What the Eviction Moratorium Prevents
The County of San Diego Board of Supervisors has taken steps to prevent the eviction of residential tenants from their homes for reasons other than non-payment of rent.
On May 4, 2021, the Board of Supervisors passed an Ordinance (Ordinance No. 10724) prohibiting residential evictions without just cause. The moratorium, commonly referred to as the “Eviction Ban,” took effect thirty (30) days after it was passed by the Board of supervisors, which was June 3, 2021.
The Eviction Ban remains in effect until 60 days after the Governor lifted all COVID-19 related stay-at-home and work-at-home orders. This happened on June 15, 2021. So, the Eviction Ban will expire at the end of the day on August 14, 2021.
This moratorium now halts evictions based on 30 or 60 day notices, and even 3 day notices that allege lease violations, unless the landlord can show that the tenant remaining in his or her home threatens the “imminent health and safety” of occupants or other tenants.
The reason for the Ordinance is to close a loophole under State law that allowed landlords to file evictions with 60 day or 30 day notices to terminate alleging that rental properties are being removed from the rental market, or were going to be occupied by relatives of the owner, or for alleged lease violations.
The Eviction Ban does not protect tenants from nonpayment of rent cases if they are based on rent owed from March 1,2020 to June 30, 2021. However, these types of evictions are still covered by SB 91, and AB 832, which have extended the ban against evictions based on non-payment of rent.
- The San Diego County Eviction Ban does protect tenants from nonpayment of rent cases if they are based on rent owed from July 1, 2021 through 60 days after the local emergency ends on August 14, 2021.
Unless a landlord can identify a just cause (aside from non-payment of rent) he or she cannot lawfully terminate a residential tenancy. Without identifiying an imminent threat, landlords and property managers providers may not:
- Serve a notice of termination of tenancy;
- File or serve an unlawful detainer lawsuit, ejectment action, or other action to recover possession of a residential unit;
- Evict a Tenant or require a Tenant to leave a residence including by way of seeking entry of an eviction judgment or by causing or permitting a writ of possession to be executed, including in the case of judgments entered prior to the date of the ordinance; or
- Perform any other act relying on on a notice of termination of tenancy which expired during the Local Emergency, or attempt to make a tenant to vacate based on such a notice.
- Represent to a Tenant that the Tenant is required to move out of their unit by law.
Any notice of to terminate a residential tenancy that was served or
expired during the Local Emergency, or within sixty (60) days afterward,
is to be deemed invalid and insufficient to support an action in unlawful detainer during the Local Emergency or at any time afterward.
Prohibition Against Rent Increases
The Moratorium prohibits residential landlords from issuing a notice of rent increase for any amount that exceeds the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous year from the date the Ordinance took effect, June 3, 2021, through July 1, 2021. Moreover, a tenant’s failure, or inability, to pay any rent increase is not considered just cause for eviction.
The CPI for San Diego County urban areas during the year preceding May 2021 was 5.3 percent. You can read more about the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculation of the CPI by clicking here.
So effectively, if any tenant receives a notice of a rent increase up until July 1, 2021, even it if the amount of increase is allowable under the Moratorium, a landlord will still not be able to evict for non-payment of that increase.
Importantly, the prohibition against rent increases under the Ordinance does not apply to those properties that are exempt from Civil Code Section 1947.12. Click here to learn more information about whether the property you rent is covered by Civil Code §1947.12.
The Ordinance does not list the types of evictions that are still permitted. Instead, it requires landlords to establish “just cause” by specifically stating facts that show there is an “imminent health or safety threat” to other tenants or occupants of the same property.
This is a difficult burden to establish, and additionally, the court must also factor in the potential risk of the spread of COVID-19 if tenant is displaced and other remedies available to the landlord.
The kinds of evictions that may fit within the category of “imminent health or safety threat” include:
- Nuisance – Anything which is injurious to health, including, but not limited to, the illegal sale of controlled substances, or is indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.
- Unlawful use of the property – For example using a home or an apartment for use that is unpermitted, or outright illegal.
- Waste – substantially or permanently diminished the market value of the property as a whole.
If you are a tenant living in San Diego County and your landlord has issued to you a notice of termination since June 3, 2021, you can very likely resist any attempt to make you move. If the notice fails to assert that a tenant represents an imminent threat to health and safety, then it is fatally defective to the landlord’s case and the tenant is entitled to judgment.
Even if it does allege that your tenancy is a threat to health and safety, you may still be able to defeat any court case with effective counsel.
Under certain circumstances, tenants may even bring a lawsuit against a landlord who violates the Ordinance with .
Landlords that violate the notice requirements, or retaliate against tenants for the exercise of any rights under the Ordinance, or attempt to prevent a tenant from acquiring any rights under the Ordinance can be held liable in civil court.
Get Legal Counsel Before Making Assumptions
To fully understand all of your rights, and the protections offered to tenants in San Diego, it is extremely important to obtain legal counsel from a lawyer that specializes in landlord/tenant law.
The current legal landscape related to the COVID pandemic has changed the rights and remedies
available to tenants significantly. It is not a good idea to simply rely upon what you may have heard about these changes from the news, or friends or family.
Getting the correct legal advice to protect your home and business has never been more important.