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California Judicial Council Votes to Rescind Prohibitions on Eviction and Foreclosure Proceedings

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Former Senior Attorney
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By:  David Rao and Lyndsey Torp

The California Judicial Council’s emergency rules staying evictions and judicial foreclosures are coming to an end.

On March 27, 2020, the Governor of California issued executive order N-38-20, giving the Judicial Council emergency authority to act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California voted to approve temporary emergency rules of court. Rule 1 prohibited the issuance of a summons, or the entering of a default, in an eviction action for both residential and commercial properties except as necessary to protect public health and safety. Rule 1 also continued all pending unlawful detainer trials for at least 60 days, with no new trials being set until at least 60 days after a request was filed. Rule 2 stayed all pending judicial foreclosure actions, tolled the statute of limitations, and extended the deadlines for responding to such actions.

Rule 1 and Rule 2 were to remain in effect until 90 days after the Governor declared the state of emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic lifted, or until repealed by action of the Judicial Council.  On August 13, 2020, the Judicial Council voted 19-1 to sunset Rule 1 and Rule 2 as of September 1, 2020. Beginning September 2, 2020, California state courts are authorized to issue summons on unlawful detainer actions, enter defaults, and set trial dates on request. Stays on pending judicial foreclosure actions will be lifted.

Despite the sunset of these emergency rules, there are still a few things to keep in mind.  As to unlawful detainer actions, many California counties and cities have enacted emergency rules and ordinances in response to COVID-19 that still limit or preclude the filing of unlawful detainer actions.  As to judicial foreclosures, while the statute of limitations tolling provision in Rule 2 will sunset on September 1, Rule 9 tolls the statutes of limitations for all civil causes of action. Because Rule 9 was not included in the vote, tolling of civil causes of action will remain in place until 90 days after the Governor declares the state of emergency lifted, pending any further action by the Judicial Council.