California Issues New Emergency Rules Regarding Evictions

The new rules effectively prohibit evictions in the state by preventing the courts from issuing a summons.


California has issued new emergency rules regarding tenant-landlord communication. The new rules effectively prohibit evictions by preventing the courts from issuing a summons on any unlawful detainer complaint. This applies to both commercial and residential properties.


“The California Judicial Council issued new Emergency Rules of Court in response to COVID-19.  Emergency Rule Number 1 prevents California courts from issuing a summons on any unlawful detainer complaint, unless necessary to protect public health and safety,” Jamie Altman Buggy, an attorney at Crosbie Gliner Schiffman Southard & Swanson, tells “Because a court-issued summons is necessary for valid service of an unlawful detainer complaint, the practical implication of this rule is that California has banned all evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. This rule will last until 90 days after California ends its state of emergency or until the Judicial Council amends or repeals the emergency rules.”


In addition, the judicial council also stopped all pending and future judicial foreclosures. “Judicial foreclosures are not a commonly used remedy, and non-judicial foreclosures remain unaffected,” adds Buggy.


These new rules won’t replace any existing eviction-related ordinances, including new local ordinances that have recently bee legislated in response to this crisis. “These local ordinances, which are different in each city and county, address issues like when unpaid rent is due, whether a landlord can charge late charges and interest, and even whether landlords can serve certain notices of default,” says Buggy. “While some jurisdictions had previously decided to allow certain types of unlawful detainer actions—for example, where rent was unpaid prior to the pandemic—the Emergency Rules of Court make clear that courts may not issue summons on such actions.”


For this reason, landlords should remain continuously up-to-date on new ordinances, which are changing rapidly. “Landlords should continue to check the status of local ordinances in jurisdictions where they own property on a weekly basis, as new ordinances are still being enacted, and in many instances prior ordinances are being amended,” says Buggy.


These ordinances apply to all evictions, but still vary from market to market. “For the most part, local jurisdictions that have enacted eviction moratoriums prohibit eviction of both residential and commercial tenants.  Some moratoriums—for example, the one enacted by the City of San Diego—do not treat residential and commercial tenants differently,” says Buggy. “In contrast, the moratorium enacted by the City of Los Angeles provides residential tenants 12 months after expiration of the local emergency period in which to repay unpaid rent, while commercial tenants only have three months.”