COVID-19 NEWS California Courts Issue Emergency Rule On Evictions & Foreclosures

On April 6, 2020, the California Judicial Council adopted "emergency rules" that will effectively halt all unlawful detainer and judicial foreclosure actions.

UNLAWFUL DETAINERS

At its meeting on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California (the policymaking body of the California Courts) adopted emergency court rules which effectively stop all evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety. The rules apply to all California courts and all eviction cases. This stay will apply until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to COVID-19, or until the Judicial Council repeals or amends the emergency rules.

Emergency Rule 1:

  • Prohibits a court from issuing a summons on an eviction case, unless it is necessary to protect public health and safety. If a landlord files a new eviction case, the tenant will not be required to respond until the rule is lifted.
  • Prohibits a court from entering an automatic default judgment against the tenant due to a tenant’s failure to respond, unless the court finds both:

1. The eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety; and

2. The tenant has not appeared in the action within the time provided by the law, including by any applicable executive order.

  • For eviction cases where the tenant has already 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.

JUDICIAL FORECLOSURES

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

Emergency Rule 2:

  • 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 foreclosure cases.
  • Extends the period for exercising any rights in a foreclosure case, including any right of redemption from a foreclosure sale, or petitioning the court in relation to such a right.

These emergency rules effectively stay evictions and foreclosures through the summer.  However, these rules do not establish any new tenant rights or defenses to evictions.  Nor do they address requirements for tenants to  notify landlords or provide documentation when they are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 related reasons.  Nor do they address how repayment will be handled when these cases are eventually handled. The State Legislature will likely address these issues in coming months.

For more information about the Emergency Rules, visit the The Judicial Council webpage: https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/judicial-council-adopts-new-rules-to-lower-jail-population-suspend-evictions-and-foreclosures