Q: I heard on the morning news that the governor of the state of California declared a state of emergency for California. What that does that mean?

A: A state of emergency is an emergency proclamation made by the President of the United States or a Governor to aid in the relief of a disaster. In California, the Governor recently declared a state of emergency for the wildfires that effected the state. However, any disaster can give rise to a state of emergency.  Most recently, a state of emergency was declared for Coronavirus/COVID-19. When a state of emergency is declared, a proclamation is made specifying what state, counties and/or cities are affected and what protections are being provided to help the effected individuals. 

 

Q: My tenant is refusing to pay rent because she claims that there is a state of emergency in place that says she does not have to pay rent. How do I check to see if this is true?

A: In California, the Governor will issue a proclamation of state of emergency that is posted on the Governor’s website and filed in the Office of the Secretary of State. You can find a copy of the 

The proclamation and information about it on the Governor’s website.  Generally, the website will have a news and updates section that will include a “proclamation of a state of emergency.” It is important to review the proclamation because it will state the specific counties or cities that this proclamation applies to. For example, during the wildfires the Governor issued a state of emergency in specific counties that were affected by the fires but did not issue one for the entire state. The current website for the Governor of California is https://www.gov.ca.gov/

 

Q: I know that there is a state of emergency in San Diego County for wildfires. How do I determine when the state of emergency will end?

A: Generally, a state of emergency is in effect for a 30-day period after the proclamation, or for the specific time period stated in the proclamation. However, the time period may be extended by the government entity that issued it.  It is advisable to check on the website of the issuing party before taking action that is averse to the proclamation. 

 

Q: I served a 60-day notice to quit on my tenant and it expires during a state of emergency. Are there any consequences if my tenant vacates during the state of emergency based on the notice I served?

A: Yes, the state of emergency places limitations on the future rent you may receive if your tenant vacates during the state of emergency.  If you cause a tenant to vacate by serving a legal notice or filing an eviction, then you cannot rent the property to a new tenant for more than the previous tenant paid per month. In this situation, if your tenant vacates during the state of emergency based on the 60-day notice that you served, then you cannot charge a new tenant more rent than the tenant that vacated. For example, if the tenant served with the 60-day notice paid $1,500 per month for rent, then you cannot charge a new tenant more than $1,500 per month.  Please note: Due to Coronavirus/COVID-19, the Governor of California proclaimed a state of emergency and the Judicial Council of California issued a statewide moratorium on all evictions unless the action is necessary to protect public health and safety.  You should consult an attorney prior to serving any notice during this state of emergency.

 

Q: My rental property is exempt from the rent cap laws in California.  I sent my tenant a 12% rent increase. My tenant called me and told me that my rent increase was illegal because San Diego County is currently in a state of emergency. Is my rent increase enforceable?

A: No, during a state of emergency you cannot increase a tenant’s rent by more than 10% of the value of the rent immediately prior to the proclamation of the state of emergency. However, there is an exemption if you meet certain criteria. You can increase the tenants rent by more than 10% if you can prove that the additional increase is directly attributed to additional costs from repairs or additions beyond normal maintenance that were amortized over the rental term or the increase was agreed to in writing. 

 

Attorney Franco Simone, of Simone & Associates and The Landlords’ Legal Center, has been doing evictions for over 20 years.  He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego. Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday-Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Tel: 619-235-6180, website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email info@simonelawfirm.com.