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New Protections Will Cut Down On Most, But Not All Evictions

A house is up for rent in Golden Hill, Aug. 7, 2020.
Matthew Bowler
A house is up for rent in Golden Hill, Aug. 7, 2020.

A new state law and a federal order from the Centers for Disease Control will help protect tenants from eviction during the next few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between the two of them, any tenant in California who can’t pay rent because of the financial or health impacts of COVID-19 will be protected from evictions until at least January 31st.

But navigating the protections, which include paying a minimum of 25% of rent from now until the end of January and filing signed declarations with their landlord, will still be a lot of work for renters.

New Protections Will Cut Down On Most, But Not All Evictions
Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

“I fear for people who are going to try this on their own,” said Greg Knoll with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, which represents tenants in housing court.

With housing courts reopening this week, landlords can now bring new eviction cases.

Social-distancing requirements mean the court is processing these slowly. But the Legal Aid Society fears that landlords, who for months haven’t received rent and have gotten little relief from the state or federal governments, will move aggressively to push out tenants.

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“What we’ve been seeing lately, which I never thought that we would, is landlord attorneys who are being in my view — not all of them — unscrupulous,” said Knoll. “They’re trying to get around all protections and filing papers that are bad, and should be thrown out. And they are (thrown out) if we’re there. But we’re not always there.”

The rules surrounding an eviction have also changed. Instead of just three days between a landlord giving a tenant a notice of eviction and their possible eviction, tenants now have 15 days. And landlords must provide them with the paperwork asking them if they’re not paying rent because of the impact of the pandemic. Tenants will still owe all of the back-rent owed to landlords accrued between March and next January.

People can still be evicted in San Diego for reasons of public health or other limited exceptions. The city of San Diego’s own, broader eviction moratorium runs through the end of this month.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department hasn’t stopped enforcing evictions during the pandemic. Since March, Sheriff’s Deputies have carried out 66 evictions with 43 of those coming in just the past month. Prior to the pandemic, the Sheriff’s department says it was serving over 400 evictions per month.

The Legal Aid Society of San Diego says it will have a website up on Friday specially geared to renters in San Diego County looking to avoid evictions under the new law and federal order.