Three Proposed Laws Landlords Need to Write Their Legislators About

On the heels of last year’s successful defeat of a series of tenant-friendly laws, Democratic Assemblymen David Chiu of San Francisco, Richard Bloom of Santa Monica and Rob Bonta of Alameda have introduced legislation proposing new tenant protections.

The following laws, which aim to make it harder to evict tenants and extend timelines before evictions could occur, are up for consideration in Sacramento.

Here are the three bills and my thoughts on them.

1. Assembly Bill 2364 from Bloom makes changes to the Ellis Act, the state law that allows landlords to evict tenants from rent-controlled apartments if they are tearing down a building or getting out of the rental business. Bloom’s bill would make it harder for landlords to evict tenants unit-by-unit and provide one year’s notice before an eviction could occur.

While I don’t think landlords need more restrictions, I don’t think most landlords take the decision to do an Ellis eviction lightly, so I don’t see a problem with providing one year’s notice in most instances. However, if the rents are not covering a landlord’s building-related expenses, which is the one reason I ever recommend my clients Ellis Act a building, it doesn’t seem fair that a landlord would have to float an unprofitable building for a year.

2. Assembly Bill 2343 from Chiu extends the time tenants have to pay rent before being evicted and gives tenants more time to respond to an eviction lawsuit.

The majority of San Francisco landlords are “mom-and-pop” owners who own one or two buildings and do not have deep coffers. Having to float the expenses of a building for any longer than possible, while not receiving an income from the tenants, can be detrimental to a landlord’s financial well-being. There are a number of organizations that assist tenants with paying back rent. There are no organizations that help landlords pay their expenses. Even if a tenant doesn’t pay their rent, the landlords still have to pay their mortgages, utilities, and maintenance expenses. A landlord should not have to float a building, especially when most evictions take months already: months in which the tenant is living rent-free, and landlords seldom recoups those rents.

3. Bonta’s legislation, which he plans to introduce by the end of the week, would force landlords statewide to comply with a list of defined reasons, such as damaging a unit, creating a nuisance or not paying rent, before they could evict someone, a process known as “just-cause” eviction.

This is unnecessary and redundant legislation. A San Francisco landlord already has to prove in court that a tenant has just-cause to be evicted. A jury will usually only find in favor of the landlord based on the reasons cited in Bonta’s legislation. Therefore, the judicial system already has these tenant protections in place.

Please write your state legislators and encourage them not to support these tenant-friendly bills. Landlords have enough restrictions to deal with already. We are in the midst of a housing crisis of epic proportions and making more landlord restrictions is just going to encourage landlords to take their units off the market, occupy their units themselves, or sell to buyers who will occupy those units and take them permanently off the market.

You can find contact information for your California Legislator here.

In San Francisco, Supervisors are opposing State Senator Scott Weiner’s bill which aims to increase existing height limits in neighborhoods within a quarter-mile radius of transit corridors, thus allowing for more housing to be built. Supervisors say the bill would impede the city’s ability to impose affordable housing quotas and other restrictions on developers.

We need to start making housing legislation that does not rely on government-induced restrictions to keep rents low. We need to encourage the development of more housing so that landlord’s want to be landlords and the economics of supply and demand dictate fair prices for tenants.

Thank you,

Natalie M. Drees
Lingsch Realty

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