The California Apartment Association has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, contesting a policy that further delays evictions for unpaid rent accrued during the pandemic.

The lawsuit challenges a provision in the county’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium that requires landlords to serve a 30-day notice to pay rent or quit for unpaid rent covered by the moratorium. Although the moratorium expired at the end of March, the noticing requirement remains in effect.

The lawsuit argues that the 30-day requirement is superseded by California state law, which requires only a three-day notice to pay rent or quit before initiating eviction proceedings. Case law has held that while local governments can enact substantive defenses to eviction, they cannot interfere with state law eviction procedures.

CAA recently prevailed on a similar claim in its lawsuit against Pasadena’s rent control and just-cause eviction measure. In that case, Pasadena’s law sought to extend the notice period for owner-move-in and Ellis Act evictions to six months. In most cases, state law requires only 60 days’ and 120 days’ notice, respectively, though a shorter or longer period is sometimes required.

“The 30-day notice requirement creates confusion and delays the eviction process for rental property owners who have already been waiting years to get the rent paid because of the various eviction moratoria the county has imposed,” said Whitney Prout, legal and compliance counsel for CAA. “State law governs landlord-tenant notice timeframes to avoid such issues. Local governments cannot choose to simply ignore that.”

The county’s response to the lawsuit is due in late May.