New Legislation that Affects Landlords
By Noni Richen, SPOSFI Board Member

AB 1953 (Ammiano): Tenant Notice
AB 1953 expands on the existing requirement that, after an ownership or managerial change of a rental property, the tenant must be given formal notice of the change and provided with the name, phone number, and address of the new owner or manager. Ammiano’s bill adds the onerous provision that a tenant may not be evicted for non-payment of rent if the non-payment occurred during any period of non-compliance with the notice requirement by the new owner. While the tenant is not relieved of any liability for payment of the accrued rent, the question is: how would the owner ever collect the amount due?

SB 1229 (Pavley): Declawing/Devocaling Pets
SB 1229 prohibits a landlord who allows a tenant to have an animal on the premises from advertising or establishing rental policies in a manner that requires a tenant or a potential tenant with an animal to have that animal declawed or devocalized as a condition of occupancy.

The bill would authorize specified law enforcement prosecutorial entities to seek declaratory or injunctive relief for a violation of these prohibitions. The bill would impose a civil penalty, not to exceed $1,000, for each violation of these provisions, to be paid to the law enforcement prosecutorial entity that brings the action.

SB 1055 ensures that tenants may still pay their rent and other obligations to the owner by personal check or money order.

SB 1055 (Lieu): Two Methods of Paying Rent
In 2011, a 300-unit apartment complex in Torrance instructed its tenants that future rent payments could be made only by on-line (electronic) means. Some tenants were unable or unwilling to change from paper checks or money orders, and challenged the mandate, ultimately resulting in this legislation. SB 1055 ensures that tenants may still pay their rent and other obligations to the owner by personal check or money order. It also allows that, upon move-out, the final accounting of the rental, including security deposit and supporting documents, may be sent by email. Any funds due after the accounting may also be sent by a paperless method.

AB 1925 (Ma): Temporary Move-Out Payments
Recently signed into law, this important legislation limits the amount an owner must pay to a tenant household for a temporary move-out of 20 days or less to $275 per day, plus actual moving costs. The owner may also offer the tenant comparable temporary housing plus moving costs. Passage of AB 1925 was the result of much work by San Francisco Apartment Association, and we congratulate and thank them for their efforts.

In 2006, S.F. voters passed Prop. H, a measure that superseded state law that required a $1,000 payment to a tenant household displaced by a “no-fault” eviction, even if the displacement was temporary in order to complete necessary repairs to the premises. Prop. H mandated a $4,500 per person (not household) payment plus $3,000 for each minor or senior, up to a maximum of $13,500. The fallout from Prop. H was predictable: repairs were postponed, tenant households suddenly expanded when they sensed a future disruption, and new restrictions on condo conversions affected by “no fault” evictions were enacted. It also led to the practice of paying tenants huge move-out settlements ($30,000 or more) to vacate the premises without the stigma of a perfectly legal action by an owner. AB 1925 mitigates the expenses when the move is temporary. However, the heinous charges remain for other such evictions.

There’s a bit of irony in this history. In 2006, SPOSFI and, more specifically, Board Member David Fix, challenged Prop. H with much heart and our limited resources.
Other property owner advocacy groups pretty much accepted its passage as inevitable, and offered little more than a pat on the back to us for our efforts to fight Prop. H. Close to the election, SFAA did contribute $5,000. In the end, the final vote was much closer than anyone anticipated (53% to 47% in favor), causing one SFAA board member to express to David regret that SFAA had not been more supportive of our efforts.

Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News. For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at www.smallprop.org or call (415) 647-2419.

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