Currently, many courts have stayed evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courts in Contra Costa County are closed to evictions until at least April 28, 2020.
No new unlawful detainer [eviction] filings will be accepted. For those unlawful detainer matters involving violence, threats of violence, and/or health and safety issues, parties should seek a restraining order first, then seek permission from the hearing judge to file an unlawful detainer action.
Courts in Alameda County are closed to evictions until and including May 3, 2020.
Court clerks in Solano County are not processing defaults, setting trials or issuing writs of possession while the shelter in place orders are in effect. Unlawful detainer trials scheduled between March 17, 2020, and May 1, 2020, will not occur during that period and will be rescheduled.
Courts in San Francisco have stayed eviction cases for 90 days until June 19, 2020. Filings are being accepted, but March 18, to April 15, 2020, is deemed a holiday thereby delaying filings of certain documents during the holiday period. Trials and settlement conferences are also delayed during that 90 day period.
On March 27, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-37-20 extending the deadline specified in Code of Civil Procedure § 1167 for the filing of a responsive pleading to a suit for unlawful detainer to 60 days for qualified tenants, which order is operable through May 31, 2020.
Given all of these delays, and possible further delays depending on COVID-19, Landlords cannot help but wonder whether they will ever be able to collect rent, or lacking payment of rent, when landlords may resume unlawful detainer actions in the courts.
During the pandemic, evictions are out of the question. The good news is that if the landlord has a mortgage on the property, the landlords should also be protected from being defaulted with their mortgage lenders. Mendes Weed can help landlords with their lenders. Lenders such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are suspending foreclosures and evictions until at least May 17, and forbearance may be granted for up to a year. While tenants are protected until July 25, certain lenders for multifamily units of more than 5 units are offering forbearance on their loans of up to 90 days should the landlord agree not to evict any tenant who fails to pay rent during such time. Guidelines were issued by five federal agencies, namely, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Lenders operating under the CARES Act received guidance for loan modifications. If a loan is modified due to the impact on rents due to COVID-19, the lender cannot classify the restructured loan as troubled debt, etc. Landlords who have other lenders not subject to these governmental agencies will need an attorney who can effectively make the landlords’ case with the lender, possibly even with the courts in order to obtain equitable relief.
At Mendes Weed, we have client landlords who were already in the eviction process with their tenants when this pandemic arrived. Even though their tenants owed rent before the pandemic, the landlords are unable to continue with their eviction proceeding during the pandemic.
The United States Constitution contains a contracts clause within Article 1, section 10, clause 1. The contracts clause provides that a State is prohibited from passing any law that “impairs the obligation of contracts.” Although it may appear that our Governor in California is interfering with contracts, eventually, the tenants will need to repay the landlord the rent that is owed, or the landlord will be able to evict their tenants. For now, however, the world is dealing with a life-threatening virus, and these protections are in place to protect everyone from exposure to the virus. Eventually, the eviction stay will be lifted, and the tenants who are not paying rent during this pandemic will owe back rent.
Once the stays are lifted, attorneys practicing and landlords appearing before the eviction courts will need to show compassion to the victims of this pandemic while at the same time making sure their rights to receive rent are protected. The courts will want to see the tenants treated with compassion during these trying times. Aimee Morris represents only landlords in eviction proceedings and knows how to help landlords place their best case forward in court. There are ways to resolve unlawful detainer actions while ensuring that tenants feel respected and understood, while simultaneously making sure that all of the landlord’s rights are being protected.
As an experienced evictions attorney, Aimee Morris has prosecuted hundreds of trials against tenants and consumers in the California Courts. In the Bay Area, the courts expect tenants to be treated courteously. At Mendes Weed, it is not difficult to imagine that once the courts permit unlawful detainer actions again, that there may be further orders and rules created for the protection of tenants.
For instance, it would not be surprising if the Governor orders landlords to accept repayment plans for back rent owed. Judges might even strongly, albeit unofficially, encourage payment plans, otherwise known in an unlawful detainer settlement as a “pay and stay,” even if a landlord is able to prove their case for eviction. If the tenant fails to follow through with timely payments in a “pay and stay” settlement plan, the landlord can obtain a writ of possession and a money judgment without going to trial. Landlords and their attorneys will need to know all of the differing types of stipulations for settlement, making sure that the landlord is able to obtain a judgment for possession and money so that the landlord can regain possession of the property and be able to collect the back rent owing.
Once the courts reopen for evictions, tenants who are using this pandemic as an excuse not to pay rent will need to be evicted. Let Mendes Weed, LLP, help you with your unlawful detainer/eviction proceedings.