Amended in Assembly May 2, 2016

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 1161.2 ofbegin insert, and to add Section 1167.1 to,end insert the Code of Civil Procedure, relating to unlawful detainer proceedings.


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 existingbegin delete lawend deletebegin insert law,end insert 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 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. 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 authorize the court to bar access to court records in the action if the parties so stipulate.

begin insert

Existing law requires a complaint filed in an unlawful detainer proceeding to include certain information and requires a defendant to answer the complaint, as specified, within 5 days of being served with a summons and the complaint, unless the court orders otherwise for good cause shown. Existing law also requires proof of service of a summons to be filed in a civil action, including in an unlawful detainer proceeding.

end insert
begin insert

This bill would permit a court to dismiss an unlawful detainer proceeding without prejudice if proof of service of the summons has not been filed within 60 days of the complaint’s filing.

end insert

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

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

P2    1


The Legislature finds and declares all of the

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.

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

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 are
13unavailable to the public for a period of 60 days after filing. Civil
14case records in unlawful detainer proceedings in which the
15defendant prevails within 60 days of filing are permanently
16unavailable to the public.

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

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.

25(f) The names of thousands of innocent tenants whose cases are
26resolved only after the 60-day deadline appear on unlawful detainer
27registries. Many of these tenants successfully settle, secure a
28dismissal, 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 to
34decide 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.

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.


SEC. 2.  

It 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 unlawful
12detainer proceedings in which the plaintiff does not prevail within
1360 days of filing instead of unlawful detainer proceedings in which
14the defendant prevails within 60 days of filing.


SEC. 3.  

Section 1161.2 of the Code of Civil Procedure is
16amended to read:



(a) (1) The clerk shall allow access to limited civil
18case records filed under this chapter, including the court file, index,
19and register of actions, only as follows:

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

21(B) To a person who provides the clerk with the names of at
22least one plaintiff and one defendant and the address of the
23premises, including the apartment or unit number, if any.

24(C) To a resident of the premises who provides the clerk with
25the name of one of the parties or the case number and shows proof
26of residency.

27(D) To a person by order of the court, which may be granted ex
28parte, on a showing of good cause.

29(E) Except as provided in subparagraph (F), to any other person
3060 days after the complaint has been filed if the plaintiff prevails
31in the action within 60 days of the filing of the complaint, in which
32case the clerk shall allow access to any court records in the action.
33If a default or default judgment is set aside more than 60 days after
34the complaint has been filed, this section shall apply as if the
35complaintbegin delete hasend deletebegin insert hadend insert been filed on the date the default or default
36judgment is set aside.

37(F) In the case of a complaint involving residential property
38based on Section 1161a as indicated in the caption of the complaint,
39as required in subdivision (c) of Section 1166, to any other person,
40if 60 days have elapsed since the complaint was filed with the
P5    1court, and, as of that date, judgment against all defendants has
2been entered for the plaintiff, after a trial.

3(2) This section shall not be construed to prohibit the court from
4issuing an order that bars access to the court record in an action
5filed under this chapter if the parties to the action so stipulate.

6(b) (1) For purposes of this section, “good cause” includes, but
7is not limited to, both of the following:

8(A) The gathering of newsworthy facts by a person described
9in Section 1070 of the Evidence Code.

10(B) The gathering of evidence by a party to an unlawful detainer
11action solely for the purpose of making a request for judicial notice
12pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 452 of the Evidence Code.

13(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that a simple procedure be
14established to request the ex parte order described in subparagraph
15(D) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a).

16(c) Upon the filing of a case so restricted, the court clerk shall
17mail notice to each defendant named in the action. The notice shall
18be mailed to the address provided in the complaint. The notice
19shall contain a statement that an unlawful detainer complaint
20(eviction action) has been filed naming that party as a defendant,
21and that access to the court file will be delayed for 60 days except
22to a party, an attorney for one of the parties, or any other person
23who (1) provides to the clerk the names of at least one plaintiff
24and one defendant in the action and provides to the clerk the
25address, including any applicable apartment, unit, or space number,
26of the subject premises, or (2) provides to the clerk the name of
27one of the parties in the action or the case number and can establish
28through proper identification that he or she lives at the subject
29premises. The notice shall also contain a statement that access to
30the court index, register of actions, or other records is not permitted
31until 60 days after the complaint is filed, except pursuant to an
32order upon a showing of good cause for access. The notice shall
33contain on its face the following information:

34(1) The name and telephone number of the county bar

36(2) The name and telephone number of any entity that requests
37inclusion on the notice and demonstrates to the satisfaction of the
38court that it has been certified by the State Bar of California as a
39lawyer referral service and maintains a panel of attorneys qualified
40in the practice of landlord-tenant law pursuant to the minimum
P6    1standards for a lawyer referral service established by the State Bar
2of California and Section 6155 of the Business and Professions

4(3) The following statement:

6“The State Bar of California certifies lawyer referral services in
7California and publishes a list of certified lawyer referral services
8organized by county. To locate a lawyer referral service in your
9county, go to the State Bar’s Internet Web site at or call 1-866-442-2529.”

12(4) The name and telephone number of an office or offices
13funded by the federal Legal Services Corporation or qualified legal
14services projects that receive funds distributed pursuant to Section
156216 of the Business and Professions Code that provide legal
16services to low-income persons in the county in which the action
17is filed. The notice shall state that these telephone numbers may
18be called for legal advice regarding the case. The notice shall be
19issued between 24 and 48 hours of the filing of the complaint,
20excluding weekends and holidays. One copy of the notice shall be
21addressed to “all occupants” and mailed separately to the subject
22premises. The notice shall not constitute service of the summons
23and complaint.

24(d) Notwithstanding any other law, the court shall charge an
25additional fee of fifteen dollars ($15) for filing a first appearance
26by the plaintiff. This fee shall be added to the uniform filing fee
27for actions filed under this chapter.

28(e) This section does not apply to a case that seeks to terminate
29a mobilehome park tenancy if the statement of the character of the
30proceeding in the caption of the complaint clearly indicates that
31the complaint seeks termination of a mobilehome park tenancy.

32(f) This section does not alter any provision of the Evidence

34begin insert

begin insertSEC. 4.end insert  

end insert

begin insertSection 1167.1 is added to the end insertbegin insertCode of Civil Procedureend insertbegin insert,
35to read:end insert

begin insert

begin insert1167.1.end insert  

If proof of service of the summons has not been filed
37within 60 days of the complaint’s filing, the court may dismiss the
38action without prejudice.

end insert