Can You Evict a Tenant in California During COVID-19?

It’s been California’s priority number 1 to minimize the number of evictions. However, little has been done to help landlords who are experiencing substantial losses as result of tenants’ inability to pay their rent.

On March 4, 2020, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency, hoping to alleviate the threat posed by COVID-19. Just a few days after, on March 16, 2020, Executive order N-28-20 suspended law limitations on evictions imposed by local jurisdictions.

On March, 27, 2020 Governor Gavin Newsom issued the Executive order N-37-20 banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19. 

On April 6, 2020, The Judicial Council of California in effect banned most evictions from moving forward.

On August 31, 2020, California’s Governor signed Assembly Bill No. 3088, which provides tenants with a blanket on state-wide evictions due to COVID-19 hardships through February 1, 2021

Even before the COVID-19 lockdown had started, California passed the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, commonly referred to as AB1482, which took effect on January 1, 2020. AB1482 specifies that a landlord may only evict a tenant should the landlord have a just-cause to do so.

California Eviction Moratorium N-37-20

There has been some confusion regarding the blanket provided by the State on ongoing evictions. Below, you will find some of the highlights on 

Executive order N-37-20 

  • Tenants should be given the period of 60 days to respond after being served with an eviction complaint based on due payment of rent. The defendants may claim the detainer complaint as unlawful if the tenant meets the following:
  • There shall be a period of 60 for any tenant served with a complaint that seeks eviction.
  • The tenant gives written notice of his inability to pay the full amount, due to COVID-19, seven days before the rent is due.
  • The tenant should present verifiable documentation to support the claim that he is unable to pay the rent in full. The documentation must claim inability to pay the rent either in its entirety or only partially and it needs to be delivered to the landlord before the rent is due.
  • The tenant is still held responsible for paying the rent in full. The order does not excuse the tenant of his legal commitment to pay. However, those unpaid amounts cannot be just-cause for eviction.
  • The order does not ban landlords from initiating an unlawful detainer action against a tenant.
  • Nothing in this order excuses tenants who aren’t affected by COVID-19 and are able to pay rent from doing it.
  • The sheriff is not banned from executing on a Writ of possession if the tenant does not meet all the requirements above.
  • The order does not prohibit a landlord from pursuing an unlawful detainer action.
  • The tenant must meet all the requirements listed above.

If an eviction is due to any other reason, both fault and non-fault evictions, the landlord can move forward with the process.

The order was initially in effect until May 31, 2020.

Update: On May 29, 2020 the Governor Gavin Newsom signed the executive order N-60-20 that extended the period through July 28, 2020.

Update: On June 30, 2020, The CA Governor signed yet one more extension  on the limitations on eviction through September 30, 2020.

Update: The State of California passed the order AB 3088, also referred to as COVID-19 tenant relief act of 2020.