Stopping Eviction Proceedings and Enforcement Actions During the COVID-19 Emergency

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Important updates to this story

  • March 25, 2020: Three important county-level measures halting or significantly slowing and reducing evictions during the public health emergency were passed in Bay Area Counties on Tuesday, March 24th. (For more detail, please see the story carried by CBS local yesterday):
    • Santa Clara County: The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure placing a temporary moratorium on all evictions within the county, effective immediately. The measure applies both to unincorporated Santa Clara Counties, and to each of the 15 cities within the county.
    • Alameda County: The Board of Supervisors approved an urgency ordinance halting evictions in unincorporated parts of the county if the tenant can demonstrate a substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 emergency.
    • Marin County: The Board of Supervisors approved a similar resolution, protecting renters and certain businesses from being evicted. It remains in effect until May 31st, and applies to both unincorporated areas of the county and the cities within the county.
  • March 19, 2020 @ 11:00am: BayLegal has signed onto a letter by Napa Valley Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) requesting that Napa County and its cities pass a moratorium on residential evictions and foreclosures in response to the public health emergency.  Read the letter on Napa Renter And Homeowner Protections.
  • March 18, 2020 @ 5:45pm: BayLegal learned today that the Alameda City Council passed an urgency ordinance, effective immediately and extending for 60 days, that provides all residential tenants a defense in an eviction proceeding for failure to pay rent (including the tenant’s share of the contract rent for Section 8 tenants) when the tenant is not able to pay rent due to a substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic includes: 1) a reduction of 20% or more of monthly gross pay; 2) extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; or (3) extraordinary child care needs. Landlords are also prohibited from shutting off utilities except in the case of an emergency such as an urgent repair to a water line. Read the text of the ordinance here.
  • March 17, 2020 @ 11:57am: BayLegal has joined a number of other legal and community groups in San Francisco to support a halt to eviction proceedings in the San Francisco Superior Court during the COVID-19 emergency. As of March 17th, some eviction proceedings were still scheduled to go forward beginning March 23rd, despite an earlier announcement that the Court would not move forward with them, and despite the declaration of a 6-county Bay Area “shelter in place” order.
  • March 17, 2020 @ 8:35am: Governor Newsom issued an executive order authorizing local governments throughout the state to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slow foreclosures, and protect against utility shutoffs. Action to implement an eviction halt or slowdown remains in the hands of local governments, but the executive order may provide a layer of state legal protection for cities and counties taking this step, while raising the visibility of the issue and building momentum.
  • March 17, 2020 @ 8:05am: It was confirmed late Monday afternoon that evictions have been suspended in San Francisco (but see here for an important update), San Jose, and Los Angeles as well, with more jurisdictions likely to follow.
  • Update March 16, 2020, 4:53pm: We have received news from the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) that the Alameda County Superior Court and the Alameda County Sheriff’s office have both agreed to suspend evictions. In EBCLC’s words: “That means no gathering in a crowded courtroom and, more importantly, no risk of being pushed out into the streets during this time. Thank you, community- we got it done.”


Baylegal’s advocacy in alameda county

In Alameda County, BayLegal has joined with partner organizations in advocating for a halt of at least 3 weeks’ duration in all unlawful detainer (UD) proceedings and eviction enforcements.

BayLegal attorney Hilda Chan
BayLegal attorney Hilda Chan testifies before Oakland City Council, 3/12/2020

On March 12, 2020, Bay Area Legal Aid joined our colleagues from the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), Centro Legal de la Raza, and the Eviction Defense Collaborative (EDC), along with a number of tenants’ organizations and community groups, in urging the Oakland City Council to request that the Superior Court of Alameda County cease all unlawful detainer (UD) proceedings for a period of at least three weeks as a public safety measure in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The coalition of organizations requesting this measure are united in seeing eviction court proceedings as an undue public health burden falling on very low-income, often medically at-risk individuals and families and their advocates, compelling them to appear in often crowded court facilities at a time when public health agencies are unanimous in recommending that such large gatherings of people in close quarters be avoided wherever possible. Further, removal enforcements in the midst of this public health emergency threaten to add individuals and families to the number of those living unsheltered and exposed to exacerbated transmission risk at a time when our public agencies should be doing everything in their power to minimize potential avenues for further spread.

In response to community and advocate testimony, Council adopted a resolution urging the Court to pause eviction proceedings for three weeks. The Court issued a press release on March 14, 2020, indicating several significant steps to mitigate exposure and transmission risk, with suspension of many in-person Court functions, and continuances in some ongoing proceedings, including those affecting evictions.

However, the Court’s announced actions in the case of eviction proceedings only cover a continuance of trials and settlement conferences for unlawful detainers set for jury trials. BayLegal has signed onto a letter to the court by EBCLC dated March 15, 2020, requesting further steps by the Court including:

  1. Continue all trials and settlement conferences for 3 weeks, regardless of whether they court trials or jury trials;
  2. Continue all ex parte hearings for entry of judgment;
  3. Cease all requests for entry of default, default judgment & writs execution; and
  4. Urge the Sheriff’s Department to cease execution of evictions.

We will continue to update this section of this page as new developments emerge.

Media Coverage:
Other Updates:
  • March 16, 2020 letter from EBCLC to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, co-signed by legal assistance and community organizations including Bay Area Legal Aid. The letter requests that the Sheriff’s Office stay all eviction enforcements effective immediately and for a period of at least 60 days, in order to protect public health during the COVID-19 emergency.