SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — With millions of Californians out of work, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order last week banning evictions for the next 60 days. But CBS13 has learned the order only protects people who do not pay their rent.
An elderly couple reached out to CBS13 looking for answers after they got a 60-day eviction notice on their door. The governor’s order doesn’t protect them.
“That [order] doesn’t cover us because we paid our rent, and we continue to pay our rent,” Richard said.
Richard and his wife are in their mid 80’s, and they’ve been self-quarantining for weeks. But now they fear they’re being forced to put their health at risk because of an eviction notice that says they must be out before the end of May.
“We have to get our grandkids and whoever else to pack, we have to arrange for movers, we have to find a place,” he adds, pointing out all of those things might expose them to the virus.
That’s exactly the type of thing the governor’s order is intended to prevent, but it only applies to people who can’t pay their rent. It does not protect folks like Richard and his wife from eviction. Their lease is up and their landlord says he wants to move in. Public records list more than 20 other properties under the landlord’s name.
While State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) commends Newsom for his handling of the pandemic, he has been critical of the eviction moratorium.
“This is an issue that potentially affects millions of Californians,” Weiner said.
Weiner noted that the governor’s order only prevents “enforcement” of evictions, not the eviction orders themselves.
“The governor’s order allows for an eviction on paper right now,” Weiner said.
He also points out that the protections only apply to those who “can’t” pay rent and it only protects them until the end of May.
So for people like Richard, who can afford to keep paying rent, the 60-day clock for him to move out is already ticking down.
“Let’s have the 60 days start when the emergency ends,” Weiner said.
On the bright side, the City Attorney for Lincoln, where Richard lives, notes that the courts and local law enforcement have been ordered not to act on eviction orders for 60 days. And even after, she says there will likely be a backlog.
“Actually getting an order where a sheriff can show up at your door and forcibly remove you is a long time away,” Lincoln City Attorney Kristine Mollenkopf said.
But for Richard, it’s about more than law enforcement, it’s a matter of principle.
“I don’t like to have an eviction on my record,” Richard said.
The governor’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment or clarification, but both the Lincoln City Attorney and Senator Wiener believe that he will ultimately update the order to also protect people who are being evicted for other reasons.
In the meantime, the city of Lincoln has offered to intervene in Richard’s case. They hope to help Richard and his landlord come to a compromise.