County's Eviction Moratorium Ordinance takes effect amid pending legal challenge from SCRHA
Last updated 6/9/2021 at 10:25am
SAN DIEGO – Recently, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to pass an Emergency Eviction Moratorium Ordinance that indefinitely bans nearly all evictions within the county. The ordinance, which affects evictions within both the unincorporated areas of the county and within all local cities, went into effect June 3 – dramatically limiting the rights of property owners who rent out their homes, duplexes, condos, accessory dwelling units or apartments to tenants.
The Southern California Rental Housing Association has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court seeking an injunction against the ordinance, saying it threatens the livelihoods of thousands of county property owners – many of them independent, small “mom and pop” landlords – and strips them of their federal constitutional rights to use and control their own properties. Most troublingly, the ordinance fails to protect public safety because it doesn’t allow evictions of violent, lawbreaking or nuisance-creating tenants unless the landlord can prove an “imminent health and safety threat,” and it doesn’t allow financially stressed owners to move into their own homes.
“Housing providers need to be able to protect the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of a community with consequences for residents who cause problems. Unfortunately, the moratorium on evictions takes away that ability to deal with ‘bad apples.’ The sad result is that some tenants have been emboldened to continue their bad behavior – making life miserable for their neighbors,” said SCRHA 2021 President Lucinda Lilley, CPM®, CAPS®, GRI®. “We don’t take lightly the decision to pursue litigation, but we felt it was our only option given the effects of this extreme and unconstitutional law.”
The ordinance bars people who want to move themselves or their families back into their homes – affecting military service members returning from deployments. It also bars owners from evicting tenants who assault or harass owners, repair or service workers. The ordinance doesn’t allow evictions of tenants for creating a public nuisance, such as playing loud music in the middle of the night or screaming at other residents.
A tenant who violates the agreement by subleasing the property on Airbnb cannot be evicted under the ordinance’s strict language. Finally, an owner cannot evict someone for using the premises even for illegal activities such as prostitution or smoking methamphetamine – situations that have all been documented and reported by SCRHA’s members.
SCRHA is providing its members with extensive guidance about how the ordinance applies to their properties. The ordinance bans evictions except in the case of an “imminent health or safety threat,” but that phrase is not defined – making it difficult to prove.
SCRHA also requested a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the ordinance from going into effect while the case was proceeding through the court, but that request was denied on June 1. The next hearing in the lawsuit will be later this month.
The Eviction Moratorium Ordinance would end 60 days after all work-at-home and stay-at-home orders are lifted.
Submitted by Southern California Rental Housing Association.