SAN DIEGO — A sign posted outside the front door of the Vantaggio Suites apartment complex reads this: "Attention Tenants, being seen inside the property without wearing a face mask will result in automatic eviction. There will be no more warnings."
News 8 spoke with the manager of the complex who said she has become increasingly frustrated with her tenants not wearing face masks and they’re endangering her and the staff by disregarding the mask mandate. While she is right that wearing face masks will significantly lower the risk of spreading COVID-19, is the complex legally allowed to evict a tenant for not wearing a mask?
“'Legal' is an interesting term. The answer is no," said eviction Lawyer Daniel Marshall. “If you define eviction from removal of your home, that would be no. Can they successfully file a eviction lawsuit? No. Could they post a notice on your door for eviction based upon not wearing a face mask? I think the answer is clearly no.”
Marshall said that it comes down to public and private access. For example, a convenience store can refuse you service for not wearing a mask as it’s considered a public place and falls under Governor Newsom’s mask mandate. However, an apartment complex is considered private and there are no legal mandates for residents to wear a mask inside.
“In reality, if you’ve maintained six feet, even in public places, technically you don’t have to wear a mask," said Marshall. “As long as you maintain that distance, it’s not going to be illegal.”
The manager of the apartment complex said she would take the sign down. Though there is no legal grounds to evict someone for not wearing a mask, health experts maintain that wearing a mask will significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19.