area during coronavirus pandemic: Ordinances city by city

Do I still owe rent? When does it need to be paid?
Yes, you still owe rent. The ordinances have different time frames for paying your back rent after the crisis is over. Some will require all rent to be paid at the end of the moratorium; some offer payment plans and grace periods. Again, you must check your city / county's ordinance to see what plan you fall under. Most ordinances also prohibit landlords from assessing late fees.

Can I get evicted?
The moratoriums protect those who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, and prohibit evictions due to non-payment or late payment. However, many cities will still allow evictions for other reasons -- including back rent owed before the crisis began. (For example, if you didn't pay February's rent and still owe that to your landlord, in some cases the landlord can still pursue an eviction.)

RELATED: Coronavirus: Renters out of work due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place

Can my landlord increase my rent?
Some cities have also enacted rent freezes with their moratoriums. Concord, for example, has enacted a rent freeze for most people. Oakland has capped rent increases at 3.5% in most cases. Again, check for your city's own policy.

What happens if my landlord tries to evict me anyway?
Contact your city or county's housing authority, and make sure you have your documentation proving you've been financially impacted by the pandemic. Other organizations, such as the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and Oakland Tenants' Union may be able to help. Most courts are not processing evictions at this time, but you must act in order to exercise your protections.

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