California Bill Would Tighten Restrictions Against Evictions for Property Owners

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California Bill Would Tighten Restrictions Against Evictions for Property Owners

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

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

9/26/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Evicting a tenant in California may soon prove more difficult after state lawmakers passed a bill that would require proof by a landlord for what’s known as a “no fault” eviction.
Senate Bill 567, authored by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), would also mandate 12 months of occupancy for owners or a family member, if occupying the rental was the cause for the tenant eviction. Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 14 to sign it into law or veto.
Under SB 567, property owners would have to move in within 90 days of evicting a tenant, who cannot be over 60, disabled, or terminally ill. Additionally, the bill would require that the owner or family member moving in cannot already live in another rental unit on the property and that there are 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.
Effective in 2020, Assembly Bill 1482—the existing law—provided tenant protections by capping rent increases at 5 percent plus inflation or no more than 10 percent and required a justifiable cause for no-fault evictions. The bill sunsets in 2030.
According to the recent analysis, since the current law became effective some property owners have used loopholes to evict tenants with the intent of a substantial renovation or demolition, or to move in a family member or themselves, but have 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,” according to the analysis.
SB 567 addresses such issues by requiring a written eviction notice, 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.
Maria Elena Durazo speaks onstage at the 2019 Women's March in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019. (Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Women's March Los Angeles)

Maria Elena Durazo speaks onstage at the 2019 Women's March in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019. (Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Women's March Los Angeles)

For those seeking to evict tenants over a substantial remodel or demolition, such must require a vacancy of at least 30 days and owners 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 are also required, according to the bill text.
Multiple cities statewide are considering local ordinances to tighten up the state’s current tenant protections such as Burbank, Chula Vista, and San Diego, according to a Sept. 14 Assembly Floor analysis.
In the same analysis, lawmakers referenced one example of such “abuses of power” from last year when an owner in Encinitas evicted several tenants based on a substantial remodel, including new paint and flooring, but later re-rented the units for 50 percent more without completing the repairs.
“Jurisdictions across the state are seeing significant abuse of the substantial remodel provision,” they wrote.
Those in support of the bill argue that the state’s current law has failed to prevent unjust evictions.
“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,” wrote supporters of the bill including public advocates, sponsors, various nonprofits, and others.

What SB 567 Could Mean for California Property Owners

But some opposed to the bill, like property owners, say they are being pushed out of the rental housing market from overregulation, 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.
With about 10,000 members, Mr. Yukelson said regulations in California have led to around 100 members monthly leaving the rental industry, since the onset of such due to COVID.
“There’s just regulations like this that are basically pushing people out of business. I see it in our membership all the time. We’re losing numbers all the time. Our membership is a leaky bucket,” he said.
If the new bill is signed into law, exiting the rental housing business could also now prove difficult with potential civil lawsuits from failing to meet the bill’s eviction requirements, which Mr. Yukelson said could 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.
Apartments in Long Beach, Calif., on Nov. 1, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

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

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.
One of the unintended consequences of the bill, according to Chip Ahlswede, vice president of external affairs for the Apartment Association of Orange County, is the 12-month occupancy requirement for an owner or their family moving in.
“There’s so many different reasons why somebody comes into a unit … a kid going to college … someone getting sick or needing palliative care … we’re right here next to Hollywood where [Hollywood] shoots happen for six months at a time on location,” he told The Epoch Times.
In such situations, unexpected things happen, he said, such as a child in college transferring schools, or the death of a sick family member, before the required 12-month period.
“It seems like it was a quick simple answer to a complex problem,” he said of the bill.
Others also say the current law hasn’t had enough time to show its effectiveness, with the current one rushed.
“AB 1482 hasn’t had sufficient time to do what it was intended to do. It went into effect in early 2020, right as the pandemic hit, and obviously we had lots of eviction moratoriums and other things in place,” said Molly Kirkland, director of public affairs for the Southern California Rental Housing Association—representing landlords and property managers in San Diego, Imperial, and southern Riverside counties.
She additionally said the added regulations could push out independent owners.
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)

“We still have quite a few property owners who are owed well over $10,000 in COVID era rent … when you keep adding more and more regulation, on top of what’s already in place, it becomes difficult for owners and managers to operate rental housing and our fear is that’s just going to push independent owners out of the marketplace,” she told The Epoch Times.
In a letter to the governor sent earlier this month, other apartment associations representing landlords and property managers all over the state asked 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 bill 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.
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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