Unlawful Detainer Actions/Evictions during the COVID 19 Pandemic
On April 6, 2020 the Judicial Council adopted Emergency Rule 1 related to Unlawful Detainers. This Rule applies to all Unlawful Detainer Actions and with some limited exceptions, it effectively puts a halt on most evictions. Under the new Rule:
- A court can’t issue a Summons on a Complaint (lawsuit) for Unlawful Detainer unless it is necessary to protect public health and safety.
- A landlord can still file an Unlawful Detainer Action against a tenant, however, in most cases, the landlord will not receive the Summons from the court. The time for a tenant to respond (file an Answer) to an Unlawful Detainer case does not begin until the tenant is served with the court issued Summons.
- A court can’t enter a default or default judgement against a tenant for the tenant’s failure to respond to the Unlawful Detainer Action unless the action is necessary to protect public health and safety and the tenant failed to respond in the time required by law, including any extension applicable due to the Governor’s Executive Order regarding Unlawful Detainers during the COVID 19 pandemic.
- Any Unlawful Detainer trial that was already scheduled prior to April 6, 2020 will be rescheduled at least 60 days from the initial trial date.
- This Rule will remain in effect until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID 19 pandemic, or until it is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council.
Since a court cannot issue a Summons or enter a default unless an exception applies, then essentially a tenant can’t be evicted from a property as long as this Rule remains in effect.
*In addition to Rule 1, each city and county may have its own set of more restrictive rules.
Claudia Aceves is a Partner at the Modesto office of Borton Petrini, LLP.
Legal Disclaimer: Please be informed that legislation and laws are rapidly developing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the legal analysis that is being provided is based on the analysis of the current legislation and current agency guidance, as it stands at this moment. Additional legislation and/or changes to current legislation may impact the information being given herein. This article is designed for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.