San Diego County Eviction Moratorium – More Bad News for Landlords

San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors enacted Ordinance No. 10724 which went into effect on June 3, 2021.  The ordinance applies to all residential properties in the County of San Diego (there are no exempted residential properties), and prevents landlords from serving any notices of termination of a lease or filing for eviction except in the case of imminent threat to health or safety, or to recover unpaid COVID rental debt accruing between March 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021.  Imminent threat to health and safety is limited to criminal activity, nuisance, waste, or unlawful use of the property.  This means that property owners in San Diego County can no longer serve a 30 or 60 day notice to terminate a tenancy to move back into their properties, or terminate a tenancy in order to sell the property, or even serve a 3 day pay or quit notice for a tenant’s violation of the lease unless it’s due to a health or safety threat while this ordinance is in effect.  The ordinance is in effect through a date which is 60 days after Governor Newsom lifts the stay at home emergency order (predicted to be June 15, 2021 but it looks like Gov. Newsom has indicated he will be extending the order for a longer period according to his June 7 press release).  So if Newsom were to lift this stay at home order on June 15, 2021, the best case scenario is that this San Diego County ordinance will expire on August 14, 2021, but it doesn’t look like that will happen at this point. 

The worst part about this ordinance is that it applies retroactively.  What that means is that any prior termination notices that were lawfully served under Senate Bill 91, or any prior judgments, writs of possession, or settlement agreements are now invalid.  So a property owner who served a tenant with a 60 day lease termination notice two months ago, cannot evict the tenant based on that notice, and any prior writs of possession during this period that were issued by the court will not be enforced by the Sheriff. 

Additionally, all 15 day pay or quit notices for unpaid COVID rent debt required under SB 91, will now have to be re-served by all owners in San Diego County to include language required by the ordinance in order to be valid. 

Landlords will be permitted to file an unlawful detainer eviction starting July 1, 2021 against a tenant who doesn’t pay at least 25% of the outstanding COVID rental debt accruing between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 on June 30, 2021 pursuant to SB 91 which has not changed under the County ordinance.  Note that the 25% rent payment amount can also come through governmental assistance, so if the tenant receives governmental rental assistance and the landlord is paid a portion of the rent, the tenant cannot be evicted for non-payment.  Also, any rents accruing between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 can be recovered in small claims court by the landlord after August 1, 2021.

Under the ordinance, no landlord may increase any rents over the 4.1% CPI for San Diego County between June 3, 2021 and July 1, 2021.  After July 1, 2021, rents may be increased as permitted by law.

This ordinance is clearly all bad news for property owners in San Diego County, and much worse than even San Francisco’s eviction moratorium given that it is retroactive in nature.  It does not help tenants who lost their jobs during COVID and truly need the protections from evictions, and instead further penalizes landlords who haven’t collected rent for over a year and are now unable to sell or move back into a property they own.  If you feel this ordinance is a violation of your rights, you should contact the San Diego County Board of Supervisors You can read the San Diego County Ordinance 10724 here