Unlawful Detainer (UD) Shielding : Landlord / Tenant

In part urgency legislation that took effect immediately on August 31, 2020.  Two laws: One extends UD Shielding for UD actions based on COVID rental debt and the other further expands UD shielding in general.

Until February 1, 2021 for any UD action based on COVID rental debt (owing from March 4, 2020 to January 31, 2021) public access generally to UD filing is foreclosed even when the plaintiff prevails in an action within 60 days of filing.

Beginning January 1, 2021, public access to UD fillings is permitted when a judgment against all defendants has been entered within 60 days.

In 2017, a law came into effect which restricted the general public access to unlawful detainer filings to the circumstance where the landlord prevailed within 60 days of filing.  The effect of shielding public access to UD filings was to impair the usefulness of credit reports in spotting a tenant with a history of being evicted through the unlawful detainer process.

This new law expands this public access limitation even further by eliminating public access even in those limited circumstances when the unlawful detainer action was filed between March 4, 2020, and January 31, 2021, and is based on the nonpayment of rent. It does, however, contain a special exception for the news media to pull unlawful detainer data for the purpose of gathering "newsworthy facts" by a reporter or other persons in the press.

Additionally, existing law allows access to case records filed in an unlawful detainer action to any person 60 days after the complaint has been filed if the plaintiff prevails in the action within 60 days of the filing of the complaint.

This new law, effective January 1, 2021, instead authorizes the county clerk to allow access to those records to any person 60 days after the complaint has been filed if judgment against all defendants has been entered for the plaintiff within 60 days of the filing of the complaint. This is a more limiting criteria than the prior law and represents an expansion of the UD shielding law.

The first law relating to COVID rental debt was part of a larger bill Assembly Bill 3088 and is codified as Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1161.2 and 1161.2.5.  Effective immediately on August 31, 2020, as urgency legislation.

The second law is part of Assembly Bill 3364 and is codified as Code of Civil Procedure Section 1161.2.  Effective January 1, 2021.

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