Beginning September 1, 2020, the California Courts will once again have the authority to issue Summons, a necessary document required before the service of an unlawful detainer complaint. This is unless the California Legislature takes action to extend the eviction moratoria.
By way of background, on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California issued Emergency Rules in an attempt to curb the wave of evictions and foreclosures. Of relevant note, the Judicial Council of California’s Emergency Order Rule 1 (concerning evictions) provided for the following:
(b) Issuance of summons
A court may not issue a summons on a complaint for unlawful detainer unless the court finds, in its discretion and on the record, that the action is necessary to protect public health and safety.
(e) Sunset of rule
This rule will remain in effect until 90 days after the Governor declares that the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted, or until amended or repealed by the Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council of California’s Emergency Order Rule 2 (concerning Judicial foreclosure – suspension of actions) provided for the following:
Notwithstanding any other law, this rule applies to any action for foreclosure on a mortgage or deed of trust brought under chapter 1, title 10, of part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, beginning at section 725a, including any action for a deficiency judgment, and provides that, until 90 days after the Governor declares that the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted, or until this rule is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council:
(1) All such actions are stayed, and the court may take no action and issue no decisions or judgments unless the court finds that action is required to further the public health and safety.
It was anticipated that the Judicial Council of California was going to rescind the temporary eviction and judicial foreclosure ban at the June 10, 2020 meeting. Per Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the Judicial Council decided to suspend the vote, stating, “[a]fter discussions with the Governor, legislative leaders, and Judicial Council members—as well as hearing from residents with many different viewpoints—I have suspended for the time being the vote on the emergency rules dealing with evictions and judicial foreclosures. I believe the executive and legislative branches will need more time to sort through various policy proposals. (From the California Courts Newsroom, News Release dated June 10, 2020. Website: https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/chief-justice-suspends-vote-on-eviction-foreclosure-emergency-rules]
Fast forward two months. The legislature of California has taken minimal action to curb the eviction or foreclosure wave, which is highly anticipated. The Judicial Council was forced to balance the factors involving “tenants who fear homelessness to small landlords who face losing their livelihoods or fear bankruptcy” with the Governor and the Legislature’s lack of response, despite receiving additional time to develop and enact policy and legislative proposals. The result: the emergency protections will be rescinded, effective September 1, 2020, unless the Governor and the Legislature take action.
In parting, Chief Justic Tano Cantil-Sakauye stated, “I submit that our sister branches of government must address the possibility of pandemic-related evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness as a priority.”
In the end, the Judicial Council of California was only able to keep the flood-gates shut for so long. The message is clear, “California Legislature: Your Move!”