During 2017, there were 131 Housing Bills and Governor Brown signed a very important housing package comprised of 15 Bills. Most of these Bills deal with relaxing requirements associated with accessory dwelling units (granny flats) and promoting BONUS DENSITY HOUSING at or near rapid transit corridors.
AB 1506, which would have repealed the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Fair Housing Act, was ultimately defeated on January 11, 2018 in the Assembly Housing Committee. Perhaps a Statewide Rent Control Initiative will be on the November ballot, entitled Affordable Housing Act, sponsored by Michael Weinstein, AIDS Foundation and Eviction Attorney Elena Popp.
For 2018, the following are brief summaries of those Bills which have a direct impact on small, family owned apartment constituencies:
- Effective July 1, 2018, in historical flood zones, landlords must make a flood zone disclosure indicating that the territory may be a “special hazard area” and flood insurance should be acquired. This is mandated only where the owner has “actual knowledge” whether the property is located in a flood zone.
- In 2017, a law was passed wherein apartment owners cannot directly or indirectly threaten tenants and others about their “immigration status” in order to obtain an advantage in a Landlord/Tenant dispute. Most responsible owners never threaten the tenants and others about their racial or immigration status. However, be careful in your comments.
- Assembly Bill 196 (Muratsuchi): Mandates electric vehicle charging stations in rent controlled jurisdictions. This Bill would eliminate the exemption for owners of a dwelling subject to residential rent control ordinances. Tenants could demand that a charging station be installed; however, the cost of the station, including insurance, meters and other related expenses would be the responsibility of the tenant. If a special space is set aside as a charging station, the owner may charge an additional fee for the station. This would be deemed a separate amenity in Los Angeles, Santa Monica or West Hollywood. In time, Santa Monica would deem the charging station as an essential housing service and to that extent, this might be mandated. There are exemptions such as the charging stations must have a ratio not greater that 10% of the designated parking spaces and if parking is not provided in the lease agreement, then there is no obligation – or if there are five parking spaces or less. The charging relationship does not apply to a lease executed or renewed after January 1, 2019.
- Just Cause Eviction AB 2925 (Rob Bota – Oakland) – Currently, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica and West Hollywood have a listing of between 10 to 12 specific causes or basis under which an owner may apply to the court to arrange evictions. If this law is passed, all cities in California would require a more difficult standard for arranging to remove a tenant. Imagine a situation with nuisance tenant who is engaged in criminal enterprises and you need to solicit the cooperation of other tenants to testify in court. These tenants would be fearful of reprisals. An owner seeking to recover a unit for the failure to pay rent is a very common and simple eviction protocol. However, all of these just cause evictions generally enjoy defenses of habitability. Complicated eviction protocols often require that the attorney fees will be greater. (More expensive.)
- AB 2219 (Ting – Landlord-Tenant Third Party Payment) would prohibit a landlord or a landlord’s agent from refusing to accept the tenant’s rent from a third party if the third party does not reside on the premises. This is a back door attempt to allow the Santa Monica Rent Control authority or the Section 8 Housing authority to pay the rent of a tenant to prevent eviction for the non-payment of rent. The mere fact that the third party pays the rent does not establish the third party as a lawful occupant or tenant.
- AB 2618 (Bonta – Landlord/School/License) requires that the Department of Real Estate establishes a program that landlords must attend to obtain a certificate to manage residential real estate. This would apply to both landlords and property managers. The certificate would be valid for two years. Without the certificate, it would unlawful for YOU to rent the units. This is a terrible proposal designed to allow a few apartment associations to offer classes and make a great deal of money, and then, of course, to establish a bureaucracy to penalize or discipline landlords who make a mistake during the course of their two-year term. More bureaucracy, higher fees and those fees and classes cannot be passed on to the tenants under rent control restrictions. You are required to have a license to operate a motor vehicle. However, there are a number of mechanisms where the license can be suspended or revoked and it’s very expensive to convene an Evidentiary Hearing to protect or restore your license. THIS IS A BAD BILL.
- AB 2343 (Chiu – Extended Time Limits: Unlawful Detainers). Historically, if a tenant does not their rent after receiving a three-day notice to either perform or quit, you can proceed for an eviction. This Bill would extend the time in which to cure to 10 days and it would extend the time in which to respond to an eviction lawsuit from five days to 14 days and thereafter would extend an additional 14 days before you could apply to the court to enter a Default judgment which would allow you to acquire possession. This Bill simply gives the tenant an additional 60 days to stay on the premises and force you, through extortion, to pay money in order to get them to voluntarily surrender.
- SB 827 (Wiener) would authorize high density housing near rapid transit areas. They would be within a one-half mile radius of the transit stop. No limitation on density or height.
- SB 831 (Wiechowski -Accessory Dwelling Units). This would allow granny flats more flexibility as it applies to both single family and multi-family residential zones.
This year, we did not see a great deal of focus on the repeal of Costa-Hawkins and burdensome or inappropriate protocols associated with the Ellis Act. True, Richard Bloom (Santa Monica) would like to arrange for Ellis Act removals to be concluded in one year. This does not present a great deal of logistic difficulties.
It is essential and important that you attend your local apartment association meetings. When solicited by leadership to contribute to your Political Action Committee to oppose and fight rent control protections, you should do so.
Attorney Michael Millman is a Mar Vista activist.