Berkeley’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium, which had been in place since March 2020, ended Friday.

Good-cause evictions at properties under Berkeley Rent Board’s jurisdiction, and all evictions at non-covered properties, are once again allowed.

The city was in a “transition period” between May 1 and Aug. 31. The only evictions allowed during this time were for owner move-ins (for owners with only one property in the city), health and safety violations, and nonpayment of rent for reasons not due to COVID-19.  

The rent board said property owners filed 178 total eviction notices during that period. More may still be recorded because property owners are required to file those notices within 10 days of serving an initial “pay or quit” notice to a tenant. 

But only six of those notices culminated in an unlawful detainer and court eviction, according to Rent Board chair Leah Simon-Weisberg.

In Alameda County, evictions sharply increased this year, when the county and state ended eviction protections. Oakland’s eviction moratorium ended in mid-July, and Berkeley was the last city in the county to bring its protections to an end. 

According to Alameda County Superior Court data obtained by The Oaklandside, property owners filed between 300 to 400 evictions a month before the eviction moratorium. Numbers jumped to over 500 evictions in May, even before Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro ended their protections. 

Advocates and courts say they’re expecting another flood of evictions this fall.

The Q&A below can help you navigate the end of the eviction moratorium and look for resources.

What is a good cause eviction?

Properties covered by the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board ordinance, either partially or entirely, are always protected under “good cause” eviction rules. This amounts to about 3,000 properties in Berkeley.

Landlords at these addresses cannot evict tenants because they sold the property, the rental agreement expired, the property foreclosed or there was a change in the federal Section 8 status of a unit.

See the complete list of “good cause” evictions on the Berkeley Rent Board website.

How much rent do I have to pay to avoid being evicted?

Renters cannot be evicted in Berkeley for any rent accrued before September, but starting Friday, they must pay rent every month to keep their housing.

Property owners are allowed, however, to file lawsuits against their tenants for nonpayment of rent during COVID-19.

“Tomorrow morning, if you haven’t paid your rent that became due (Sept. 1), you can be evicted,” Simon-Weisberg said. “There’s no longer a defense that you can’t pay because of COVID.”

These protections are specific to Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda County. Oakland’s protections sunsetted July 15, while the county’s ended in February.

To avoid small claims court consequences, Simon-Weisberg said the best course of action is to start developing a payment plan for back rent, or consider bankruptcy if your debt is too large.

What can I do if I get an eviction notice?

The best course of action is to respond quickly to a three-day or 10-day “pay or quit” notice and reach out for assistance, especially if you think you are experiencing a wrongful eviction.

Legal support is always available through the Berkeley Rent Board, as well as the Eviction Defense Center and the East Bay Community Law Center.

Where can I get help if I’m being evicted?

The Eviction Defense Center offers financial and legal support to tenants who are being evicted in Alameda County.

Though funding for other cities has been exhausted, money is still available for Berkeley residents who need rental support through the Housing Retention Program, according to Simon-Weisberg. Berkeley has allocated almost $5 million toward that fund to date.

The Eviction Defense Center is contracting with the city to distribute the money. The Rent Board says to contact EDC at (510) 452-4541 and ask for Eric Magaña or Jose Morales.

Anyone who has been evicted and experiencing homelessness will have to access different supports through the county’s Coordinated Entry program. Caseworkers at Bay Area Community Services and the East Bay Community Law Center can provide support.

Featured photo: Pete Rosos

Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...