Judicial Council of California Votes to End Statewide Judicial Restrictions on Evictions

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Key Points

  • The Judicial Council of California has voted to end its statewide restriction on evictions by ending Emergency Rule 1.
  • Beginning September 2, 2020, courts will once again be authorized to issue summonses, enter defaults, issue writs of possession, and set new trial dates in unlawful detainer actions.
  • Other state, county, and city moratoria continue in effect, however, and may restrict evictions in certain circumstances or locations.

On Thursday, August 13, 2020, the Judicial Council of California voted to end Emergency Rule 1 governing evictions in California. The rule, adopted on April 6, 2020, effectively halted all unlawful detainer lawsuits, except those necessary to protect public health and safety. As a result of the vote, Emergency Rule 1 will expire at midnight on September 1, 2020. Thereafter, courts will once again be authorized to issue summonses on all unlawful detainer actions, enter defaults, issue writs of possession, and set new trial dates.

Despite the Judicial Council’s decision to end the statewide emergency rule, senior living operators, including RCFE and CCRC licensees, may still face roadblocks should they need to pursue an eviction. Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order EO N-66-20, issued on May 28, 2020, continues in effect through September 28, 2020. The order limits evictions for nonpayment resulting from a decrease in income caused by COVID-19. Some counties and cities have imposed their own moratoria on evictions. Superior courts in many counties still have their own rules that may limit the ability to pursue unlawful detainer lawsuits. Where unlawful detainer actions can legally proceed, the near five-month moratorium on evictions may result in large volumes of lawsuits being filed at once, causing significant backlogs and delays.

The Judicial Council’s decision to end Emergency Rule 1 was largely based on a recognition of the judicial branch’s role in government. In a statement, California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said, “The judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches on a long-term basis to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic. The duty of the judicial branch is to resolve disputes under the law and not to legislate.” Thus, prior to September 1, 2020, the legislature or Governor may extend the protections of Emergency Rule 1 in the form of law or executive order.

In light of the Judicial Council’s vote, and the anticipated volume of impending statewide eviction lawsuits, senior living operators may wish to protect their interests by serving termination notices where an appropriate basis exists and where not otherwise prohibited. Communities facing potential eviction situations should consult legal counsel to discuss the facts involved, the bases for termination, and potentially applicable county or state rules.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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