California tenants get more time to respond to housing eviction notices

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Tenants facing evictions will have more time to answer eviction proceedings under a bill signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown today.

Assembly Bill 2343 will give tenants three “court days” to pay rent or comply with other terms of the lease and gives them five court days to respond to an eviction lawsuit. Previously, the law allowed weekend and holidays to be counted toward the deadline to respond to an eviction notice or breach-of-lease notice.

“Legal aid attorneys across the California have reported incidents in which tenants are presented with a notice on a Friday before a holiday weekend and are essentially barred from correcting a breach of a lease or responding to a court summons because courthouses are closed or they cannot secure legal representation over a long weekend. AB 2343 will restore some fairness to the process and give tenants a chance to stay in their homes,” stated the announcement of the signing from the office of bill author Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco.

Renter rights advocacy group Tenants Together issued a report in May, “California Evictions are Fast and Frequent.” “Clerk default judgments” entered against tenants occur, the writers stated, when tenants fail to respond within five calendar days to their eviction lawsuit or have not filled out the forms correctly. Some defaults are entered by the courts.

In the North Bay, the group cited 2016 data showing there were 1,165 unlawful-detainer lawsuits filed in Sonoma County, and 40 percent had a default judgment — all except seven from the clerk — entered against the tenant.

That compares with 2,128 filings in Solano County with only five total default judgments, 415 lawsuits and 43 percent default judgments in Lake County, and 269 with 22 percent in Napa County.

The study cited “data base errors” for no results on Marin or Mendocino counties.

The new law is set to take effect on Sept. 1, 2019.

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