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Emergency Moratorium on Evictions Takes Effect in the City of San Diego

By Procopio Partner Justine Nielsen

A temporary moratorium on commercial and residential evictions is now in effect in the City of San Diego. The San Diego City Council adopted Emergency Ordinance No. O-21177 (the “Emergency Ordinance”) on March 25, 2020, enacting a temporary moratorium on commercial and residential evictions due to financial hardships associated with COVID-19. The Emergency Ordinance expires May 31, 2020.

Relevant provisions of the Ordinance are summarized below:

  • Landlords may not evict residential or commercial tenants for failure to pay rent that was due on or after March 12, 2020, so long as tenant is eligible for eviction protection.
  • To be eligible for eviction protection under the Emergency Ordinance, the tenant must do two things:

1. Provide written notice (including via email or text) to the landlord that the tenant is unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19, on or before the rent was due; and
2. Provide the landlord with objectively verifiable documentation or information supporting the tenant’s claim that it is unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19 within 7 days of providing the written notice to landlord.

  • “Financial Impacts” is broadly defined to mean a substantial decrease in household or business income due to business closure, loss of compensable hours/wages, layoffs or substantial medical expenses associated with COVID-19.
  • If eligible for eviction protection, landlords may not initiate any eviction actions or charge/collect any late fees.
  • Nothing in the Emergency Ordinance eliminates tenant obligations to lawfully pay rent.
  • If eligible for eviction protection, tenants have up to six months from March 25, 2019 to pay all unpaid rent, unless the repayment period is extended by the City Council.  At the end of the six-month repayment period, landlords may evict a tenant who has not paid all outstanding rent.
  • If a tenant opts to move during the repayment period, all unpaid rent is due upon move out, unless otherwise specified in the lease.

Please refer to our website for more information related to the COVID-19 pandemic at


Justine K. Nielsen is the leader of Procopio's Land Use practice group and a member of its Real Estate practice. She represents private entities and other organizations on a variety of land use, planning and entitlement matters throughout all stages of the real estate development process. Her practice consists of land use due diligence, entitlement management and processing, appearing before public entities in connection with development projects, CEQA regulatory compliance matters including preparation and review of environmental documents, and post-approval implementation of entitlements. She has experience with a variety of product types including multi-family residential, mixed-use, life sciences, commercial/retail, hotel, and institutional uses including schools and hospitals. She has expertise in matters related to the Coastal Act, the Subdivision Map Act, CEQA, Density Bonus, historical resource regulations, other related statutes. She also assists clients in reviewing and drafting land use ordinances, permit findings, and similar land use regulatory documents.