SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The clock is ticking and many Californians who didn’t pay rent are now worried they may be left without a home if a moratorium expires this Sunday.

Our state’s lawmakers vowed to extend that protection for another five months.

Senator Scott Wiener held a town hall Wednesday to answer some questions.

This latest legislation could provide billions of dollars in federal rent relief to both struggling tenants and property owners by extending an existing law set to expire next Monday, which bans landlords from evicting people as long as they pay at least 25% of their rent.

Kathleen Van Hart had a heart to heart with her landlord Jenny Zhao who owns a San Jose duplex about trouble finding work. 

She is one of 1.4 million Californians who was laid off in the past year because of the pandemic, according to the state’s latest employment survey. 

“I’m always robbing Peter to pay Paul and sold anything that I can that’s worth selling to make ends meet,” Van Hart said. 

Zhao’s husband also lost his job and says unpaid rent is costing another 20% of her income. 

To help strike a balance for both, California’s lawmakers agreed to extend a partial eviction moratorium, originally set to expire this coming Sunday. 

It addresses missed payments owed known as back rent. 

Landlords who choose to sign up could get up to 80% of unpaid rent from April first of last year through March of this year covered by federal funds if they forgive the other 20%, but if property owners don’t take up the offer, just 25% of late payments will be covered. 

To clear up questions, Senator Scott Wiener hosted a town hall Wednesday and was joined by a tenant’s rights advocate who says their organization is backlogged on hundreds of calls from a statewide hotline but urges tenants to learn and exercise their rights. 

“People are really scared and I understand why and we are trying to do our best to serve all these folks,” Shanti Singh, with Tenants Together, said. 

An attorney says tenants can take their landlords to court if they are harassed by landlords or face eviction despite these protections.

“Tenants should still fight them and should still persevere. A lot of times, we find tenants don’t know their rights they don’t know landlords can’t force them out without due process or proceedings,” attorney Steve Collier for Tenderloin Housing Clinic, Inc. said. 

Tenants will be responsible for paying at least 25 percent of their rent through June 30th.

Senator Wiener said they can choose to do so monthly or in a bulk sum at the end.

State hotline: 1-833-422-4255
San Francisco Rent Board: Phone counseling will continue to be available at (415) 252-4600 during regular hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.