Amid proposals to encourage housing development, tenant advocates have their own bills incubating

BY DANIEL BORNSTEIN, ESQ.

California renters would gain new legal protections — and a doubled state tax credit — if lawmakers pass a package of bills. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

We’ve outlined many new laws that were passed to address California’s housing crunch, but before the ink dried, several new proposals have been floated. There’s much work to be done, for sure – 97 percent of all California cities are falling short of their housing goals, according to a report by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

With this gaping deficit, Bornstein Law has applauded the bulk of bills that get to the root of the problem and remove impediments to new housing construction, including those that offer a varying combination of carrots or sticks to accelerate development near transit.

There are two sides of the coin

While we have seen some noble ideas come forward from camps that have pushed for increased housing, tenant advocates have their own legislative ideas evolving.

At least three are on our radar that are detrimental to property owners and would only aggravate the housing shortage. Among the proposals is a bill that would bar landlords from evicting all of their tenants while remaining in the rental business.

Under current laws on the books, landlords endeavoring to evict tenants under the Ellis Act must give four months’ notice, and a proposed bill would instead require a year’s notice. These type of tenant displacements are all but obsolete – contrary to what tenant advocates would lead one to believe, no-fault evictions are on a downward trend, and at any rate, highly regulated with ensconced tenant protections. 

Say what you may about the merits of a property owner's rights to exit the rental business, but the Ellis Act is not the problem and so some advocates are chasing ghosts. In this article, Daniel Bornstein breaks down the raw math of an exhaustive study by the San Francisco Rent Board that debunks the purported pervasiveness of these evictions. 

If another bill becomes law, landlords would have to wait 10 days – versus three – to commence an unlawful detainer action against tenants that have failed to pay their rent. As the cherry on top, a third bill would require landlords statewide to show “just cause” – a reasonable reason such as failure to pay rent or for violation of the lease terms – before a tenant can be transitioned out of the unit.

Spearheaded by the gang of three

As one of the most prolific authors of tenant protection legislation and the chief architect of efforts to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, it’s with little surprise that Assemblymen David Chiu is interjected in these bills. Chiu joins Rob Bonta, D-Alameda; and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica in re-writing the definition of home ownership.

We trust that our allies at the California Apartment Association and other mobilized industry partners will do its part to oppose these statewide initiatives to erode landlord rights.

Beyond the Capitol Dome, landlord rights are being put under a microscope in city halls, with Oakland the latest bastion of tenant protections. Whether effectuated by ballot initiatives, state laws, local ordinances, or judicial interpretations, you can count on Bornstein Law to keep you in the know.

Even as we attempt to keep our eye on the bigger picture, our landlord lawyers will continue our 23-year tradition of protecting the rights of property owners when questions or disputes arise.

Daniel is the founding attorney of Bornstein Law, the San Francisco Bay Area's foremost authority on managing landlord-tenant relationships, property management issues, and complex real estate litigation. Having protected the rights of property owners for over 23 years, he is also renowned for his educational workshops, his speaking engagements with numerous organizations, and as an expert witness. Contact his office today.