California Judicial Council Exceeds Their Constitutional Authority
On April 6, 2020, the California Judicial Council adopted Emergency Rules limiting landlords from enforcing their basic contract rights against tenants. These rules prevent a court from issuing a summons in an unlawful detainer action, regardless if the action is based on the pandemic or not. If a summons cannot be issued, the unlawful detainer cannot proceed, as the tenant cannot legally be served. In addition, a landlord is prevented from filing for a default or obtaining a speedy trial date.
The actions by the Judicial Council, in this firm’s opinion, are a complete overreach of their constitutional authority. No other industry is forced to supply goods or services without compensation. As such, we have filed suit to end the implementation of these Emergency Rules. For more information, please visit my website:
Eviction Moratorium in the City of San Diego
The City of San Diego has issued a temporary moratorium on residential and commercial evictions where the ability to pay rent was impacted by the COVID-19 virus. It affects rent that was due on or after March 12, 2020. The tenant is required to provide written notice to the landlord on or before the date the rent is due. The failure to pay the rent must be directly related to the virus.
Within one week of providing notice, the tenant shall provide the landlord documentation or objectively verifiable information that the tenant is unable to pay rent due to the financial impact relating to COVID-19. If the tenant fails to provide this information, an eviction action can proceed.
If the tenant complies with the ordinance, a landlord is prevented from prosecuting any action to obtain possession of the property. Tenants, who are afforded this eviction protection, shall have up to six months from the expiration of the ordinance to repay this deferred rent. The ordinance, at the writing of this column, is set to expire June 30, 2020.
At the end of the six-month period, a landlord may evict a tenant who has not paid all of the outstanding rent. Nothing in the Ordinance relieves the tenant of the liability for unpaid rent.
How to Handle New Applicants
Under certain instances, a tenant can attempt to defer rent payments based on an inability to pay due to the COVID-19 virus. This has caused concern in some landlords who are now reluctant to lease out their units. They fear that the tenant will immediately invoke this protection. I am currently representing a client who just leased a large home in Beverly Hills. The monthly rent is $27,500. On the second month, the tenants informed my client that due to the COVID-19 epidemic, they will not be paying the rent. Of course, in this situation, that will not be considered a proper defense for non-payment of rent. My advice would be to continue to lease your units. You should screen your applicants more closely and consider the type of work that they do. If you believe that your tenant’s industry is subject to closure, I would avoid that applicant.
Terminating a Month-to-Month Tenancy in the City of San Diego
It should be noted that a month-to-month tenancy cannot be terminated in the City of San Diego, if it is based on a no-fault eviction. This would include service of a 30/60 Day Notice to Quit. This provision is contained in Ordinance 21177, which was passed on March 25, 2020. If you have previously served a Notice to Quit, you will be barred from filing or continuing to prosecute any unlawful detainer based on a no-fault eviction.
Tenant Is Not Employed
I have a client whose tenant is asking to defer his rent, on the basis that he is not working. While that is an accurate statement, this tenant has not held a job for over one year. This tenant is retired and is living on his savings and social security. The issue is whether rent can be deferred in this situation. Clearly, the tenant would not have the right to defer his rent payments. The law requires that there be a substantial decrease in household income as a direct relation to the COVID-19 epidemic. In this scenario, the tenant’s income has not changed. I advised my client to immediately institute an eviction if rent is not paid timely.
Dennis Block, of Dennis P. Block & Associates can be reached for information on landlord/tenant law or evictions at any of the following offices: Los Angeles: 323.938.2868, Encino: 818.986.3147, Inglewood: 310.673.2996, Long Beach: 310.434.5000, Ventura: 805.653.7264, Pasadena: 626.798.1014, Orange: 714.634.8232, San Diego: 619.481.5423 or by visiting www.evict123.com. Now, you can also read Dennis Block on Twitter, www.twitter.com/dennisblock or text him at (818) 570-1557. “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.