SB 1190 (Durazo)

“The measure would require all landlords to offer new tenants the option to pay the security deposit in six monthly installments or to pay the deposit in full…”

SB 1190 (Durazo) would allow cities and counties to bring an action to enjoin or seek to remedy any alleged violation of last year’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019. And those same cities and counties would be empowered to investigate and enforce the provisions of that Act.

What does this mean in English? Cities and counties could hire numerous attorneys to represent tenants regarding disputes about the amount of rent due or paid, habitability issues, harassment, at-fault and non-fault evictions, notices to the tenants, relocation assistance, who may occupy the unit, and much more.

Separately, the bill also addresses another issue.

Existing law that allows a tenant to notify the landlord that the tenant or a household member was a victim of an act of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or abuse of an elder or a dependent adult and that tenant intends to terminate the tenancy would be changed as well.

The decision of the tenant to terminate a tenancy early would:

  • Expand the residential tenancy termination ability by crime victims to include the ability to notify the landlord of their intent to terminate the tenancy because an immediate family member, who may not be living in the same dwelling, was a crime victim.
  • Expand the list of eligible crimes to include:
    • A crime that caused bodily injury or death.
    • A crime that included the exhibition, drawing, brandishing or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon.
    • A crime that included the use of force against the victim or a threat of force against the victim.
    • Prohibit landlords from keeping the tenant’s security deposit if the tenant exercises these new rights.
    • Prohibit landlords from refusing to rent a dwelling unit to an otherwise qualified tenant solely on the basis that the tenant previously has exercised the tenant’s ability to terminate their tenancy as a crime victim, even though this may be extremely problematic to all of the existing tenants occupying the same property.

Unquestionably the potential fiscal impact to the courts due to cities and counties representing tenants could be significant due to increased workload cost pressures to adjudicate suits filed by city attorneys, district attorneys and county counsels should those entities decide to represent their tenants in court as noted in this article. The court caseload could also increase which should have a negative impact of court services.

The fate of the measure is hanging in the balance. The Senate will vote very soon on SB 1190.

Another measure that we are featuring in this article is AB 3260 (Wicks). The measure would require all landlords to offer new tenants the option to pay the security deposit in six monthly installments or pay the de posit in full before taking occupancy of the rental unit.

The author and tenant rights entities argue that given the rent increases of the past decade, many prospective tenants find it difficult to save enough for the security deposit. The central argument for the bill—particularly the mandate that landlords are to accept the monthly installments in lieu of upfront security deposits—is that it will increase housing affordability for millions of tenants who are “affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It is argued that many tenants, or potential tenants, were struggling financially, even before the Governor proclaimed the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Tenants argue that over 50 percent are “rent burdened” meaning that at least 30 percent of their income went to rent, and over a quarter were “severely rent-burdened” meaning that at least 50 percent of their income went to rent. And, tenants argue that 13.5 percent of rental units are estimated to be “overcrowded” meaning that they held more than one resident per room.

Finally, they may be forced to move because they are no longer employed and the unemployment benefits are insufficient to make ends meet.

The author offers as a closing argument the following:

“California must also consider the high costs of simply moving into an apartment… with over 40 percent of the population having less than $400 in savings, a security deposit leaves millions of Californians unable to meet vital expenses or save for their futures… housing is becoming completely out of reach for average renters.”

So, we ask of the author and supporters, will this bill solve a problem or create a much bigger one for households seeking to rent new units?

Ron may be reached at Ron@CalStrategic.com