California has had zero legally enforceable evictions since a landmark April decree by the Judicial Council, the state court’s rulemaking body.
But the Judicial Council could soon end the moratorium on commercial and residential evictions that has been the bane of landlords but savior to renters and some local officials including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
During a Judicial Council meeting Friday, Tani Canti-Sakauye, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, announced that the council “will soon consider rescinding temporary emergency rules” that “suspended court actions on evictions and judicial foreclosures during the covid-19 pandemic.”
Scrapping the eviction suspension “could take effect as early as August 14,” according to remarks Cantil-Sakauye made that were provided by the Judicial Council. The stated reasoning behind ending the eviction stoppage is that Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature consider policy proposals to protect tenants behind on rent.
But Cantil-Sakauye’s announcement reverberated among local government officials who lean on the Judicial Council order to provide legal authority for their own stitched together eviction moratoria.
“I was disappointed to learn that today the Judicial Council of the state may soon vote to end its statewide eviction moratorium as early as next month,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a press conference Friday.
“I agree with California’s Chief Justice that our state legislature should act,” Garcetti continued. “But the reality is that these measures need more time to pass. And the insecurity that getting rid of the eviction moratorium would give all the renters in this state would be very very bad.”
What state legislation could pass in the next couple of weeks and be signed by Newsom is unclear.
The legislature has not acted upon a bill introduced in April by Assemblymember Kansen Chu to codify the state eviction ban so long as California is in a “state of emergency” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps an unstated reasoning that the Judicial Council may scrap the eviction suspension is a lawsuit. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning group, filed a lawsuit last month against the Council.
The group argues that the moratorium is a “classic policy decision that is properly the legislature’s domain, not the Judicial Council’s.”
In the absence of state legislative action, cities and counties have cobbled together their own eviction suspensions, but those too face legal blowback.
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in June. That suit contends that city measures to let renters affected by covid defer rent “unconstitutionally targets landlords.”