Monday, April 6, 2020.
Today, the Judicial Council of California amended the California Rules of Court by Emergency Order to put a hold on all evictions in California with very limited exceptions until 90 days after California’s COVID-19 state of emergency ends.
The Emergency Order goes much further than Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-28-20 from March 16, 2020 that authorized Counties and Cities to pass local ordinances to ban the eviction of renters unable to pay the rent because of financial hardships tied to COVID-19.
Specifically, Emergency Rule 1:
- Prevents the Court from issuing a summons in a new eviction case, which effectively means the case cannot even be filed;
- Prevents the Court from issuing a default judgment in an existing eviction case, where the landlord served the tenant, filed the complaint and the tenant has not answered, which effectively means the landlord cannot complete the eviction case nor remove the tenant; and
- Prevents the Court from setting a trial in an existing eviction case, where the tenant answered the complaint, for at least 60 days, which effectively means the tenant can answer the eviction complaint and extend possession for at least another 60 days until trial, then probably another 30 days for writ of possession.
What does all of this mean for landlords while evictions are on hold?
Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we are receiving from our landlord clients:
- Does Emergency Rule 1 apply to both residential and commercial tenancies? Yes.
- Does the Governor’s Order N-28-20 put a moratorium on all evictions? No. It authorized local agencies, Cities and Counties to pass their own local ordinance to put temporary moratorium on evictions.
- What Central Valley Counties and Cities have passed a local ordinance to put a temporary moratorium on evictions? City of Fresno passed Ordinance No. 2020-010, the COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium and Rent Deferral for six months in effect through April 18, 2020.
- Does Emergency Rule 1 put a moratorium on all evictions? No. There is a very limited exception for evictions that need to be completed due to a threat to public health and safety.
- Does the Governor’s Order N-28-20 or Emergency Rule 1 relieve a tenant from the obligation to pay rent? No.
- Do late fees and interest continue to apply to unpaid rent? Yes, unless suspended by local ordinance.
- Can landlords still send out 3 Day Notices? Technically, yes, but we are not recommending 3 Day Notices be sent at this time because the 3 Day Notice must contain an accurate amount of unpaid rent and this amount will likely change during the next few months.
- Are there other special Notices that may be required? Yes. Tenants in the City of Fresno must comply with the Notice requirements of Ordinance No. 2020-010 if they intend to seek rent deferral from the landlord.
What can a landlord do during this time to protect themselves?
Be proactive. There are many steps that landlords can take right now to protect themselves and their investments, but your options may vary depending on the lease and the local jurisdiction where your investment is located. There has never been a better time to get advice and input from an experienced landlord attorney. If you are confused about which State laws, Executive Orders, Emergency Rules, and Local City or County Ordinances apply to your lease, we are here to help you through this difficult time.