California Eviction Moratorium to End Sept. 1, Judicial Council Says

Houses in Mountain View, pictured on Feb. 19, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The Judicial Council of California voted Thursday to end its moratorium on evictions and foreclosure filings on Sept. 1, about two weeks later than they were initially set to end.

The move gives lawmakers a little more time to fashion new protections for millions of California tenants facing eviction, and property owners struggling to pay their mortgages.

Legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom are knee-deep in negotiations over a long-term solution, which would pick up when the current moratorium expires. Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, who authored AB 1436 — one of the bills under consideration — told KQED those two weeks are preciously needed time.

"We are breathing a very quick sigh of relief, but we have a ton of work in front of us," Chiu said. "We simply cannot allow a massive wave of evictions to occur in California. It would be catastrophic."

"The human suffering would be extraordinary," Chiu said.

Roughly 4 million California renters are at risk for eviction by the end of September, according to a model to predict national eviction risk developed by The Aspen Institute, a coalition of economists and legal experts.

The Judicial Council – the state court system's policymaking body – first enacted an emergency eviction moratorium and halt on foreclosures in an April decision, which they were poised to end in June. But California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye called off that vote to provide more time to Gov. Newsom and the legislative branch to find an alternative solution to halt evictions.

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"The Judicial Council has received thousands of comments from those affected – from tenants who fear homelessness to small landlords who face losing their livelihoods or fear bankruptcy," Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement.

"I promised the Governor that we would assume this responsibility with the greatest care," Cantil-Sakauye added, but "the duty of the judicial branch is to resolve disputes under the law and not to legislate."

The legislative branch is negotiating solutions, even now.

Legislative Solutions

AB 1436 proposes extending eviction moratoriums for as long as California remains in a state of emergency, and includes extra time for landlords and any homeowners to pay their mortgages in the form of forbearance. The bill largely has the backing of tenants groups and unions.

Lawmakers are also considering Senate Bill 1410, introduced by state Sen. Anna M. Caballero, D–Salinas, and others.

That bill would offer tax credits to property owners to make up for any unpaid rent due to the pandemic. SB 1410's backers include advocacy groups representing property owners, like the California Apartment Association.

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SB 1410 "offered a solution that will help housing providers continue to pay their bills, and their employees, while also making it a little easier for struggling renters to get back on their feet financially when the pandemic ends," said Debra Carlton, the Apartment Association's executive vice president of state government affairs and compliance, in a statement.

While Chiu said talks are early, he said it's important any final compromise bills include enough time for tenants to repay any owed rent.

"That's what we are trying to figure out. What does that timeframe look like with the uncertainty of stay-at-home orders and this economy? And it's very difficult to predict," Chiu said.

"But we know the longer this goes on, the harder it is for tenants to make it. But also it creates ripple effects with other parts of the economy, (like) struggling landlords and homeowners who are trying to make mortgages."