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California Eviction Freeze Will End Sept. 1

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STAFF REPORT • August 14, 2020

On a 19-1 vote, the California Judicial Council has voted to end its freeze on eviction cases early, giving Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers three weeks to come up with their own plan to protect  4 million renters.

Two emergency rules freezing court eviction cases and court foreclosures will end Sept. 1,

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauyen  said in a statement, “The judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches on a long-term basis to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic. The duty of the judicial branch is to resolve disputes under the law and not to legislate. I urge our sister branches to act expeditiously to resolve this looming crisis.”

In that same statement, Cantil-Sakauye said the Judicial Council received thousands of comments, both from tenants who fear homelessness and from small landlords who face the loss of their livelihoods or fear bankruptcy.

It was originally scheduled to end August 14, but Cantil extended the freeze. Assembly Housing Committee chair David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Said in a statement, “This gives the legislature enough time to pass a solution to prevent evictions and foreclosures without a gap in protections,” Chiu said.

Chiu’s proposal is AB 1436, one of two bills under review to protect tenants unable to pay rent due to the pandemic.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin argued that nearly 400,000 families in L.A. County, almost half with children, face possible eviction if the bill isn’t passed.

AB 1436 would ban evictions until 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted or next April, whichever occurs first. Tenants then would have a year to repay back rent.

About a third of California cities and counties enacted tenant protections of their own. But Gary Blasi of the UCLA Luskin Institute argued local eviction ordinances may be ineffective because most tenants don’t know the rules, which vary from city to city, and very few have access to timely legal assistance.

Blasi wrote, “California, and especially Los Angeles, is in the middle of a perfect storm of high unemployment and high rent burdens. Los Angeles faces waves of evictions and those evictions will result in many more people becoming homeless.”