As the COVID-19 pandemic causes businesses to shutter for an indefinite period of time to limit the spread of the virus, many are losing their jobs or not getting their weekly paychecks. For many renters in San Mateo County that means feeling at risk for eviction for failure to pay rent. But county and city of Half Moon Bay officials are putting a moratorium on evictions for now.

Recognizing the disruptions caused by the shelter-in-place order the local governments have placed a moratorium on eviction for failing to pay rent while the there is a declared state of emergency in the state and the county.

Renters who cannot pay rent because they were unemployed due to the shelter in place restrictions or because they became sick with the virus will be given a grace period and will not be threatened with eviction, according to San Mateo County Chief Deputy County Counsel John Nibbelin.

How it works:

• No landlord can evict a tenant or terminate a tenancy for not paying rent due to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, renters are covered if they lost employment because the business they worked at closed or if they became sick with COVID-19 and could no longer attend work.

• Under the order, if landlords seek eviction, they must supply tenants with a form that states the amount of rent due. If a tenant can provide documentation within 14 days of receiving the form that the inability to pay rent is because of COVID-19 the tenant cannot be evicted.

• After May 31, 2020, tenants owe landlords the amount of rent not paid during this period. Tenants will be given a grace period of up to 180 days to repay the rent owed.

“What we are doing here is unique,” Nibbelin said. “We are doing something as a county and it includes all the cities. It’s a regulation that covers everything within the boundaries of the county.”

The policy applies only to residential renters. However, Nibbelin said cities have the discretion to go above and beyond. He also indicated that while this is meant to provide relief to people dealing with restrictions imposed because of the outbreak, renters should pay landlords what they can afford, even if it’s just a small percentage of the total rent.

The moratorium is in place until May 31, 2020, but may be adjusted as circumstances change, according to Nibbelin.

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