Updated Emergency Order Regarding Unlawful Detainer Actions

We have received a lot of questions about the state of unlawful detainer (evictions) proceedings in California. A previous blog addressed Governor Newsom’s order about bringing post-COVID-19 unlawful detainer actions. That post described the order as setting a minimum standard for commencing unlawful detainer actions. It also stated that stricter measures could be imposed by local or government entities. The Judicial Council of California was one such government entity that imposed stricter measures.

While Governor Newsom’s order regarding unlawful detainer actions provided limited means to do so, the Judicial Council of California all but shut that door, except in a very specific circumstance.

On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California (the rulemaking arm for all California Courts) issued an emergency order. The emergency order, among other items, addressed unlawful detainer actions in California courts. Specifically, it stated that no court shall issue a summons in an unlawful detainer action unless it is necessary to protect public health or safety. The order further provided that the earliest an existing matter could be set for trial is 60 days after the request for a trial, with matters already set for trial ordered to be moved 60 days. The emergency order is set to expire 90 days after the Governor ends the state of emergency in California.

The emergency order has shut down the only means to remove individuals from one’s rental property, except for the narrow “health or safety” exception. Given the 90-day expiration period, it could be months before landlords can start unlawful detainer proceedings again. Landlords are again left to carry the brunt of the financial effects of COVID-19.

However, on June 8, 2020, the Judicial Council of California convened to discuss and vote on ending the emergency order starting August 3, 2020. Unfortunately, after consulting with Governor Newsom and lawmakers, it was decided that the vote should be tabled. 

Following the decision, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye stated, I believe the executive and legislative branches will need more time to sort through various policy proposals.” She also said that the Judicial Council of California will continue to consult with Governor Newsom and lawmakers to develop a revised schedule to end the emergency order.

Clearly the time to revise the order was not right. It begs the question: When is the right time?

The one victory from the Chief Justice’s statement is the recognition that the order requires modification. In the meantime, landlords must wait and see how the Judicial Council of California proceeds. The hope is that the unlawful detainers can proceed sometime this fall. 

About Tim Burke

Tim is a licensed attorney in California and Nevada. He brings over 19 years of transactional and litigation experience to JohnHart. Prior to joining JohnHart, Tim was in private practice providing legal guidance to clients on Real Estate, financial, corporate, estate planning, and employment matters.

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