Sacramento’s Assault on California Landlord Rights
Despite the stunning defeat of Proposition 10 in the 2018 election by a sixty four percent majority, over a dozen bills are now before the California Legislature targeting the rental housing industry that represents a major assault on landlord rights.
Proposition 10 was soundly rejected by voters that would have repealed the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act which limited rent control being applied by local ordinances. If this had passed, it would have opened the floodgates on rent control statewide.
However, despite voter rejection in the last election California politicians in Sacramento continue to push for more legislation that would expand rent control like AB 1482 which is a statewide prohibition on rent increases. State-mandated caps on annual rent increases would be tied to the consumer price index (CPI), a common measure of inflation, plus 5 percent. With the current CPI at 2.5 percent this would make maximum rent increases capped at 7.5 percent
Assembly Bill 36 is also being considered by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee which allows local governments to enact rent control on buildings that are more than 10 years old including condominiums and single-family homes.
These two Bills represent major attempts to establish statewide rent controls despite the voters having rejected that only a few months before. “Rent control is not the solution as it keeps housing units off the market, discourages new housing, and hinders the preservation and enhancement of aging housing units,” said California Rental Housing Association President Sid Lakireddy.
CalRHA released a statement in response to these initiatives arguing that rent control in general is not effective.
“Rent control policies have not worked to create more affordable and accessible housing,” the statement reads, or “supports smart and effective policies that will actually make a difference by rapidly increasing our affordable housing supply.”
The Assembly Judiciary Committee is considering AB 1481 and AB 1697 which requires landlords to have “Just cause” to “show a specific and valid reason” for evicting tenants such as failure to pay rent, a substantial breach of the lease, or use of the property for illegal activity like selling drugs.
The problem with the “Just cause” approach on a practical basis for the landlord is that it often requires testimony from other tenants to prove, who can understandably be reluctant to come forward and identify themselves in an eviction lawsuit.
“These are the witnesses that are the good tenants on the property,” Ninder Grewal, policy and compliance counsel for California Apartments Association recently told the hearing. “Good tenants are afraid and do not want to get involved in lawsuits.”
Under existing California State Law, landlords can terminate a tenancy with a 30- or 60-day notice without listing a cause and involving others in the legal process who don’t want to be involved and just live in peace.
AB 1110 extends the amount of time required to give notice of a rent increase to three to four months, from the current one to two months depending upon how long a tenant has been a resident. This is a further erosion of a landlord’s rights to get rid of bad tenants in a timely basis.
AB 1188 gives tenants the right to house a tenant’s family member “at risk of homelessness” in their apartment for up to 12 months without negative consequences from the property owner – regardless of the terms set forth in the previously signed rental or lease agreement that specified the names and number of allowed tenants.
How can anyone control costs if the government says more tenants can be allowed on the property than what was originally agreed to in writing by the landlord because they are “potentially homeless”, were not screened for credit or criminal history – based upon that person’s need rather than what the property owner agreed to?
Shouldn’t a landlord have the right to exclude people from the property they never chose to be there in the first place?
Senate Bill 529 would allow tenant associations to withhold rent payments over “Grievances” with the rental property owner. This Bill also requires landlords to allow tenant associations to distribute literature and organize meetings on the property the property owner may not attend unless formally invited.
Why should it be the property owner’s responsibility to help their tenants organize a rent strike?
Other bills before the California State Legislature includes AB 53 which would make it a crime for a landlord to ask if a prospective tenant has a criminal record. Why is the criminal being protected but not the honest landlord? This is standing fairness and justice on its head!
These bills all represent an assault on California Landlord rights that represents a dramatic intrusion by government into the rental housing industry in ways that simply defy common sense!
While California voters in the last election soundly rejected statewide rent control, Sacramento politicians are ignoring and trying to circumvent the will of the people promoting rent control and other assaults on landlord rights that are not the solution to California’s housing crisis. These assaults on California landlord rights clearly make problems – not solve problems!
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Filed under: Landlord Legal Issues