Evictions to resume in Orange County for pre-COVID cases – Daily News

on May28
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A grimmer side to the reopening of the local economy is about to return for some struggling tenants who got a reprieve during the coronavirus shutdown.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday, May 27, it plans to resume processing eviction orders next week that were handed down before the shutdown but halted to protect renters from becoming homeless during a health crisis.

Deputies in the department’s Civil Division started contacting tenants with frozen eviction orders Tuesday to see if they moved out voluntarily or are still in homes they were ordered to vacate, the statement said. Evictions will start next week.

Orange County is the first Southern California jurisdiction to resume evictions.

At least 1,433 move-out judgments have been on hold in the counties of Los Angeles (996), Orange (180) and San Bernardino (257) in the 10 weeks since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order took effect, officials told the Southern California News Group.

A sheriff’s spokesman in Riverside County couldn’t say how many cases were in the pipeline when its shutdown began at the end of March.

Local landlord groups say they have heard some grumblings among their members about these cases, saying they created economic hardship for property owners stuck with non-paying tenants.

“I have a handful of horror stories about frozen evictions,” said Victor Cao, spokesman for the California Apartment Association’s Orange County chapter.

“It is important for business-as-usual to resume for us all, and that includes property owners,” added Nicholas Dunlap, a past president of the Apartment Association of Orange County. “There are cases where either through extreme conduct or non-payment, there are no other options (but eviction). We need to be able to run and operate our businesses in accordance with the law, and that’s all that we are asking for.”

But one tenants’ rights advocate cried foul.

“This crisis is far from being over. The State of Emergency has not been lifted,” said Elena Popp, executive director of the Eviction Defense Network in Los Angeles. “It is thoughtless and irresponsible to throw families out on the street during this health crisis.”

These pre-COVID cases are not subject to local and state eviction moratoriums, which went into effect in March and April to protect tenants unable to pay their rent either because they or a family member caught the virus or because they were out of work due to the pandemic.

Newsom ordered an eviction moratorium March 19 lasting through May 31. On April 6, the Judicial Council that oversees California courts issued an emergency freeze on processing new evictions until three months after the state of emergency ends — or through August at least.

Deputies are working with community organizations to keep residents without a place to go from becoming homeless, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun.

“This is something we did prior to COVID-19 and will continue,” she said.

Officials with the Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino County sheriffs departments said their eviction bureaus don’t plan to resume processing these older cases until sometime after their local courts reopen. The Los Angeles County Superior Court, for example, is scheduled to resume hearing cases on June 22.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department processed 4,951 court-ordered evictions last year and 1,015 cases from Jan. 1 through mid-March this year, the sheriff’s statement said.

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