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Judicial Council emergency rule effectively stops evictions during COVID-19 emergency

House for Sale, Mortgage Rates
Posted at 3:40 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 19:13:00-04

(UPDATE: April 7, 4 p.m.):

As of today, following the Judicial Council's Emergency Eviction Rule, Attorney General Becerra issued updated consumer alerts for tenants.

1. Tenants still owe rent; if you can afford to pay your rent, you should.
2. If you cannot pay all of your rent, you should be aware that your landlord can still file an eviction case against you, but the case will not proceed until at least 90 days following the end of the state of emergency.
3. Local measures may offer additional protection, since they remain in effect following the Governor’s executive order. Research local eviction moratoriums that may apply in your area.

Tenants who do receive an eviction notice or lawsuit and are in need of legal guidance should contact their local legal aid organization.


The Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the California courts, has adopted an emergency court rule that effectively stops all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

The rule applies to all courts and all eviction cases, whether they are based on a tenant’s missed rent payment or another reason.

This new court rule will apply until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or until it is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council.

Changes in place with the new rule include the following:

  • Prohibits a court from issuing a summons after a landlord files an eviction case, unless necessary to protect public health and safety. This means that, even if a landlord files an eviction case, the tenant will not be under the normal five-day deadline to respond. The time for the tenant to respond to a new eviction case will not begin until the rule is lifted, giving them time to seek out legal assistance and assuring that no tenant’s right to tell their side of the story in court is denied due to the emergency.
  • Prohibits a court from entering an automatic default judgment against the tenant because the tenant failed to file a response, unless the court finds:
    • The eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety; and
    • The tenant failed to respond in the time required by law, including any extension that may apply due to the Governor’s Executive Order regarding evictions during the COVID19 emergency.
  • For eviction cases where the tenant has responded or appeared, prohibits a court from setting the case for trial earlier than 60 days after a trial is requested, unless necessary to protect public health and safety.
  • Requires any trial in an eviction case that was already scheduled as of April to be postponed until at least 60 days after the initial trial date.
  • Prohibits a court from issuing a summons after a landlord files an eviction case, unless necessary to protect public health and safety. This means that, even if a landlord files an eviction case, the tenant will not be under the normal five-day deadline to respond. The time for the tenant to respond to a new eviction case will not begin until the rule is lifted, giving them time to seek out legal assistance and assuring that no tenant’s right to tell their side of the story in court is denied due to the emergency.
  • Prohibits a court from taking any action or issuing any decisions or judgments unless necessary for public health and safety.
  • Postpones any legal deadlines for filing foreclosure cases.
  • Extends the period for exercising any rights in a foreclosure case, including any right of redemption from a foreclosure sale, or petitioning the court concerning such a right.

While these emergency rules effectively put evictions and foreclosures on hold at least through the summer, they do not establish any new tenant rights or defenses to an eviction, address requirements for notifying landlords or providing documentation when tenants are unable to pay rent due to loss of income or other COVID-19 related reasons, or address how repayment will be handled.
These are all issues that would be difficult for the courts to take on, or that they don’t have the authority to address.