Eviction FAQs

Background:

  • On March 16, the Governor issued Executive Order N-28-20 suspending state law limitations on local jurisdictions that impose restrictions on evictions regarding COVID-19 (paragraph 1 and 2 of this order were extended until July 28, 2020 per new Executive Order No. 66-20). 
  • On March 18, the County issued Emergency Order and Regulation No. 3 imposing restrictions on residential and commercial evictions related to COVID-19 (this order expired on May 31, 2020); and
  • On March 27, the Governor issued Executive Order N-37-20 directly modifying the residential evictions process related to COVID-19 (this order expired on May 31, 2020).  

Governor’s Executive Orders Providing for Moratorium on Actions for Eviction and Judicial Foreclosure

The Governor has issued two Executive Orders addressing evictions and foreclosures.

The first, Executive Order No. 28-20, which was issued on March 16, 2020, expired on May 31, 2020.  Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the order were extended until July 28, 2020

This order

(1) waives the time limitations set forth in Penal Code section 396, subdivision (f), which provide certain protections for tenants with respect to residential evictions;

(2) suspends any law that would preempt or otherwise restrict a local government from exercising its police power to impose substantive limitations on residential and commercial evictions where the basis of an eviction is caused by the COVID-19 emergency (e.g., non-payment of rent due to loss of income);

(3) suspends the statutory causes of action for judicial foreclosure and unlawful detainer used to evict an occupant or tenant from a residential or commercial real property where a local government has imposed a limitation on eviction pursuant to the Governor’s order.  

In addition, Executive Order No. 28-20 also made a number of requests to financial institutions and public agencies which have residential housing and commercial real property oversite authority to take certain actions to provide residential and commercial tenants and occupants with relief during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In support of the order, on March 25, 2020, the Governor announced an agreement with multiple financial institutions allowing Californians who are economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to receive 90-day grace periods to make mortgage payments. The Governor also obtained agreement by financial institutions that they would not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions for at least 60 days from March 25, 2020, and their agreement to waive or refund certain mortgage related fees and early CD withdrawal fees.

The second, Executive Order No. 37-20, which was issued on March 27, 2020, expired on May 31, 2020.  

This order, along with the emergency rules adopted by the Judicial Council’s Office, appears to obviate the need of local governments to address evictions via local emergency orders, at least through May 31, 2020, when the order expires (unless a further order is issued by the Governor extending the protections afforded by this order). Executive Order N-37-20 extends the statutory deadline by 60 days from the date of the order for a tenant to respond to an unlawful detainer action where a landlord is seeking to evict the tenant for non-payment of rent if the reasons for non-payment of rent were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or the emergency response to it. In this regard, the order sets forth criteria that the tenant may establish as to his/her inability to pay rent. The criteria in the Governor’s order is nearly identical to the criteria set forth in the county’s emergency order regarding evictions (e.g., where nonpayment of rent is due to a decrease in or loss of income resulting from the shelter in place order or medical issues caused by the pandemic). It also prohibits any writ from being enforced while the order is in effect (through May 31, 2020) to evict a tenant from a residence or dwelling for nonpayment of rent if the tenant satisfies the aforementioned criteria.

In addition to the two executive orders addressed above, on March 27, 2020, the Governor also issued an order (EO N-38-20) addressing the authority of the Judicial Council’s Office to enact emergency rules related to judicial actions and procedural deadlines even if those rules are in conflict with statutory law. In such case, the emergency rules take precedence over the statutory law. This executive order suspends any limitation in Government Code section 68115 on the subject matter that the Chairperson of the Judicial Council may lawfully address via emergency order. The order expressly states that the purpose of the order is to remove any impediment that might exist that would prevent the Judicial Council Chairperson from authorizing any court to take any action necessary to maintain the safe and orderly operation of the courts. Most importantly, the Governor’s order also “invited” the Judicial Council’s Office to adopt any rule that might be inconsistent with statutes concerning criminal or civil procedure in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judicial Council Emergency Rules Governing Actions for Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) and Judicial Foreclosure

On April 6, 2020, in response to the Governor’s “invitation,” the Judicial Council adopted several emergency rules.  Among these are Emergency Rule 1 and 2, addressing unlawful detainers and judicial foreclosures.

Rule 1 prohibits a court from issuing a summons to any tenant. (Cal. Rules of Court, Emergency Rule 1(b).) If a summons has already issued, the court is prohibited from setting a trial date sooner than 60 days after a request for a trial is made. (Cal. Rules of Court, Emergency Rule 1 (d).) The court is also prohibited from entering a default or default judgment in an unlawful detainer action. (Cal. Rules of Court, Emergency Rule 1(c).) Each of the foregoing prohibitions do not apply if the court makes a finding related to the protection of the public health and safety (e.g., the court may issue a summons if necessary to protect the public health and safety, etc.)

Rule 2 addresses judicial foreclosures brought pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 725a, including any action for a deficiency judgment. It stays all pending actions; tolls any statute of limitation for the filing of such actions, and extends any period for electing or exercising any rights under the judicial foreclosure statutory provisions, including the right of redemption.

Both emergency rules remain in effect until 90 days from the date the Governor terminates the state of emergency, or until modified or repealed by the Judicial Council.