Ask tenant for COVID-19 rental debt

Before you can start your small claims case you need to ask your tenant for the unpaid rent. Figure out how much money they owe you. Then ask them for the money in person or in writing, by phone, or in person.

Asking for COVID-19 rental debt payment

  • Figure out how much your tenant owes

    Add up any unpaid rent from March 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. You can also include other money owed under your lease or rental agreement, like parking fees or utility payments.

    Subtract any payments you received or any other money you need to credit your tenant with (for example if they paid for repairs that you should have).

  • Find out how to get in touch with your tenant

    To ask for the money, you'll need a way to contact your tenant. You don't need to do this in person. For example, you could just get their phone number or email.  Get tips for how to find someone.

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    You'll need to find out where they are if you end up suing them. You'll need to have a copy of the court papers delivered to them in California.

    If your tenant moved out of California, contact your Small Claims Advisor to find out your options. You can still ask them for the money, but you may not be able to sue in small claims court in California.

  • Ask for the money

    Ask your tenant for the unpaid rent. You can do this by phone, in person, or in writing (like in a letter or email). You can ask if they have applied, or plan to apply, for government rental assistance.

    If they don't agree to pay you can

    • Suggest mediation 
    • Decide to sue. You can do this in small claims court or in civil court.

    If you're owed COVID-19 rental debt, you will need to show that you made a good faith effort to help your tenant get government rental assistance before filing a small claims case. Write down what you did to help.

    If they agree to pay

    If you want, you can write up the agreement and you can both sign it. Having a written agreement can help if you agree to accept payments over time. It can help prevent misunderstandings.

    If there's a restraining order between you and your tenant or you think it would be dangerous, you don't need to ask them.

Small Claims

What's next?

If your tenant does not pay you and you do not get any money from the government rental assistance program, you can start a small claims case.

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