By Miri Valenzuela
BERKELEY–What it means and where to seek help if you are served.
Since the expiration of the Berkeley eviction moratorium in August 31, 2023 (https://rentboard.berkeleyca.gov/elected-rent-board/news/berkeleys-eviction-moratorium-expired-august-31-2023) the city has seen a gradual increase in eviction filings. According to the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, over 200 eviction notices were filed in the last two months (https://rentboard.berkeleyca.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Public%20Eviction%20Notice%20Data%2011-3-23.pdf). Despite the city effort to provide resources to its citizens, many know little about the eviction process and where to ask for help. To answer some of these questions, we reached the Housing Counseling line at (510) 981-7368 (RENT).
THE EVICTION PROCESS:
The process begins with the issue of an Eviction Notice to the tenant, where the landlord requests past due rent payments. These notices come in three types:
- Three-day notice to perform or quit: This is the most common notice, allowing the tenant to fix the issue (often nonpayment of rent) within three days to avoid further legal action.
- Thirty-day notice of termination for other good causes: This can be used under certain circumstances and typically requires a 30-day notice, but if the tenancy has lasted more than a year, a 60-day notice is needed.
- 120-day notice for eviction under the Ellis Act: This longer notice is required for specific types of eviction.
Unless the tenant complies with the terms of the Eviction Notice, the property owner will continue to file a complaint with the court, starting a legal proceeding. The tenant will then be served in person or by mail with a copy of the Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer which will give the tenant a period of 5 working days to file a Written Response with the court to contest the summons. If they fail to respond within this time, the landlord can seek a “default judgment” to have the tenant removed from the unit.
If the tenant provides Written Response to the Court, the case will end up going to a Trial where the case will be heard by a judge or a jury. If the Landlord wins the case, they will be granted possession of the property, and the tenant may be required to pay any outstanding rent. If the tenant doesn’t vacate voluntarily, the landlord can request a writ of possession, allowing the sheriff to evict the tenant. The sheriff gives the tenant a notice to leave within five days, and if the tenant doesn’t comply, the sheriff can physically remove them from the property, and they can’t return. However, if Tenant wins, they will be allowed to stay in the rental unit.
WHERE TO ASK FOR HELP:
The moratorium and rental assistance programs have played a crucial role in protecting tenants from eviction and displacement.
To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, Berkeley City Council allocated over $5 million for its housing retention program, which provided rental assistance to renters and landlords. The Eviction Defense Center (EDC) is responsible for distributing these funds, and about $350,000 is still available in Berkeley. However, as EDC Executive Director Anne Omura shared in a previous interview, these funds are depleting rapidly.
The city of Berkeley Rent Board Housing Counselors can provide information about rights and responsibilities for both tenant and landlords, but they cannot offer legal advice regarding eviction cases.
If you have any questions you can reach a housing counselor at (510) 981-7368 (RENT) or you can schedule an appointment (including virtual appointments) with a housing counselor, or email a counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Housing counselors are available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
All email and voicemail messages should include:
- Your name
- Your property address
- A brief description of your issue
- If you’ve received a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit or other eviction notice (we will prioritize your call).