An eviction crisis is coming, housing lawyers warn

Nearly six months into a pandemic that’s upended American society, a San Diego property owner cut a deal with a tenant: Take $10,000 and get out.

A 60-day eviction notice expired while the courts were closed, and the city’s new emergency restrictions gave the tenant significant leverage: His landlord couldn’t secure a court summons until Sept. 30 at the earliest, and in the meantime, the renter wasn’t legally required to pay him anything. The landlord’s lawyer, Rachael Callahan, told him the keys-for-cash deal was his best immediate option if he wanted to regain access to his property in a timely manner.

“The conversation I literally have 20 times a day is, I say: ‘This is where we are.’ The client says, ‘That’s unbelievable,’ and I agree with them,” says Callahan, who’s based in San Diego. “From our standpoint, not being able to help our clients is one of the most frustrating things we can face because we’re attorneys, and that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

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