With More Renters At Risk, California Is Urging Law Enforcement To Help Prevent Illegal Evictions
California Attorney General Rob Bonta is urging law enforcement agencies across the state to help protect tenants against so-called "self-help" evictions.
These can include a landlord:
- Changing locks without a court order
- Shutting off water
- Removing a tenant's personal items
In a bulletin posted Wednesday to all sheriffs and police chiefs in the state, Bonta noted all of that is illegal. The Tenant Protection Act restricts landlords from evicting many tenants without just cause.
As the cost of living continues to rise, many tenants are struggling to pay rent. That's left close to 1.5 million renters at risk of eviction, Bonta said.
He said while renter protections may frustrate landlords who have tenants who aren't paying rent, property owners are responsible for going through the court process to get them out.
Since March, local landlord groups have argued that the protections need to end. They say that as pandemic-era restrictions eased — businesses have reopened, unemployment rates dropped and vaccines are widely available — added protections for renters are no longer necessary.
Regardless of any additional buffers created to help renters weather the pandemic, Bonta said the fundamental process for evictions in California remain the same. He said "the law is clear on the process."
"The only lawful way to evict a tenant is to go to court and have the court order the sheriff or the marshal to carry out the eviction," he said.
He urged renters to report any violations to the state Justice Department's Housing Strike Force.
In Los Angeles County, low-income tenants who could not pay rent due to COVID-19 regained protection from evictions on July 1 after a state law temporarily revoked the county's protections.
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