New Rules: California Unlawful Detainers

Lewitt Hackman

Lewitt Hackman

The California Judicial Council met April 6, 2020 to vote on certain emergency measures regarding unlawful detainer actions.

The Judicial Council approved the following rules that remain in effect until 90 days after Governor Gavin Newsom declares the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted, or until amended or repealed by the Judicial Council. These rules apply to all unlawful detainers, and thus provide significantly greater protections against eviction than earlier state and local orders and ordinances that applied primarily to non-payment of rent cases related to COVID-19.

  • General Suspension on Issuance of Summons: a court may not issue a summons on a complaint for unlawful detainer unless the court finds, in its discretion and on the record, that the action is necessary to protect public health and safety. This rule essentially temporarily prevents the prosecution of any future unlawful detainer action, unless the limited exception applies. 
  • Entry of Defaults Discretionary: a court may not enter a default or default judgment for possession for failure of defendant to appear unless the court finds: (a) the action is necessary to protect public health and safety; and (b) the defendant has not appeared in the action within the time provided by law, including by any applicable executive order. 
  • Extension of Time for Trial Setting: If a defendant has appeared in an unlawful detainer action, the court may not set a trial date earlier than 60 days after a request for trial is made unless the court finds that an earlier trial date is necessary to protect public health and safety. Any trial set in an unlawful detainer proceeding as of April 1, 2020 must be continued at least 60 days from the initial date of trial. Prior to this rule, a court was to set a trial within 20 days of a trial setting request. 


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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