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During the first half of 2019, the California Apartment Association fought a deluge of rental housing legislation, from statewide rent control to authorized rent strikes. Below the association summarizes some of these bills and provides their status in the legislature.

 

Statewide rental registry (AB 724)—AB 724 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, would have established a statewide rental registry with an initial price tag north of $20 million and negative privacy implications for both landlords and tenants. Amid opposition from CAA, the bill died when it failed to pass out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee by its deadline. As amended, the proposal sought to create a rental housing registry for all California properties with more than 16 units. Each year, owners of units in these properties would have been forced to report a variety of data to the Department of Housing and Community Development, such as the size of each unit, the number of bathrooms, move-in date, and number of evictions. The information would be published on a public online rental registry portal. Failure to comply would have brought an owner a $50 penalty per unit. According to a bill analysis, the registry would likely have cost more than $20 million to set up, with first-year costs of $8.7 million, and ongoing, annual costs of $7.9 million.

Attack on Costa-Hawkins (AB 36)—AB 36 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, would have weakened California’s Costa-Hawkins Rental
Housing Act, allowing cities and counties to expand local rent control laws to buildings as they turn ten years old, as well as to single-family homes. Amid strong opposition from CAA, Bloom pulled the item from consideration at its first committee hearing, rendering the legislation dead for 2019. Another rent control bill, AB 1482 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, remains at play in the State Senate.

“Just-Cause” for Eviction (AB 1481)—AB 1481 by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and Tim Grayson, D-Concord, would have imposed “just cause” eviction controls across California. AB 1481 would have limited evictions to the listed causes, such as failure to pay rent, a substantial breach of the lease, or use of the property for illegal activity. During CAA’s Legislative Conference in May, more than 400 rental housing owners and managers from across the state walked to the Capitol and advocated against the “just cause” proposal. Soon after, the bill died because it lacked the votes needed to proceed. Although this bill is dead, Assemblymember David Chiu incorporated much of the proposal into AB 1482, a statewide rent control bill now working its way through the Senate. For more on AB 1482, see page 10.

Tenant Unionizing (SB 529)—SB 529 by Senator Durazo, D-Los Angeles, sought special protections for renters’ rights groups, including “just cause” for eviction. Earlier versions of the bill would have allowed tenant groups to withhold rent payments in response to grievances or complaints against a landlord. The bill at one point specified rent increases over the rate of inflation as justification for a rent strike and held that tenants withholding rent could not be evicted for nonpayment. The bill faced intense opposition from CAA and its members, who visited Senators and urged no votes during the association’s Legislative Conference. Soon after, the bill died on the Senate floor.

The above content was provided by Debra Carlton Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, California Apartment Association.

State Senate Approves Statewide Rent Control Bill
The California Senate approved Assembly Bill 1482 from Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). AB 1482 would cap annual rent increases at 5% plus inflation (maximum 10% a year), except for housing built within the last 15 years, single family homes not owned by corporations or trusts, and duplexes with an owner-user. The bill also requires a just cause for eviction.

The bill is headed to Governor Newsom’s desk, where it is likely to pass as his amendments are included in this latest version of the bill. The law would expire in 2030.

“The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America, where you’re seeing high home prices, high rents, evictions and homelessness that we’re all struggling to grapple with,” said Chiu. “Protecting tenants is a critical and obvious component of any strategy to address this.”

2020 SFAA Lease Update and Board Nomination
The SFAA lease committee will be getting together soon to review and make updates to the current lease. If there are any existing or new lease items you’d like the committee to consider, email Vanessa Khaleel at vanessa@sfaa.org.

Also, it’s time to nominate who you’d like the SFAA to consider for the Board. Fill out the Board Nominate form on page 37 and mail or fax to the SFAA office by October 15.

Special Thanks to the San Francisco Fire Department
The SFAA would like to thank the San Francisco Fire Department and Port of San Francisco Fire Marshal Ken Cofflin for detailing the city’s fire-safety requirements and answering questions in the free event hosted by the SFAA in September. For more information, visit the Fire Department’s updated website: sf-fire.org, which has all the information property owners need, in many languages.

Don’t forget! The deadline for R2 buildings (residential non-transient buildings) to upgrade their existing fire alarm systems to meet the 2013 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sound requirement is July 1, 2021. SFFD suggests that building owners find a licensed contractor as soon as possible. As the deadline nears, it will be harder to find a contractor who can comply with the 2021 deadline, and prices could rise as demand increases.  Note: If a building permit is filed for construction of $50,000 or more, it will trigger the mandatory alarm system upgrade before the 2021 deadline (unless the work is for a mandatory seismic retrofit). Building owners should fill out the Statement of Compliance form on sf-fire.org once they’ve met the requirements of the new code. 

SFAA August Member Meeting
The August 19th SFAA member meeting was held at the Jewish Community Center in Kanbar Hall. Yat-Cheong Au of AEC Alarms sponsored the meeting and Dave Wasserman of Wasserman & Stern moderated the meeting.

The meeting began with the monthly Legal Q & A, which was moderated by Dave Wasserman of Wasserman & Stern. Kevin Greenquist, Law Offices of Kevin Greenquist; Steve Williams, Fried & Williams LPP; and Shauna Matlin, Matlin & Associates sat on the panel.

Next, tenant-attorneys took the stage to answer SFAA members’ questions. Jackie Ravenscroft, Tobener Ravenscroft; Danie Wayne, Wolford & Wayne; Andrew Westly, Westly Law Office; and Josephine L. Alioto, LEDA Law sat on the panel. They discussed harassment, rent control, and people having more than one primary address.

For minutes from the member meeting and more information on the legislative updates, go to www.sfaa.org.