Judicial Council to vote by Thursday on resuming unlawful detainers

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California’s Judicial Council will vote by noon Thursday whether to allow the courts to resume processing unlawful detainer cases effective Sept. 1.

Last month, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye suggested the courts could decide to resume hearing eviction cases effective Aug. 14. Today, however, she asked her colleagues on the Judicial Council to consider pushing back the date by a couple of weeks, which would coincide with the end of the Legislative session.

The Judicial Council’s rules were put in place in early April, bringing to a halt nearly all eviction actions in the state. The action came in response to the financial hardships that many tenants faced due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Cantil-Sakauye said the council imposed the rules — with Rule 1 pertaining to unlawful detainers — because the Legislature had been out of session and unable to take up the matter.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

She said today that the judicial branch cannot take over the duties of the Legislature and governor in the long-term.

“The duty of the judicial branch is to resolve disputes under the law and not to legislate,” Cantil-Sakauye said in this news release. “So I urge our sister branches to act expeditiously to resolve this looming crisis. They have had since March 2020 to explore remedies that will provide fairness to all parties while recognizing the limitations the pandemic has placed on our residents and our institutions.”

Debra Carlton, executive vice president of state public affairs at the California Apartment Association, said the association continues to encourage its members to work with struggling tenants as the impacts of the pandemic linger.

“We certainly don’t want to see evictions for nonpayment of rent when a tenant has been affected by COVID,” Carlton said. “We have seen an abundance of property owners who are working with tenants to ensure that doesn’t happen. Owners have repayment plans and have forgiven the rent in many situations. At the same time, the local eviction moratoriums will still be in place to protect tenants from eviction for nonpayment when they have been affected by COVID.”

In fact, CAA objected to the Judicial Council’s Rule 1 because it prevented landlords from taking necessary steps to protect their good renters.

“What we need is the ability to move out tenants who have created a hostile environment for the other tenants,” Carlton said. “This has truly not been possible under Rule 1.”  

Now, the Legislature has the remainder of the month to find an equitable solution that protects both renters and property owners.

“We urge lawmakers to pass legislation that keeps tenants housed but also compensates landlords for providing that housing,” added Tom Bannon, chief executive officer of the California Apartment Association. “Otherwise, mortgages won’t get paid, employees won’t get paid, and rental housing will disappear from the market.”

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