California Courts and Covid

In March 2020, the Governor issued an executive order giving authority to adopt emergency rules of court.  See https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200601-how-is-covid-19-is-affecting-relationships.  This article will discuss some of the changes that were adopted to allow California courts to respond to the Covid pandemic and provide information on the current :

 

  • In March 2020, time periods on hearings and trials were extended. 

 

The Judicial Council took action to extend the time periods on hearings and trials and to encourage the use of technology in the court. 

 

  • In April 2020, Temporary Emergency rules were adopted,

On April 6, 2020, the council voted remotely to approve 11 temporary emergency rules, including adoption of a COVID-bail schedule, staying eviction and foreclosure proceedings, extending statutes of limitations in civil actions, and extending timeframes for restraining orders. Two additional rules were added relating to electronic service and requests to modify child, spousal, partner, or family support. 

 

  •  In June 2020, Authority for bail schedules returned to local trial courts. 

On June 10, 2020, the council voted remotely to repeal emergency rule 4 relating to the COVID-bail schedule, returning the authority to set county bail schedules to local trial courts.

 

  • What were the limitations on evictions and foreclosures from the April 2020 Emergency Rule making.

Emergency rule 1 deals with unlawful detainer actions or “eviction actions,” and does not allow issuance of summons or entering of defaults in such actions unless the case involves public health and safety issues.  The trials have to be set 60 days after a request for trial. 

The second rule addresses judicial foreclosure actions, staying all pending actions other than those involving issues of public health and safety, tolling the statute of limitations on filing such actions, and extending the deadlines for election or exercise of rights relating to such actions.

 

  •  How have the April 2020 rules changed and where are we now?  

As of August 13, 2020 the Judicial Council repealed emergency orders suspending foreclosure and unlawful detainer actions in California’s courts, effective September 1, 2020.  See  https://www.courthousenews.com/california-court-administrator-repeals-emergency-bans-on-foreclosures-and-evictions/.  According to David Chiu, this is good news as it gives enough time for lawmakers to pass  a bill that provides protection from eviction.  Two bills are currently being debated in the Assembly and Senate.  One, Assembly Bill 1436, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB1436, would give tenants a period of time to earn money and pay it back, but would remove eviction as a remedy, but that measure is receiving some opposition from landlords who doesn’t feel that it gives them enough tools to avoid foreclosure since landlords would not be able to evict non-paying tenants until 2020.  Another bill, http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB1410, provides landlords will sellable tax credits to cover rent losses, but small landlords wouldn’t be unable to redeem the credits until 2024, which may mean too much stress on small landlords.  

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, the law is evolving, so seek legal advice.

With so much evolution in the law regarding landlords and tenants, many landlords or tenants facing eviction may need competent advice on what their rights are during the pandemic.  David Knecht and his team can provide current guidance on how to best proceed in the ever evolving landlord-tenant legal structure.  Contact him today with questions.