California bans evictions for non payment triggered by the COVID-19 shut-down under Gov. Newsom’s executive order of March 27,2020.
The protection comes with a big IF: A tenant must act to trigger these protections, which run through May 31,2020.
Who is protected
The order covers tenants who have been
- laid off
- had hours cut
- suffered other income reductions
- missed work to care for a child whose school closed
The loss of income has to be traceable to the virus, the state of emergency, or related government response.
How to qualify
You need to do two things to invoke eviction protection.
One, you need to notify your landlord, in writing, that you need to delay, in whole or in part, payment of the rent due.
That notice needs to be given before the rent comes due or within 7 days of the due date.
Two, you need to keep paperwork that supports the claim that your income is reduced by COVID-19.
That documentation can be
- pink slips;
- payroll checks;
- bank statements;
- medical bills, or
- signed statement from your employer that explains your changed financial circumstances.
What protection is provided
The order makes two changes to existing law.
First, tenants get an extension of time to answer an eviction complaint.
Normally, a tenant’s answer to an unlawful detainer action (legalese for “eviction complaint”) is due 5 days from service of the summons.
The executive order extends that period for the 60+ days this order is in effect.
Second, no writ of possession may be enforced against a tenant who qualifies under the order. That means the sheriff can’t evict you if you have taken the steps above.
This order doesn’t seem to address the situation where the tenant was behind before the order became effective.
That situation may be addressed in further orders.
In most California counties, the issue may be moot because, independently, county boards of supervisors have instructed sheriffs not to enforce pending evictions.
What’s to come
I fully expect that this order or one like it will be extended if the economic shutdown continues beyond May 31. It’s hard to imagine that it won’t, as I write this.
In the meantime, stay home, stay healthy, and stay hopeful.