The Judicial Council of California voted 19-1 on Thursday to lift its moratorium on most evictions and foreclosures.
"The judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches on a long-term basis to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic," Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement.
Earlier, state lawmakers had pleaded with the council for more time to come up with a solution of their own, warning of "chaos" should evictions resume.
California's top justices voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to lift emergency rules meant to halt most evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying any extension of those moratoriums must be passed by the state's lawmakers.
"The judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches on a long-term basis to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic," Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement. "The duty of the judicial branch is to resolve disputes under the law and not to legislate."
In the absence of a new law, most evictions and foreclosures could resume as soon as Sept. 2.
California lawmakers have thus far been unable to reach a deal on a legislative moratorium. Earlier in August, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon pleaded with the Judicial Council for more time, warning of "chaos" should evictions resume, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"Speeding up the legislative process is nearly impossible," the lawmakers wrote, "given the current precautions needed to reduce the risk of viral transmission during legislative business."
California's Assembly and Senate have both taken up legislation for a state-wide eviction moratorium but, as the Associated Press noted, the bills clash on how to compensate landlords.
Some California renters are protected by a hodgepodge of local eviction protections, but those are set to expire too. In Los Angeles, for example, a county-wide moratorium is set to be lifted on Sept. 30.
Should that happen, as many as 365,000 households could be at risk of eviction, LAist reported, citing research by UCLA's Luskin Institute.
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