Bakersfield, California; June 15, 2020Two landlords filed a lawsuit today challenging California courts’ refusal to hear eviction proceedings. In its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency that oversees California’s courts declared that courts would not consider eviction cases for the duration of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state-of-emergency declaration plus 90 days.  

California’s de facto ban on evictions — even where tenants are able to pay rent but simply refuse to — was enacted by the California Judicial Council, which lacks the authority to issue such rules under the California Constitution. 

“Emergency Rule 1 forces landlords to turn away conscientious individuals seeking housing, in order to continue to house tenants who harass neighbors, conduct crimes on the premises, damage the property, and refuse to pay rent,” said Michael Poon, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “This is not only grotesque policy, it is unconstitutional. Under the American system of separation of powers, the judiciary may not ignore the law or make it. This rule does both.” 

Pacific Legal Foundation represents two retirees who lease their properties at modest rates. Like millions of Americans, individual landlords have been thrown into financial turmoil by the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Many operated on thin margins even before the pandemic, with mortgages, maintenance, and other expenses to pay. For landlords to recover and continue to provide housing, they must be allowed to make profitable use of their property. 

Filed in Kern County Superior Court, Christensen v. California Judicial Council asks that the ban on eviction proceedings be struck down. 


Christensen v. California Judicial Council - Petition for Peremptory Writ of Mandate
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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 18 wins of 20 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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