On Aug. 13, 2020, the Judicial Council of California voted to end two temporary emergency rules governing evictions and judicial foreclosures. These rules suspended both residential and commercial eviction actions by disallowing courts to issue summons on complaints for eviction unless the court found that the action was necessary to protect public health and safety.
The Judicial Council had originally stated that its emergency rules would stay in place until 90 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifts the state of emergency or until the Judicial Council amends or repeals the rule. The Judicial Council’s vote is an effective repeal of its rule and is set to take effect on Sept. 1, 2020.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, renters were protected from eviction through state executive orders, local ordinances and the Judicial Council’s rules. However, this vote mitigates some protections renters once held. Renters will no longer be protected by the Judicial Council’s measures to postpone the displacement of renters who have failed to pay rent or are otherwise in default after Sept. 1, 2020.
Without protection from the Judicial Council, renters can only be protected by state and local ordinances. Presently, over 100 counties and cities have enacted stronger renter protections. Thus, before proceeding with an eviction action, landlords should check their local ordinances to determine whether any protections for renters are in place.
In addition to reviewing local ordinances, landlords should monitor whether Gov. Newsom and/or local lawmakers issue new orders to prevent renters from being evicted. Indeed, Gov. Newsom has said he is working to extend statewide protections for renters. The California Legislature has proposed AB-1436, legislation that seeks to address protections for renters. Therefore, although the Judicial Council’s rule certainly benefits landlords, landlords may still be unable to proceed with eviction actions.
What Should Landlords Do?
- Wait until after Sept. 1, 2020 before filing an unlawful detainer action;
- Diligently research whether local ordinances protect renters from being evicted;
- Monitor whether Gov. Newsom issues a new executive order that provides renters protection from being evicted;
- Monitor whether their local lawmakers enact new protections in light of the Judicial Council of California’s ruling; and
- Consult local counsel to appropriately investigate creative solutions including lease restructuring or to determine alternative remedies to eviction if an unlawful detainer action remains inadequate.