Amended in Assembly April 18, 2016

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 2819


Introduced by Assembly Member Chiu

February 19, 2016


An act to amend Section 1161.2begin delete of, and to add Section 1167.1 to,end deletebegin insert ofend insert the Code of Civil Procedure, relating to unlawful detainer proceedings.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 2819, as amended, Chiu. Unlawful detainer proceedings.

Under existing law, a tenant of real property, for a term less than life, or the executor or administrator or his or her estate, is guilty of unlawful detainer when he or she continues in possession, in person or by subtenant, of the property or any part of the property, after the expiration of the term for which it is let to him or her, except as specified. Under existing law access to limited civil case records filed in an unlawful detainer action is restricted to (1) parties to the action, (2) certain people who provide the court clerk with specified information about the parties to the action, (3) any person by order of the court on a showing of good cause, and (4) any other person 60 days after the complaint has been filed, unless the defendant prevails in the action within 60 days after the filing of the complaint, in which case access is limited to the other parties allowed access, as described above.

This bill would instead provide that access to limited civil case records filed in an unlawful detainer action is restricted, for purposes of (4), as described above, to any other personbegin delete if 60 days have elapsed since the complaint was filed and judgment against all defendants has been entered for the plaintiff based on certain occurrences, as specified.end deletebegin insert 60 days after the complaint has been filed if the plaintiff prevails in the action within 60 days of the filing of the complaint.end insert The bill would provide that if a default or default judgment is set aside more than 60 days after the complaint was filed, the court file access restrictions, as described above, shall apply as if the complaint had been filed on the date the default or the default judgment is set aside. The bill would authorizebegin delete the parties to stipulate to, and would require the court to issue, an order prohibiting the clerk from allowing access to any court records in the action, pending a further order of the court.end deletebegin insert the court to bar access to court records in the action if the parties so stipulate.end insert

begin delete

Existing law requires a summons in a unlawful detainer proceeding to be issued, served, and returned in the same manner as a summons in a civil action except that when the defendant is served, the defendant’s response must be filed within 5 days, instead of 30 days.

end delete
begin delete

This bill would require an unlawful detainer proceeding to be dismissed without prejudice if 60 days elapse after a complaint is filed and no proof of service of the summons has been filed.

end delete

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1begin insert

begin insertSECTION 1.end insert  

end insert

begin insertThe Legislature finds and declares all of the
2following:end insert

begin insert

3
(a) It is the policy of the state to promote open access to public
4records. It is in the interest of the public to ensure, to the greatest
5extent possible, that there is open public access to court records,
6including civil case records.

end insert
begin insert

7
(b) It is the policy of the state that access to public records be
8limited or restricted only under compelling circumstances.

end insert
begin insert

9
(c) With the enactment of Chapter 1007 of the Statutes of 1991,
10the Legislature began restricting public access to civil case records
11in unlawful detainer proceedings. Under current law, with limited
12exceptions, civil case records in unlawful detainer proceedings
13are unavailable to the public for a period of 60 days after filing.
14Civil case records in unlawful detainer proceedings in which the
15defendant prevails within 60 days of filing are permanently
16unavailable to the public.

end insert
begin insert

17
(d) The state has a housing crisis that requires revising the
18current restrictions on public access to civil case records in
19unlawful detainer proceedings. More than four decades have
P3    1passed since the California Supreme Court first observed, in Green
2v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616, 625, “a scarcity of
3adequate low cost housing in virtually every urban setting [in
4California].” Yet the shortage of affordable housing for
5low-income tenants has only grown. Median monthly rents in the
6state are now approximately 50 percent higher than the national
7average, but high prices have failed to spur sufficient housing
8construction to meet demand. As a result, households in the state
9in the bottom quarter of the income distribution spend an average
10of 67 percent of their income on housing. The recent economic
11and foreclosure crises have only exacerbated the challenges that
12low-income households face in securing affordable housing.

end insert
begin insert

13
(e) The difficulty of securing affordable housing in competitive
14rental markets is also worsened by the existing law governing
15access to civil case records in unlawful detainer proceedings.
16Specifically, once unlawful detainer civil case records become
17public, tenant screening companies and credit reporting agencies
18capture and publish personal identifying information regarding
19tenants named as defendants in those records. This information
20appears in published lists, known as unlawful detainer registries,
21and on tenants’ credit reports. So long as it is accurate, the fact
22that a tenant was once sued for unlawful detainer is publicly
23available for up to seven years and cannot be challenged under
24federal or state laws governing consumer credit reporting.

end insert
begin insert

25
(f) The names of thousands of innocent tenants whose cases are
26resolved only after the 60-day deadline appear on unlawful
27detainer registries. Many of these tenants successfully settle, secure
28a dismissal, or win at trial, and would have escaped negative credit
29reporting if only they had prevailed before the deadline. In other
30instances, unlawful detainer complaints are filed against tenants
31but never served. Because these complaints are never dismissed,
32the tenant’s name is publicly released after 60 days and negative
33credit reporting ensues. Because landlords, who are attempting
34to decide between numerous applicants for scarce rental housing,
35rely on unlawful detainer registries and on credit reports, landlords
36often choose not to rent to tenants who appear on these registries,
37even if the tenants were eventually found innocent of unlawful
38detainer. As a result, given the statewide housing shortage, these
39tenants may be shut out of rental markets for up to seven years
40through no fault of their own.

end insert
begin insert

P4    1
(g) This act strikes a just balance between ensuring open access
2to public records and protecting the credit and reputation of
3innocent tenants. This act also ensures that landlords will have
4access to timely and more accurate information regarding
5prospective tenants. This act is a response to the state’s ongoing
6affordable housing crisis and is necessary to prevent tenants from
7being inadvertently denied an opportunity to secure housing simply
8as a result of being named in an unlawful detainer lawsuit.

end insert
9begin insert

begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

end insert

begin insertIt is the intent of the Legislature to amend existing
10statutes regarding open access to public records by making
11permanently unavailable to the public civil case records in
12unlawful detainer proceedings in which the plaintiff does not
13prevail within 60 days of filing instead of unlawful detainer
14proceedings in which the defendant prevails within 60 days of
15filing.end insert

16

begin deleteSECTION 1.end delete
17
begin insertSEC. 3.end insert  

Section 1161.2 of the Code of Civil Procedure is
18amended to read:

19

1161.2.  

(a) (1) The clerk shall allow access to limited civil
20case records filed under this chapter, including the court file, index,
21and register of actions, only as follows:

22(A) To a party to the action, including a party’s attorney.

23(B) To a person who provides the clerk with the names of at
24least one plaintiff and one defendant and the address of the
25premises, including the apartment or unit number, if any.

26(C) To a resident of the premises who provides the clerk with
27the name of one of the parties or the case number and shows proof
28of residency.

29(D) To a person by order of the court, which may be granted ex
30parte, on a showing of good cause.

begin delete

31(E) To any other person if 60 days have elapsed since the
32complaint has been filed and, as of the 60th day, judgment against
33all defendants has been entered for the plaintiff based on any of
34the following:

end delete
begin delete

35(i) Default, upon written application of the plaintiff and proof
36of service of the summons, unless the default or default judgment
37has been set aside. If the default or default judgment is set aside
38more than 60 days after the complaint has been filed, this section
39shall apply as if the complaint has been filed on the date the default
40or default judgment is set aside.

end delete
begin delete

P5    1(ii) Summary judgment.

end delete
begin delete

2(iii) Trial.

end delete
begin delete

3(iv) Stipulation by all the parties.

end delete
begin insert

4
(E) Except as provided in subparagraph (F), to any other person
560 days after the complaint has been filed if the plaintiff prevails
6in the action within 60 days of the filing of the complaint, in which
7case the clerk shall allow access to any court records in the action.
8If a default or default judgment is set aside more than 60 days
9after the complaint has been filed, this section shall apply as if the
10complaint has been filed on the date the default or default judgment
11is set aside.

end insert

12(F) In the case of a complaint involving residential property
13based on Section 1161a as indicated in the caption of the complaint,
14as required in subdivision (c) of Section 1166, to any other person,
15if 60 days have elapsed since the complaint was filed with the
16court, and, as of that date, judgment against all defendants has
17been entered for the plaintiff, after a trial.

begin delete

18(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, if the
19parties stipulate, the court shall issue an order prohibiting the clerk
20from allowing access to any court records in an action filed under
21this chapter, pending further order of the court.

end delete
begin insert

22
(2) This section shall not be construed to prohibit the court from
23issuing an order that bars access to the court record in an action
24filed under this chapter if the parties to the action so stipulate.

end insert

25(b) begin insert(1)end insertbegin insertend insert For purposes of this section, “good cause” includes,
26but is not limitedbegin delete to, theend deletebegin insert to, both of the following:end insert

27begin insert(A)end insertbegin insertend insertbegin insertTheend insert gathering of newsworthy facts by a person described
28in Section 1070 of the Evidence Code.begin delete Itend delete

begin insert

29
(B) The gathering of evidence by a party to an unlawful detainer
30action solely for the purpose of making a request for judicial notice
31pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 452 of the Evidence Code.

end insert

32begin insert(2)end insertbegin insertend insertbegin insertItend insert is the intent of the Legislature that a simple procedure be
33established to request the ex parte order described in subparagraph
34(D) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a).

35(c) Upon the filing of a case so restricted, the court clerk shall
36mail notice to each defendant named in the action. The notice shall
37be mailed to the address provided in the complaint. The notice
38shall contain a statement that an unlawful detainer complaint
39(eviction action) has been filed naming that party as a defendant,
40and that access to the court file will be delayed for 60 days except
P6    1to a party, an attorney for one of the parties, or any other person
2who (1) provides to the clerk the names of at least one plaintiff
3and one defendant in the action and provides to the clerk the
4address, including any applicable apartment, unit, or space number,
5of the subject premises, or (2) provides to the clerk the name of
6one of the parties in the action or the case number and can establish
7through proper identification that he or she lives at the subject
8premises. The notice shall also contain a statement that access to
9the court index, register of actions, or other records is not permitted
10until 60 days after the complaint is filed, except pursuant to an
11order upon a showing of good cause for access. The notice shall
12contain on its face the following information:

13(1) The name and telephone number of the county bar
14association.

15(2) The name and telephone number of any entity that requests
16inclusion on the notice and demonstrates to the satisfaction of the
17court that it has been certified by the State Bar of California as a
18lawyer referral service and maintains a panel of attorneys qualified
19in the practice of landlord-tenant law pursuant to the minimum
20standards for a lawyer referral service established by the State Bar
21of California and Section 6155 of the Business and Professions
22Code.

23(3) The following statement:


25“The State Bar of California certifies lawyer referral services in
26California and publishes a list of certified lawyer referral services
27organized by county. To locate a lawyer referral service in your
28county, go to the State Bar’s Internet Web site at
29www.calbar.ca.gov or call 1-866-442-2529.”


31(4) The name and telephone number of an office or offices
32funded by the federal Legal Services Corporation or qualified legal
33services projects that receive funds distributed pursuant to Section
346216 of the Business and Professions Code that provide legal
35services to low-income persons in the county in which the action
36is filed. The notice shall state that thesebegin insert telephoneend insert numbers may
37be called for legal advice regarding the case. The notice shall be
38issued between 24 and 48 hours of the filing of the complaint,
39excluding weekends and holidays. One copy of the notice shall be
40addressed to “all occupants” and mailed separately to the subject
P7    1premises. The notice shall not constitute service of the summons
2and complaint.

3(d) Notwithstanding any other law, the court shall charge an
4additional fee of fifteen dollars ($15) for filing a first appearance
5by the plaintiff. This fee shall be added to the uniform filing fee
6for actions filed under this chapter.

7(e) This section does not apply to a case that seeks to terminate
8a mobilehome park tenancy if the statement of the character of the
9proceeding in the caption of the complaint clearly indicates that
10the complaint seeks termination of a mobilehome park tenancy.

begin insert

11
(f) This section does not alter any provision of the Evidence
12Code.

end insert
begin delete13

SEC. 2.  

Section 1167.1 is added to the Code of Civil Procedure,
14to read:

15

1167.1.  

If 60 days elapse after the complaint is filed and no
16proof of service of the summons has been filed, the action shall
17be dismissed without prejudice.

end delete


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