Governor Gavin Newsom has expanded on what was already becoming policy in some cities around California, issuing an executive order Friday that bans landlords from evicting residential tenants for non-payment of rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order extends the ban through May 31, suggesting that if tenants are unable to pay rent in April or May, they can not be evicted for saying so — as long as they inform their landlords in writing within seven days of the rent being due. As of now, the moratorium applies only to residential tenants.

"No one should lose their home because of COVID-19," Newsom said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Newsom unveiled a financial relief package that includes a 90-day relief period for mortgage payments — and on Friday, as the East Bay Express reports, banks in the state agreed to the mortgage deal.

The SF Business Times reports that the eviction moratorium order for renters does not stipulate how and when back rent will have to be paid, only that tenants must "eventually pay their rent in a timely manner." It also suggests that renters may have to provide proof of a financial shortfall, though that will not need to be submitted in advance when notifying a landlord.

Some local jurisdictions who have adopted similar orders have stipulated that renters inform landlords of their inability to pay before rent is due, but this order would override those.

Earlier this week, Santa Clara County, Marin County and Alameda County all declared similar moratoriums on residential evictions for non-payment of rent.

In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed issued a similar order last week, and also issued an executive order last week, the day after the governor's statewide shelter-in-place order, declaring a moratorium on evictions for small- and medium-sized businesses in the city.

It remains unclear how the city and state will handle eviction claims that arise after shelter-in-place orders are lifted, while many residents and businesses in multiple industries continue to suffer from the fallout of weeks or months without work or customers.

Photo: David Anderson