Nonpayment of rent evictions can begin with new guidance from the Judicial Council

It’s been a wild ride lately for landlords, property managers, and real estate agents involved with multi-unit properties, but we are finally returning to some semi-state of normalcy.

The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (CTRA) put nonpayment of rent evictions on hold until October 5, giving the California Judicial Council some time to mull over the new law and find ways to implement it. What this policy-making arm of the judiciary came up with were standardized forms to use we will touch on here.

For landlords

Property owners endeavoring to evict because of nonpayment of rent or other charges owed must use the Plaintiff’s Mandatory Cover Sheet and Supplemental Allegations - Unlawful Detainer (UD-101). This basically tells the court what the underliers of the case are.

Does the case involve residential property covered by CTRA, or is it regarding a commercial tenancy that has its own set of rules? Furthermore, is the landlord seeking eviction for nonpayment of rent or some other theory? This form gives the courts a snapshot of the case. The supplemental cover sheet also enables the clerk to issue a summons and/or enter a default in cases before October 5, 2020, in cases when the underlying reason for eviction is not the failure to pay rent or other charges.

As of September 2, the courts have had the green light to hear nuisance cases, but except for the most egregious instances of tenant conduct, these cases have been delayed. Someone playing loud music at night might not be serious enough to be bumped to the front of the line. When we are talking about arson, violence, threats of violence, narcotics dealing, and so forth, those types of cases will be prioritized.

As a FYI, one asterisk for those of you in jurisdictions that do not have a more expansive list of “just cause” reasons to evict, Assembly Bill 1482 has laid out permissible reasons to evict, and they apply throughout the state.

For tenants

This may be disturbing for landlords who are given no breaks when it comes to unforgiving deadlines.

Under the new law, tenants have 15 days to declare a COVID-related hardship when his or her landlord attempts to evict them for unpaid rent or other charges. Yet lawmakers recognized that there might be a good reason why the declaration of financial hardship was not sent back to the landlord in a timely manner.

The Cover Sheet for Declaration of Covid-19–Related Financial Distress (UD-104) and Attachment—Declaration of Covid-19–Related Financial Distress (UD-104(A)) allows the tenant to argue there was a justifiable reason not to let the landlord know that they have been impacted by COVID within the statutory required 15 days (excluding holidays and weekends). Specifically, the tenant who has let the 15-day deadline expire must prove that it was because of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. If this burden of proof is met, the eviction case will be dismissed.

The forms can be downloaded here.

Parting thoughts

Throughout this pandemic, MT Evictions has been commiserating and strategizing with clients, but with the courts closed, have not had many solutions. We are encouraged that we can use the more traditional tools we have had in our toolbox, but rest assured, the reopening of the courts will have many bumps along the way.

This process is made much easier with our informed guidance.

About the author

As the team leader of MT Evictions, Paulina Martignon is the landlord's ally in transitioning tenants out of rental units. She is renowned for her educational events on landlord-tenant laws and rules and can assist with a variety of other time-saving tasks to help rental housing providers maximize their return on investment.


Questions? Get in touch for experience-driven advice.

If you have problematic tenants or other challenges in your landlording business, Paulina and her team can assist.