In April of 2020, the California Judicial Council issued several temporary emergency rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rules 1 and 2 relate specifically to evictions and judicial foreclosure actions. Essentially, these rules say that the state’s courts will not process eviction or foreclosure orders unless it’s necessary to protect public health and safety. The judicial ban has remained in effect since that time. However, on August 13, 2020, the Council voted to repeal these rules and end California’s judicial eviction and foreclosure moratorium. The ban, which was initially scheduled to end in mid-August, is now set to expire on September 1, 2020. Now many are asking: What will the end of California’s judicial eviction and foreclosure moratorium mean for landlords and tenants?
Why Did the Judicial Council End the Ban?
In the weeks leading up to the vote, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye commented that it is the state legislature’s role, rather than the judiciary’s, to create more permanent remedies for pandemic-related unlawful detainer and judicial foreclosure actions. The Council’s rules were intended to be emergency, temporary measures put in place to give the state’s leadership time to develop strategies and long-term solutions amid crisis conditions. The August order explained that when the COVID-19 outbreak first hit California, the legislature was not in session, and its citizens and institutions were subject to an emergency shelter in place order. Today, the state legislature is back in session, and its infrastructure is operational. Yet, California’s eviction and foreclosure crisis is, by many accounts, getting worse.
Following the Council’s vote, Justice Cantil-Sakauye stated that “the judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the two other branches on a long-term basis to deal with the myriad of impacts of the pandemic.” With the repeal of the Judicial Council’s rules, the judiciary is no longer part of the process, and the task of developing longstanding solutions to California’s eviction and foreclosure problems is up to the state’s legislative and executive branches.
The End of the Council’s Order Doesn’t Mean the End of All Protections
When the COVID-19 outbreak began in the U.S., California tenants and homeowners were given some state and local protections from eviction and foreclosure. Since then, according to a recent report, over 100 California counties and cities have enacted stronger protections. Therefore, although California courts will no longer be under order to delay eviction and foreclosure proceedings, there may be some local ordinances and executive mandates in place that will prevent these actions.
California Lawmakers are Still Working to Protect Renters
According to a recent article, as of May, UCLA projected that 350,000 renters in L.A. County could be evicted when the ban is lifted. This number represents just some of the thousands of California renters who are at risk of eviction. The state legislature is taking the issue seriously, and lawmakers have been drafting legislation to assist renters. Assembly member David Chiu has introduced a bill, AB 1436. The proposed legislation would prohibit evictions until 90 days after the state lifts its pandemic emergency or April 1, 2021, whichever comes first. Gov. Newsom has also said that he is working on finding a solution for renters facing eviction in the state.
Landlords Should Watch and Wait
The eviction moratorium has been an incredible support for homeowners and tenants who are struggling to pay their mortgages and rents due to COVID-19. However, without rental and mortgage income, landlords and property owners have suffered significant losses. The end of the moratorium may send the signal that renters have to pay and can be evicted. That being said, there may be more protections in place for this group than meet the eye.
If a landlord wants to proceed with an eviction or foreclosure action after the ban is lifted, they should wait until after September 1, 2020. Additionally, Gov. Newsom may issue a new executive order protecting tenants and homeowners. Before moving forward with a California eviction or judicial foreclosure, you should consult with an experienced California real estate attorney to discuss your case’s facts, review local ordinances, and discuss any relevant legal developments.
Contact the Law Office of Raffy Boulgourjian
Attorney Raffy Boulgourjian is a California real estate attorney with over twenty years of experience representing clients in residential and commercial real estate cases. He has the knowledge and expertise to protect your interests during your real estate matter. Contact Mr. Boulgourjian today to schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your California real estate legal needs.