eviction moratorium

San Diego's Eviction Moratorium Temporarily Puts Court Decisions in Gray Area

NBC 7 Responds looked at the most recent ordinance ahead of it going into effect

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Eviction moratoriums have been in place for most of the pandemic, but that hasn't stopped cases. Now, the county's most recent ordinance might change the way evictions could be obtained by landlords.

"We're not sure what's going to happen with those because the way the ordinance is written, it's technically retroactive," said Erin Rounds of the Tenants Legal Center.

The ordinance was passed by the County Board of Supervisors on May 4th, but doesn't go into effect until June 3rd. Rounds said that means it could effect eviction proceedings currently being processed by the courts. The number of lockouts being performed by San Diego Sheriff's department had been increasing in the first quarter of 2021.

On Friday, Rounds will ask a San Diego judge to halt any current decisions in eviction cases. That's because she says the county's ordinance would mean any judgment not based on a "just cause of termination of tenancy" would be invalid.

"It could potentially apply to any judgment obtained between when the ordinance was passed and when it would go into effect," said Rounds. "We would have to file appeals, the court would have to re-hear a lot of issues. It would be emergency hearing after emergency hearing."

Rounds said that while the judgments might be called into question, there should be no question about who is protected and what the limits are of the moratorium.

"The intent of the Board of Supervisors was very clear," said Rounds. "That no one should be evicted for anything other than posing a health and safety risk either to maybe their landlord or to other tenants."

The ordinance's clarity was to help close any loopholes that existed in the statewide moratorium. The combination of federal, state, and local moratoriums can also be a tangled legal web to navigate.

"We have to balance our interests in telling our clients what might be happening versus what's currently happening and what we think should be happening," said Rounds.

Even if you are not posing a health or safety risk, there are still ways you might be given a 60 day notice to vacate your rental. Those can include:

  • The landlord removing the property from the rental market
  • Needed repairs to a building or apartment
  • A violation of a lease agreement

The biggest issue right now is if the courts will delay judgments until there's more clarity and precedent for eviction cases to continue.

"I'm asking the court to essentially stop any cases from being heard until we have a decision from either the federal court regarding the injunction or until the ordinance goes into effect," said Rounds. "Once you're evicted, there's not much anyone can do to get you back in."

Renters are still required to pay back rent under the new ordinance, but it does not require people to file a declaration of financial hardship. Rounds also said there is still unused funding for both renters and landlords.

You can find more about rental assistance on the county's housing commission website here.

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