State legislative leaders are seeking more time to craft a bill protecting as many as 1.5 million California renters from eviction during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter sent Wednesday to state Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Senate and Assembly leaders asked her to postpone an end to the statewide eviction ban for at least three weeks.
The state Judicial Council put a freeze on most court eviction proceedings in April, effectively protecting tenants who stopped paying their rent. Unless amended, the ban is in effect for three months after the state of emergency adopted on March 4 is lifted.
The Judicial Council, which oversees the state court system, also froze court foreclosure proceedings, although most foreclosures in California take place outside of the court system.
But Cantil-Sakauye issued a statement July 24 calling for a vote to end the emergency court freezes by Aug. 14, saying the governor and lawmakers need to act now that the Legislature is back in session.
“The remedies that we sought for all the affected parties are best left to the legislative and executive branches of government,” she said at the time.
In their letter this week, state Sen. President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and three others said it will be impossible for the legislature to act by mid-August.
Lifting the statewide bans by Aug. 14 puts the legislature in an impossible position, the letter states. They’d have to choose between rushing a law into print or allowing evictions and judicial foreclosures to resume.
The two leading measures containing tenant eviction protections won’t come up for hearings until mid-August.
“Speeding up the legislative process is nearly impossible, given the current precautions needed to reduce the risk of viral transmission during legislative business,” the letter says.
The letter requests the Judicial Council keep both the eviction and judicial foreclosure freezes in place until Sept. 5.
“Doing so will give the legislature and the governor sufficient time to craft a solution to this problem without endangering potentially millions of Californians,” the letter said.
Tenants rights activists have been warning about a potential wave of evictions if new measures aren’t adopted.
As many as 1.5 million renters could be behind on their rent, exposing them to possible evictions down the road.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest household survey found that 14.4% of renters responding failed to pay their June rent on time — equivalent to more than 1.55 million tenants. The California Apartment Association estimates that about 10% of renters are not paying their rent.
About a third of California cities and counties enacted local tenant protections, but the Judicial Council eviction ban is the only measure protecting renters in the remaining 367 municipalities.
The Judicial Council’s office couldn’t be reached for reaction to the legislative leaders letter. A vote to rescind the judicial eviction ban has yet to be scheduled.
Source: Orange County Register