This information is intended for general information only and is not considered legal advice. Rules and regulations in this time are changing frequently. If you are seeking legal assistance regarding your specific circumstances, please call Legal Aid for information or assistance.
COVID-19 and Evictions
Any tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to seek legal assistance.
What is the status of eviction cases in California?
California Courts have temporarily suspended most eviction cases doe the COVID-19 public crisis, except for evictions that are necessary for health and safety. A residential landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without a court order. For more information, visit:
Do I still have to pay rent?
Yes. Nothing in the court orders or local ordinances states that you don’t owe rent. However, if you can’t pay your rent due to the COVID-19 crisis, you may have a defense to an eviction if you take certain steps, and the landlord may have to give you longer to pay.
If I cannot pay my rent because of COVID-19, do I have to tell my landlord?
Yes. To have a defense to eviction by some new local laws and an Executive Order from the Governor of California, you must tell your landlord in writing as soon as possible that you cannot pay your rent.
Give your landlord a letter, or send your landlord an email. You should explain to your landlord why you cannot pay all or part of your rent. The Govenor’s order requires that the notice go to the landlord within 7 days that rent was due. Some local laws have specific requirements for what must be included in the letter and different deadlines. We recommend that you seek legal help for letters to your landlord. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
What else do I need to do if I cannot pay my rent due to COVID-19?
You must also give your landlord proof of the reason you cannot pay rent with your letter or as soon as you can. This could include a layoff notice, signed letter from the employer, pay stubs, bank statements etc. Tenants must keep a copy of this documentation for their records.
The information above is a general summary. Tenant protections and legal responsibilities vary depending on where you live. Some local governments in Santa Barbara County have passed ordinances or rules which provide additional protections, deadlines, and responsibilities for tenants impacted by COVID-19:
- (scroll down for info on the Temporary Eviction Moritorium due to COVID-19)
- City of Buellton
- City of Guadalupe
Rules and responsibilities are also subject to change. Tenants who have trouble paying rent due to COVID-19, receive an eviction notice, or receive court paperwork for “unlawful detainer” should immediately seek legal assistance. If you get served court papers for an eviction, you must respond to the papers.
Please call us for help.
How to Contact Legal Aid
Santa Barbara: (805) 963-6754
Lompoc: (805) 736-6582
Santa Maria (805) 922-9909
IRS STIMULUS PAYMENT INFORMATION
- Most Social Security beneficiaries, such as those who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Retirement, who are not typically required to file tax returns do not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive a stimulus payment , known as the Economic Impact Payment. Payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts.
- People with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full $1,200 payment and up to $500 for each qualifying child.
- However, if your only source of income is SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or veterans disability compensation and you do not normally file a tax return, will need to file a tax return to get a stimulus payment. Non-filers should file here.
- If you are in this category of non-filers and you have dependents under the age of 17 who are eligible for the $500 per child payment, you need to take an extra step to claim that additional funding. Use this IRS website to input the necessary child dependent information.
See irs.gov/coronavirus for more information.
COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR HOMEOWNERS
Worried about being able to pay your mortgage? Contact your mortgage servicer (the company you pay your bill to) immediately to let them know that you have been impacted by COVID-19 and are having trouble paying your mortgage. Your servicer should then evaluate your options and instruct you on how to apply for relief. Your rights will depend on who owns your mortgage and whether it is guaranteed by the federal government. Please call us so we can help you navigate the process for receiving mortgage relief.
Foreclosure Protections and Mortgage Payment Relief for Homeowners Summary from National Housing Law Project (NHLP) of certain mortgage provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and related federal actions.
FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Special Pandemic Food Assistance program: ca.p-ebt.org/en/info
Due to COVID-19, children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school will get extra food benefits. These food benefits are called Pandemic EBT or P-EBT benefits.
P-EBT benefits help families in California buy food when school is closed.
- Most families with children who receive CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or Foster Care benefits do not need to apply online. They will get their P-EBT card in the mail during the month of May. P-EBT cards will begin arriving around May 11, 2020 through May 22, 2020.
- Families with children who applied for CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits after their school closed will get their P-EBT card in the mail before June 30, 2020.
- Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and who do NOT get CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits must apply online before June 30, 2020.
TIPS TO AVOID COVID-19 SCAMS
UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DUE TO COVID-10
How do I obtain unemployment benefits when I lost my job or my hours were cut?
What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
This is a benefit for those who may not be eligible for traditional unemployment:
How to File a Claim for Unemployment Benefits in via the State of California:
- Log in to California’s Benefit Programs Online. (edd.ca.gov/unemployment/UI_Online_File_a_Claim.htm)
- Select UI Online.
- Select File a Claim.
- Read the UI Claim Filing Instructions. Select Next to continue.
- Give your general information, last employer information, and employment history.
- Review your information on the Summary page, then select Submit.
UI OnlineSM is the fastest and easiest way to file your Unemployment Insurance c-laim.
You can file your claim through UI Online seven (7) days a week between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Representatives are available at the following toll-free numbers, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon except on state holidays.
By Mail or by Fax:
File your UI claim by accessing the paper Unemployment Insurance Application. For faster and secure processing, fax the completed application to the number listed on the form. If you mail your application, use the address on the form and allow additional time for processing.
How to Obtain more information from Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara County will not process your claim for Unemployment Benefits, but they have helpful information and resources to help you find employment. The information on the Santa Barbara County website can be found at www.readysbc.org/additional_resources.
What if I cannot work because I am sick with COVID-19 or I am caring for a family member with COVID-19?
People certified by a medical professional as unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 may be eligible for State Disability Insurance.
People unable to work because they are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19, as certified by a medical professional, may be eligible for Paid Family Leave, which pays up to 6 weeks of benefits.
For more information, visit:
State of California Employment Development Department
FAMILY LAW ISSUES AND COVID-19 (DIVORCE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE)
When Home isn’t safe … seek help immediately.
IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, CALL 9-1-1
YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN HELP YOU
IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO CALL 911,
REACH OUT TO A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER AND ASK FOR HELP
If you suspect that a family member, friend, or neighbor is being abused, get involved! If you SEE, HEAR, or SENSE that someone you know needs help – do not hesitate to call 911.
Though the courts may be temporarily closed for non- urgent matters due to COVID-19, they are open for emergencies such as dealing with domestic violence. It is hard enough to get out of an abusive home. Now, with shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders, home could become an even more contentious place. If you or someone in your household is being abused, please seek help right away. You are not alone. Reach out to us for help obtaining a restraining order.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline identified these ways in which COVID-19 could uniquely impact intimate partner violence survivors:
- Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.
- Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
- Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance, or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.
- Programs that serve survivors may be significantly impacted –- shelters may be full or may even stop intakes altogether. Survivors may also fear entering shelter because of being in close quarters with groups of people.
- Survivors who are older or have chronic heart or lung conditions may be at increased risk in public places where they would typically get support, like shelters, counseling centers, or courthouses.
- Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan – it may not be safe for them to use public transportation or to fly.
- An abusive partner may feel more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.
If any of these things are happening to you, we are here to help. You do not have to do this alone. If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. If you need legal assistance and you are already working with an attorney, Legal Aid or otherwise, contact them directly. If you need the assistance of an attorney, call us for further instructions.
Domestic Violence / COVID / Court FAQs
Are the family law courts open?
- Santa Barbara County Courthouses are closed until at least May 23, 2020. In order to protect the public and court staff, at this time no court hearings will be held in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, or Lompoc during the closure period. All hearings/matters set during this time period, will be postponed and you will receive written notification of your new court date at the address the Court has on file.
I heard that some emergency family law matters are being heard. What constitutes an emergency? How do I get emergency orders?
- Domestic violence situations are generally considered emergencies. However, these will be judged on a case by case basis. If you are already working with an attorney, Legal Aid or otherwise, contact them directly. If you need the assistance of an attorney, call the Legal Aid office closest to you for further instructions. If you qualify for our services, one of the Legal Aid attorneys will contact you. If you are not represented, and you’re seeking emergency orders from the court, you can call: North County phone number: (805) 614-6500 South County phone number: (805) 882-4590. Self-Represented parties may call the Family Law Facilitator’s office at the phone numbers below for help with filling out forms and information on which forms are appropriate: Santa Barbara: 805.882.4660, Santa Maria: 805.614.6442
I already have a temporary restraining order. Can I still get a final order?
- All in-person hearings are rescheduled. Your temporary order will be continued and extended until the date of your in-person hearing. You should be receiving notice of the new hearing date in the mail. If you are already working with us, call your attorney for further clarification. If you need the assistance of an attorney, call us for further instructions. If you qualify for our services, we can help you.
My restraining order has been violated. What can I do?
- If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Alternatively you can call the police non-emergency line to report the violation. Most restraining orders require
If I have a Criminal Protective Order, do I still need a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?
- It depends. This requires a case by case analysis. If you feel protected and safe with the Criminal Protective Order alone, that is your choice. However, often Criminal Protective Orders do not include the children or other members of your household. Also Criminal Protective Orders are not renewable. If you are already working with an attorney, Legal Aid or otherwise, contact them directly. If you need the assistance of an attorney, call the Legal Aid office closest to you for further instructions. If you qualify for our services, one of the Legal Aid attorneys will contact you.
I don’t have a restraining order, but I need one. Can I still get one?
- We can help you file for a restraining order. If you are already working with an attorney, Legal Aid or otherwise, contact them directly. If you need the assistance of an attorney, call us for further instructions. If you qualify for our services, we can help you. If you would prefer to do this on your own, the court encourages you to E-file the documents. If it is impossible to file documents electronically, mail or FAX filing are the alternatives. The Legal Resource Centers are open and available to assist litigants who are self-represented (see our services page).
How do I get a restraining order renewed?
- Emergency Protective Orders, which are issued by law enforcement, are not renewable. Criminal Protective Orders are not renewable either. However, Domestic Violence Restraining Orders can be renewed. If you need help renewing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order or want to get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order because your Emergency Protective Order or Criminal Protective Order is expiring or expired, call the Legal Aid office closest to you for further instructions. If you qualify for our services, one of the Legal Aid attorneys will contact you.
Can Legal Aid help me with shelter?
- Legal Aid does not provide shelter. We are are legal organization. If you are in need of shelter, contact Domestic Violence Solutions, they may be able to help you. Their website is: dvsolutions.org/ Their 24-Hour Crisis & Information Hotline numbers are:
- Santa Barbara (805) 964-5245
- Lompoc (805) 736-0965
- Santa Maria (805) 925-2160
- Santa Ynez Valley (805) 686-4390
If my child and/or I must shelter in place, how do I comply with child custody and visitation orders?
- This is a complicated legal question and requires a case-by-case analysis. If you are already working with an attorney, Legal Aid or otherwise, contact them directly. If you need the assistance of an attorney, call the Legal Aid office closest to you for further instructions. If you qualify for our services, one of the Legal Aid attorneys will contact you. If you wish to handle this on your own, you cannot find an attorney, and/or you do not qualify for Legal Aid’s services, the Santa Barbara Superior Court offers this guidance:
- Unfortunately, that is a legal question as to whether your situation involves an exception to shelter in place orders issued by the County or State. Since the Court is prohibited from giving legal advice, you may wish to seek legal advice or contact the authority issuing the shelter in place order for guidance.
- However, the Court always encourages parties to meet and confer in an attempt to resolve areas of potential dispute (if there is no court order restraining contact). The best interests of children should be paramount in this public health crisis and we encourage all to try to reach agreement, if you can, on any modifications of visitation plans needed to ensure the safety of children and their parents in compliance with shelter in place orders.
- If an agreement is reached, written stipulations can be filed and submitted to the Court for approval.
- If an agreement cannot be reached, parties may file a Request for Order asking the Court to modify custody and visitation plans. However, no court hearings will be scheduled before April 23, 2020, and the Court expects to extend this date should the COVID-19 situation so require.
- If you believe you need an emergency hearing in your case, attorneys or self-represented parties may contact the Court and explain the basis for the emergency. The request will be reviewed by a Judge and a determination will be made as to the necessity of a hearing. One judge in Santa Barbara and one judge in Santa Maria have been designated by the Presiding Judge to handle any emergency ex parte requests. These are true EMERGENCY situations ONLY.
The abuser is not adhering to shelter in place/shelter at home orders. I am afraid that the actions of the abuser, such as continuing to go to work, will result in my child and/or me contracting COVID-19. What should I do?
- This is a complicated legal question and requires a case-by-case analysis. If you are already working with an attorney, Legal Aid or otherwise, contact them directly. If you need the assistance of an attorney, call the Legal Aid office closest to you for further instructions. If you qualify for our services, one of the Legal Aid attorneys will contact you. If you wish to handle this on your own, you cannot find an attorney, and/or you do not qualify for Legal Aid’s services, see the above guidance.
Divorce E-Book Resource – If you are working on divorce proceedings:
Other COVID-19 Information & Resources
Guides for Immigrant Californians
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Family Law COVID-19 Guidelines
City of Lompoc
Lompoc COVID-19 information line Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm – (805) 875-8071)
United Way of Santa Barbara County COVID-19 Joint Response Grants for Individuals
United Way of Santa Barbara County will be providing grants to individuals disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a free tax preparation service for individuals and families in Santa Barbara County. Tax returns are prepared and completed by IRS-certified volunteers each year from February through April throughout Southern Santa Barbara County.
El 805 UndocuFund es un esfuerzo colectivo entre organizaciones comunitarias en los condados de Ventura y Santa Bárbara para ayudar a las personas y familias inmigrantes indocumentadas locales que han sido impactados económicamente por la pérdida de sus hogares, salarios y /o empleo debido a desastres en nuestra comunidad como incendios, deslaves, y el coronavirus, y están excluidas de la asistencia de programas de redes de seguridad financiados por el gobierno federal.
The 93108Fund is a resource helping the hourly wage earners of Montecito, CA.
Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
Food and nutrition distribution and resources.
Schools Address Student Nutrition During Closures (Santa Ynez Valley Star, 03/16/20)
Price-Gouging Laws are now in effect throughout Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office, 3/12/20)
FREE LEGAL VIDEOS REGARDING COVID-19
The California Lawyers Association has created a variety of videos for the public addressing various legal issues that are coming up in light COVID-19. Many are available in Spanish or have Spanish closed captioning.
- employee rights
- employee benefits
- employee health and safety issues
- small business employer issues
- family issues (child custody, spousal support and domestic violence)
- residential and commercial real estate issues
- tele-med changes
- issues related to the PPP, EIDL and other relief available to small businesses and tax implications for those seeking unemployment insurance or other CARES related benefits.View and share here: calawyers.org/