The following analysis is provided by Klinedinst Shareholder Ian Rambarran, Chairman of the California MBA Legal Issues Committee.
California lawmakers grappling with the effects of COVID-19 are issuing guidance and changing the rules on a frequent, sometimes daily, basis. Requirements on the residential unlawful detainer front have changed again.
On March 27, 2020, Governor Newsom refined, and to a certain extent superseded, his March 16th order affecting residential evictions in California. In Executive Order N-30-27, Governor Newsom harmonized the patchwork of responses from various counties after his prior order suggested restrictions on residential evictions spurred by problems related to COVID-19.
Executive Order N-30-27 focuses on two parts of the eviction process – the filing of the lawsuit and the actual eviction by the Sheriff.
First, the Order extends the timeline for a tenant to respond to an eviction complaint from five days to 60 days, if the reason for the eviction is nonpayment because of issues related to COVID-19 and the tenant satisfies all of the following:
a. Prior to the date of the Order, the tenant paid rent to the landlord pursuant to an agreement;
b. Before the time rent is due, or no more than seven days after the due date, the tenant notifies the landlord that there will be a delay in payment or nonpayment due to reasons related to COVID-19. For example, COVID-19 reasons for default may stem from:
- sickness of the tenant or care of a household or family member with confirmed COVID-19;
- layoffs, employment hour reductions, the state of emergency or related government response to COVID-19;
- childcare issues because of school closures related to COVID-19.
c. The tenant verifiably documents the hardship by providing termination notices, payroll checks, pay stubs, bank statements, medical bills, and the like. The tenant can wait to provide this documentation to the landlord, but the tenant should do so no later than the time of payment of the back-due rent.
Second, the Order restricts the enforcement of a Writ of Possession while the Order is in effect and the tenant has satisfied the aforementioned requirements. Put another way, the Sheriff will not make arrangements to perform a lockout.
Tenants do not get a free ride, however. The Order makes it expressly clear that the tenant will be required to make back rent payments and that the Order does not apply if the tenant can make rental payments. Further, the Order will only remain in effect until May 31, 2020.
It is important to note that Executive Order N-30-27 does not affect commercial evictions. However, there may be restrictions on the commercial eviction front by way of local government action or some order in the future. For example, the Sacramento City Council passed temporary protections on March 25, 2020 to prevent commercial tenants from being evicted if the hardship stemmed from lack of patrons due to the state’s shelter-in-place order. To the extent there are problems in the commercial eviction space, a proactive dialogue between the landlord and commercial tenant is critical for business planning and operations, so it should be done without delay.
This article is intended to be for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal advice. The law is constantly changing and the information may not be complete or correct depending on the date of the article and your particular legal problem. The use of information from this article does not create any type of attorney-client relationship.
About the Author
Ian A. Rambarran works with the firm’s corporate clients, focusing primarily on business, financial services, employment, intellectual property, real estate, transportation, and construction issues. A graduate of the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Mr. Rambarran currently serves as Chairman of the California MBA Legal Issues Committee. He frequently counsels and represents clients in business and commercial disputes, and represents lenders and financial institutions in disputes throughout California. Mr. Rambarran can be reached at email@example.com.
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