Newsom Signs California Bill to Tighten Regulations Against Certain ‘No-Fault’ Evictions

Newsom Signs California Bill to Tighten Regulations Against Certain ‘No-Fault’ Evictions

An apartment building in Long Beach, Calif., on Nov. 1, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

10/2/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Californians will see increased tenant protections after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Sept. 30 tightening current law that limits landlords’ ability to evict tenants in certain situations.
Senate Bill 567, authored by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), requires proof by a landlord for what’s known as a “no-fault” eviction, and now mandates property owners or a family member occupy their rental for at least 12 months if they have evicted the tenant from the unit for their own use.
The new provisions become effective April 1, 2024.
Under the new law, property owners are required to move in within 90 days of evicting a tenant, who cannot be over 60, disabled, or terminally ill. Additionally, the owner or family member moving in cannot already live in another rental unit on the property and there must be no comparable units available.
“Although existing law provides for some basic protections from rent-gouging and unjust evictions, it has been proven that there are glaring loopholes in the law that have left too many tenants unprotected from eviction even when in compliance with their lease,” Ms. Durazo said in the Senate analysis of the bill.
Since 2020, existing law capped rent increases at 5 percent plus inflation or no more than 10 percent and required a justifiable cause for no-fault evictions.
According to lawmakers in the recent analysis, the new provisions were proposed after some property owners were found to use loopholes to evict tenants with the intent of substantial renovations or demolition, or to move in a family member or themselves, but then turned around and re-rented the property at a much higher price instead.
“Unfortunately, unscrupulous landlords sometimes claim such a move-in as a basis for eviction, but neither they nor a family member actually move into the unit,” they said.
A man walks along a street in a neighborhood of single-family homes in Los Angeles on July 30, 2021. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

A man walks along a street in a neighborhood of single-family homes in Los Angeles on July 30, 2021. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

To address some of the issues, landlords under the new law are required to provide a written eviction notice with the name of the family member moving in, and the right for tenants to request proof the intended occupant is an owner or related to the owner.
For substantial remodels or demolitions, property owners are now required to have their rental property vacant for at least 30 days after an eviction and must prove the work can only be accomplished safely if the unit is unoccupied. A written notice explaining the work to be done, a timeline, and permits for the renovations is also required, according to the bill’s text.
Supporters of the bill argued it will hold landlords accountable.
“Landlords can assert a no-fault just cause as the reason for eviction without having to prove anything about their actual intent. Tenants facing an unjust eviction cloaked in these magic words are nearly powerless to defend themselves,” they said in the analysis.
But those opposed, including associations of property owners, landlords, property managers, and industry experts, argue the onslaught of regulations by the state may push property owners out of the rental housing market, especially coming on the heels of eviction moratoriums during the COVID pandemic.
“Many of our members are just reeling from the past three years or so of not being able to increase their rent, not being able to collect rent in the LA area. ... Owners have been struggling, liquidating their retirement savings, basically they’ve had no rights for three years under all these COVID regulations,” Daniel Yukelson, executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles told The Epoch Times in a recent interview.
He said since COVID, new regulations have led to a spike in members of the association leaving the industry, with around 100 departing each month while new members are few.
According to the same Senate analysis of the bill, owners who violate the provisions of the new law could be sued by tenants for damages up to three times the actual damages incurred by the eviction, as well as for punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.
Housing units in Huntington Beach, Calif., on March 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Housing units in Huntington Beach, Calif., on March 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Yukelson said such provisions may further push away those interested in the industry.
“If an owner wants to exit the rental housing business, under SB 567, they’re opened up to all kinds of lawsuits from their former tenants. If they make one mistake or don’t do something right, they’re subject to multiple lawsuits,” he said.
Ahead of the governor’s approval, associations representing property owners across the state pleaded, in a letter sent last month, for a veto of the bill.
SB 567’s impacts will badly hurt independent, small “mom-and-pop” property owners who may need assistance making ends meet and require to be housed themselves within their rental property,” said apartment and rental housing associations of Southern California, Orange County, the East Bay, North Valley, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Northern California, and others.
According to the same letter, California has the lowest eviction rate amongst the country’s 10 largest states, and restrictions under the new law are unreasonable and may also lead to tired and outdated rental stock.
“Owners of rental properties are in the housing business, not the eviction business. Evictions are costly and time consuming, and always are a last resort for housing providers. SB 567 poses major barriers for housing providers seeking to remodel and enhance their properties for residents. With rising labor and materials costs, and with the added mandates, property owners will be forced to hold off or forgo improvements altogether,” the letter reads.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

Author

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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