How Governor’s Eviction Order Fails: Critics

It’s not a moratorium, Legal Aid of Marin says

A Marin County nonprofit is the latest in a growing list of organizations and individuals to condemn an executive order Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Friday, March 27.

The order, which Newsom’s office presented as an “eviction moratorium,” falls short, critics say.

On Saturday, an Oakland-based housing attorney told KQED that Newsom’s order is “misleading” and “useless.”

Now, Legal Aid of Marin, which offers legal services to underserved individuals, is sharing similar concerns as it prepares to be inundated by a wave of eviction cases.

“Counter to public perception, this Order is NOT an eviction moratorium in that, unlike the County’s action, the Executive Order does not preclude landlords from filing eviction lawsuits. Instead, it places millions around the state at risk of eviction by default (i.e., by a clerk’s order),” a press release published Monday states.

“We are concerned that the Governor’s order will create a misperception that in Marin the problems are solved, and tenants are adequately protected. They are not,” Senior Attorney Lucie Hollingsworth said Monday. “Other California communities have given tenants six months following May 31 to catch up on rent.  It is unreasonable to expect that tenants unable to pay rent due to Covid-19 will have the thousands of dollars in back-rent available as soon as the shelter-in-place order is lifted.”

Legal Aid is also concerned that they will be inundated by requests for assistance in the coming weeks as thousands of unemployed workers begin to miss rent payments and possibly receive eviction notices.

“[Marin] County’s Resolution, and the Governor’s Order, are not self-executing,” Supervising Attorney Josh Sullivan explained.  “We are concerned that, if landlords file eviction lawsuits that are not allowed, our office may be inundated with low-income and senior tenants needing eviction defense representation to navigate the complexities.”

To that end, the nonprofit is currently looking to take on additional volunteers to help manage the workload.

More information about Marin County’s existing tenant protections is available on Legal Aid’s website. Information about Marin County’s eviction resolution is available here.

Will Carruthers
Will Carruthers is a news reporter for the Pacific Sun and North Bay Bohemian. Email tips to [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @Carruthers_W.
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