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Landlord Updates – Moratoriums on Evictions in Santa Clara County

by Henry Chuang and Julia M. Wei

Depositphotos 31410485 s 2019            In these unprecedented times, many local and state governments have taken various steps to protect tenants, in some instances including commercial tenants, from eviction.  On the state level, on March 27, 2020 Newsom issued an Executive Order effectively delaying all residential unlawful detainer actions.  The text of the Executive Order is here.  The Order gave all residential tenants an additional 60 days to respond to an eviction lawsuit if the tenants notified their landlord that they were unable to pay rent due to Covid-19 issues.  The California order did not stop or delay any evictions that were occurring for other reasons such as illegal activity on the property or an owner move-in.  This protection is to last until May 31, 2020 unless otherwise extended.

             On the local level, Santa Clara County has also issued a countywide eviction moratorium.  The order provides protections for both residential and commercial small business tenants.  Not only are failure to pay rent evictions prohibited, “no fault” evictions, such as ones where the owner is intending to move into the property or taking the property off the market, are prohibited during the prescribed timeframe.  However, the Santa Clara ordinance does not prevent evictions for other at fault evictions such as waste or breaching a material term of the agreement.

            From a practical perspective, any eviction requires the filing of an unlawful detainer in court. However most county courts in the San Francisco Bay Area are not processing civil matters presently. Santa Clara Superior Court has declared a court holiday until, at the earliest, April 28.  San Mateo County Superior Court has announced it will not be hearing law and motion matters until May 21, 2020.

During this time, almost all hearings and matters have been continued except for those deemed essential.  Santa Clara Superior Court has explicitly found that unlawful detainers are not essentially so no eviction for any reason can even commence, let alone be heard during this time.  Until this restriction is lifted, landlords are effectively prohibited from taking any actions to remove problematic tenants. 

While the court system is not available, there may be other alternatives to work with problem tenants that are available such as a negotiated buyout.  Please feel free to contact us so that we can explore different ways to assist you in these difficult times.

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