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SUMMARY: California Courts issue Emergency Rule on Evictions and Foreclosures

At its meeting on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council adopted an emergency court rule that effectively stops all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of  the COVID‐19 emergency. The rule is applicable to all courts and to all eviction cases, whether they are  based on a tenant’s missed rent payment or another reason. This new court rule will apply until 90 day after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID‐19 pandemic, or until it is amended  or repealed by the Judicial Council. The rule:

  • Prohibits a court from issuing a summons after a landlord files an eviction case, unless necessary to protect public health and safety. This means that, even if a landlord files an eviction case,  most tenants will not need to respond until the emergency rule expires, ensuring that tenants  do not lose their right to tell their side of the story in court due to the emergency.
    • The time for a tenant to respond to a new eviction case does not begin until the tenant  is served with a court‐issued summons, and in nearly all unlawful detainers cases, no  summons will be issued during this emergency period.
    • If a court finds on the record that an eviction action is necessary to protect public health  and safety, the court will issue a summons even during this emergency period. Only in  these rare cases will a tenant be required to respond in court after being served with  the summons and complaint.
  • Prohibits a court from entering a default judgment against the tenant because the tenant failed to file a response, unless the court finds on the record:
    • The eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety; and
    • The tenant failed to respond in the time required by law, including any extension that  may apply due to the Governor’s Executive Order regarding evictions during the COVID19 emergency.
  • For eviction cases where the tenant has responded or appeared, prohibits a court from setting the case for trial earlier than 60 days after a trial is requested, unless necessary to protect public  health and safety.
  • Requires any trial in an eviction case that was already scheduled as of April to be postponed  until at least 60 days after the initial trial date.

In addition, the Judicial Council adopted an emergency rule related to judicial foreclosures. This rule also applies until 90 days after the Governor lifts the COVID‐19 state of emergency. The rule:

  • Prohibits a court from taking any action or issuing any decisions or judgments unless  necessary for public health and safety.
  • Postpones any legal deadlines for filing judicial foreclosure cases.
  • Extends the period for exercising any rights in a judicial foreclosure case, including any right  of redemption from a foreclosure sale, or petitioning the court in relation to such a right.

Note that this rule does not impact non‐judicial foreclosures, which comprise the vast majority of  foreclosures in California. Non‐judicial foreclosure sales are conducted by private parties outside the  courthouse and are not affected by these new emergency rules.

While these emergency rules effectively put evictions and judicial foreclosures on hold at least  through the summer, they do not establish any new tenant rights or defenses to an eviction, address  requirements for notifying landlords or providing documentation when tenants are unable to pay  rent due to loss of income or other COVID‐19 related reasons, or address how repayment will be  handled. These are all issues that would be difficult for the courts to take on, or that they don’t have  the authority to address. We expect that the Legislature will address these issues with urgency when  it returns in May.

Coronavirus: California courts halt all lender foreclosures, renter evictions

“We are extremely relieved that the Judicial Council has shown the type of leadership we need to make sure that basic, straightforward protections are in place, reducing any immediate risk to tenants and allowing them to focus on protecting their health and safety without worrying about losing their homes at a time when they are being told to shelter in place to avoid the spread of a highly contagious and deadly virus,” stated Western Center on Law & Poverty, a tenant rights group.”

Coronavirus: California courts halt all lender foreclosures, renter evictions

California court leaders suspend evictions amid pandemic

“Sasha Harnden, housing policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, said the council’s ruling is an important step.

“This is the type of straightforward, broad protection that we have been wanting to see from our leaders to give people comfort while we address the massive economic impacts of this crisis,” he said.”

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California Courts suspend most evictions during Shelter-in-Place

Today, the Judicial Council, the head of California Courts, issued new rules for court cases in California during COVID-19. The new rules include protections for tenants that will achieve the priorities expressed by the Governor’s March 27th Executive Order, which state that a public health crisis is not the time to proceed with evictions. The rules suspend tenants’ obligation to quickly file a response to eviction cases, state that no default judgments for eviction will be issued against tenants during shelter-in-place, and suspend all orders to appear in court for eviction cases. Our summary of the rule on evictions and foreclosures can be found here.

This effectively suspends most evictions during the Covid-19 State of Emergency.

These rules issued by the Judicial Council are imperative for maintaining public health; the health of court workers, defendants, tenants, landlords, and the rest of the public rests on a maximum number of people possible staying in their homes, per Governor Newsom’s March 20th stay-at home order. Tenants must maintain housing at this time.

The leadership shown by the Judicial Council recognizes the impact of California law in real life, and ensures that the intention of orders from the Governor play out appropriately for people on the ground.