05 Jun June 2019
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
— John Quincy Adams
Every week a new tale is published in newspapers across the state about the affordability crisis plaguing the housing stock in California. We know the problem is comprehensive: combining a substantial lack of development with increasingly overbearing regulations. Cities and counties across the state are considering policies that make the most sense for their region. Your state legislators are also attempting to solve the issue, but many are trying to apply a universal uniform approach to the entire state. As anyone who has driven from Southern California to Northern California can attest, the housing issues in San Diego are very different from Bakersfield and even more distinct as you head further up north to places like Napa.
This is why it is so imperative that you, our members, make the necessary calls to your legislators and their staff. With over 25,000 units, we understand the unique challenges our tenants are facing, and it is incumbent on us to deliver that message. Otherwise, legislators only hear the enraged and extreme complaints that come from affordable housing advocates. Tenant advocates have learned from years past that the best way to get something into law is to form a large coalition and offer a dozen possible alternatives, and then hope one makes it to the finishing line. This is partially why there are over a hundred housing bills introduced this year.
We know that the best way to counter the onslaught of poorly conceived legislation is to have an established presence in the process and ensure that every legislator within our area understands how this will be uniquely detrimental to their district. This is why you have been receiving so many red alerts, and requests to make calls. Through your efforts, we have defeated many anti-rental owner bills, but some of the most egregious remain.
Bills like Assembly Bill 1481 and 1482 would mandate just cause tenant protections for basically every tenant you accept. To wit, AB 1481 (Grayson and Bonta) would require an explanation for every termination where the tenant has been in the unit for six months or more, unless the rental owner would rather provide relocation assistance (regardless of the income or need). AB 1482 mandates a cap on rent increases of 5 percent + CPI in any 12-month period, and also creates a rebuttable presumption of avoiding the law if an explanation for eviction is not provided (re: just cause). This rebuttable presumption functionally creates just cause protections for tenants, subjecting property owners and other tenants to unnecessary and costly legal proceedings. Mandating just cause protections for basically any tenant, regardless of income or need, will make it nearly impossible to remove problematic tenants who disrupt other tenants’ quiet enjoyment. Furthermore, a rent cap will only incentivize property owners to raise rent every year and not work with the tenant on a better agreement. In both bills, the risk of enormous cost pressures stemming from litigation is immense.
Just cause tenant protections have historically been proven to only hurt good tenants. By requiring a legal justification for every eviction, it becomes extremely difficult to evict a tenant that is bothersome, disruptive, and abusive to other tenants. In many counties across California, rental owners are able to initiate lease terminations and no-fault evictions; protecting other tenants from being required to testify in an eviction proceeding. We all know tenants do not testify against their neighbors for fear of retaliation; instead, they make anonymous complaints to us and expect us to address the issue. And, this approach makes perfect and reasonable sense. Unfortunately, without no fault evictions we are in a bit of a quandary.
Many issues that arise do not necessitate a police report, making evidence of the problematic tenant difficult to obtain. In these instances, good tenants are put at risk and eventually decide to move. Over time, the community dynamic we worked so hard to foster erodes to the detriment of everyone. California already has a comprehensive set of policies around eviction, retaliation and harassment to ensure tenants are protected from all forms of discrimination. Yet, as long as the media continues to share stories of elderly or children being displaced from homes, we will have to keep carrying the proverbial banner. We know these stories are the one percent narratives, but legislators are easily swayed by the court of public opinion. We must keep sharing our side and standing up for rental owners and the tenants who are satisfied with the status quo.
Keep making those calls friends, or this tale will have a very tragic ending for all of the characters.