On May 4, 2021, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that further restricts evictions in San Diego County. This moratorium stops evictions at all stages unless the eviction is necessary due to an “imminent health and safety threat.” This moratorium becomes effective on Thursday June 3, 2021.
The following questions and answers are only applicable to residential rental properties within San Diego County.
Q: I have a rental property in San Diego County and I need to serve a notice to terminate. What is considered just cause in San Diego County?
A: From June 3, 2021 until 60 days after the Governor lifts all COVID-19-related stay-at-home and work-at-home orders, the only “just cause” to evict a tenant in San Diego County will be tenants who pose as a “hazard to the health or safety of other tenants or occupants of the same property.” When applying this “just cause” you must take “into account (1) the risk of potential spread of coronavirus caused by the eviction, in case of a Local Emergency due to COVID-19, (2) any public health or safety risk caused by the eviction, and (3) all other remedies available to the landlord and other occupants of the property, against the nature and degree of health and safety risk posed by the tenant’s activity. The hazard to the health or safety of other tenants cannot be the Resident’s COVID-19 illness or exposure to COVID-19, whether actual or suspected.”
Q: I served a sixty- day notice on April 15, 2021 that I would be occupying my rental property as my principal residence. Does the eviction moratorium invalidate my notice?
A: Yes, even though this ordinance/eviction moratorium does not become effective until June 3, 2021, your notice will be defective and will not support an eviction. Further, any notice not based on the new County “just cause” will not support an eviction under the new County ordinance. You need to consult an attorney immediately to discuss your options.
Q: My property manager told me the notice that was served on my tenant does not include the “just cause” under the County of San Diego eviction moratorium. If my notice does not include the new County “just cause” what actions am I prohibited from taking on the notice served?
A: If your notice is lacking the new County “just cause” and your property is located in the County of San Diego you are prohibited from engaging in the following:
- Serving a notice of termination of tenancy;
- Filing or serving an unlawful detainer lawsuit, ejectment action, or other action(s) to recover possession of a residential unit;
- Evicting a tenant or requiring a tenant to vacate a residential unit, including by seeking the entry of an eviction judgment or by causing or permitting a writ of possession to be executed, including in the case of judgments entered prior to the date of this ordinance; or
- Taking any other action in reliance on a notice of termination of tenancy that expired during the Local Emergency or attempting to induce a tenant to vacate based on such a notice. Any notice of termination of tenancy served or expiring during the Local Emergency or within sixty (60) days afterward shall be deemed invalid and insufficient to support an action in unlawful detainer during the Local Emergency or at any time afterward; or
- Representing to a tenant that the tenant is required to move out of their unit by law.
Q: I recently filed an unlawful detainer case in San Diego County and it is based on a notice that does not include the new County “just cause.” Can I still proceed with my eviction?
A: No, as of June 3, 2021 you may not proceed with the eviction and if you do so, you may be subject to a lawsuit from your tenant(s). Consult with an attorney as to whether or not you will need to dismiss your case.
Q: My tenant is causing an imminent health and safety threat to the other tenants at my apartment building. Does the San Diego County eviction moratorium require specific language be in my termination notice?
A: Yes, in addition to complying with all local, state, and federal laws any notice served on your tenant must include the following language in bold underlined 12-point font: “The Emergency Eviction Moratorium is currently in effect. Other than for failure to pay rent or an imminent health or safety threat, evictions are restricted during the Local Emergency declared by the County of San Diego. Tenants who are being evicted for failure to pay rent may have additional protections under California law. You may contact Legal Aid Society of San Diego (1-877-534- 2524) or the Legal Referral and Information Service of the San Diego County Bar Association at 619-231-8585 or 800-464-1529. For additional information and referrals or visit https://www.lassd.org .”
Q: I have not increased my tenants rent in two years and was planning on increasing rents in June 2021. Does the current San Diego County eviction moratorium limit my ability to increase my tenant’s rent?
A: Yes, from June 3, 2021 to July 1, 2021, a landlord may not increase a tenant’s rent by any amount greater than the CPI for the previous year. The rent increases are limited to the change in CPI from April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021. The San Diego County eviction moratorium restricts rent increases on residential properties where the California rent control law already applies. Additionally, California law also prohibits any rent increases on tenants that have provided their landlords with a Declaration of COVID-19 Financial Distress. I recommend that you wait until after July 1, 2021 to send out any rent increase notices and make sure you follow the State rent control laws applicable to your property.
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 [email protected].