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County eviction moratorium to end Aug. 10

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 21:01:05-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The county's moratorium on evictions, which strengthened the protections already offered by the state, will expire Aug. 10 unless the Board of Supervisors acts on an extension.

The board voted 3-2 on May 4 to eliminate evictions except for cases in which there is an "imminent health or safety threat" to tenants or occupants of the same property. At the time, the state protections only outlawed evictions based on nonpayment of rent due to hardships from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The state moratorium on nonpayment lasts until Sept. 30. The county's moratorium, however, expires 60 days after the Governor lifted the stay-at-home order, which he did on June 15.

A county spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that the just-cause eviction moratorium expires Aug. 10, unless the board acts.

The Southern California Rental Housing Association challenged the county eviction ordinance in federal court. This week, a district court judge tossed the complaint, noting it was about to expire. However, the association immediately appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

Lucinda Lilley, the association's president, said there were fears that the county would move to extend the moratorium. She said while the state is reimbursing missed rent due to Covid hardship, the moratorium has made it impossible to deal with tenants who pose a threat, despite the imminent health and safety threat language.

"What is an imminent threat to the health and safety of another resident? Is it somebody threatening to murder them? Or is it somebody who is doing meth in the apartment next door, and what is that imminent threat?" she said.

Lilley said the association believes it would take an actual conviction to legally evict a tenant under the moratorium, which she said could take months.

"If there's a bad actor in a property, we can't do anything about it," she said. "And we're putting law abiding, good rule abiding residents at risk."

But tenants rights groups don't buy that rationale for the legal challenge.

"That's such a very big sledgehammer for something for, supposedly they're saying, a minor group of bad tenants," said Grace Martinez, who heads the San Diego Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

Martinez said each day she's forwarded copies of 5 to 10 notices of local no-fault evictions. In other words, she says the local moratorium is needed.

"And there's still thousands of tenants who don't know where to go," she said. "If that's how many we're getting every day, of bogus notices and just people self evicting, what is this going to look like once the Kraken has been unleashed?"

So far, no court date has been set for the Rental Housing Association's appeal.