Starting in September 2019, tenants facing evictions will be afforded more time to answer eviction proceedings under a new bill recently signed into law. AB 2343 will give tenants three “court days” to fork over overdue rent or comply with other terms of the lease, and a full five court days to respond to an unlawful detainer lawsuit. The law amends Sections 1161 and 1167 of the California Code of Civil Procedure.
Under the current law surrounding unlawful detainer actions:
- A tenant has three calendar days following receipt of the landlord’s notice to cure a lease violation (e.g. pay rent or any other breach of lease) or vacate the leased premises.
- A tenant has five calendar days following service of summons to respond to an eviction lawsuit (i.e., an unlawful detainer action) filed by the landlord.
The newly minted law extends a tenant’s 3-day and 5-day response periods in an unlawful detainer action to exclude Saturdays, Sundays, and judicially observed holidays.
As one of the most prolific authors of tenant rights bills, it’s with little surprise that Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco was the chief architect of this measure.
“Legal aid attorneys across 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.”
Renter rights advocacy group Tenants Together claim that there are a staggering amount of default judgments entered against tenants when they fail to respond within five calendar days to their eviction lawsuit or have not filled out the forms properly and that AB 2343 will restore fairness to the process.
Although landlords will have to wait longer under the new law, it is not eternity. The original proposal was to allow tenants 10 days to pay back rent and have 14 days to respond to an unlawful detainer action, so it’s not as bad as it could have been.
Make no mistake, political rhetoric often sides squarely on the side of tenants, and this law is just one win in the column of an energized tenant rights movement that must be met with equally aggressive representation from landlord attorneys who have been advocating for owner rights for over 23 years.