2016 State Legislation to Watch

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Aimee Inglis and Leah Simon-Weisberg
Tenants Together

As California's only grassroots statewide tenant organization, Tenants Together plays a key role in monitoring state bills, stopping bad legislation, and advancing laws that are good for tenants. We prioritize movement-building work, but when there are key bills to kill or the movement wants to take on a policy fight, Tenants Together draws from years of experience engaging in the Capitol to make a difference. Here's our positions and analysis of key tenant bills for this year.


Good for tenants:


SB 1053 Housing Opportunities Act (Leno) – Support 

California already prohibits discrimination based on source of income. This bill would clarify that receiving a government subsidy to pay your rent, like Section 8, would be considered a source of income and is protected from discrimination. This is a priority bill for Tenants Together in this legislative session because Section 8 discrimination is often a cover for racism and classism. Many tenants are losing their homes due to a landlord no longer accepting Section 8 or losing their voucher because it is exceedingly difficult to find housing in a market where landlords regularly discriminate. SB 1053 would give voucher-holders a fair chance, one important step in California’s housing crisis. Take action!


AB 2819 Unlawful detainer proceedings (Chiu) – Support 

Under current law, if a tenant does not prevail in an eviction lawsuit within 60 days, all court records arising from the case become public and may be reported to credit agencies. This information appears on the tenant’s credit report for up to seven years and tenant screening reports indefinitely. AB 2819 puts forward a commonsense solution, one that would keep tenant records private unless landlords prevail within 60 days of filing eviction lawsuits. 


AB 2282 Rental housing: large-scale buy-to-rent investors (Calderon) – Support

In 2015 Tenants Together’s report sounded the alarm bell about the role of Wall Street landlords impacting California’s rental market. From our data, we found that these landlords charge higher than median rents and put the burden of repairs on tenants. The state needs more systematic data collection to monitor the impact and protect tenants. This bill would establish a rental registration program for owners of single-family homes who intend who use the home regularly as rental property. 

Status: Failed to pass out of Assembly Housing committee


AB 2283 Public retirement system: investments: securitized rental homes (Calderon) – Support 

This bill would establish an Office of Ombudsman to monitor the activity of landlords who securitize rental properties to inform the investment activities of CalPERS and CalSTERS. Criteria currently include maintaining affordable rents, doing lawful eviction notices, and following non-discriminatory laws. If these criteria are not met, CalPERS and CalSTERS would be urged to divest from securitized rentals.

Status: Failed to pass out of Assembly Housing committee


AB 2502 Land use: zoning regulations (Mullin, Chiu) – Support 

Known as the “Palmer fix,” (Palmer was a bad court decision that put the constitutionality of inclusionary zoning into question), this bill would strengthen inclusionary zoning laws. For decades, local inclusionary housing programs have proven to be one of the most effective tools for producing new homes affordable to working families. Nearly 170 cities and counties in California have adopted inclusionary housing policies as a complement to other local, state, and federal strategies to address the state’s ongoing affordable housing shortage.


SB 1150 Mortgages and deeds of trust: successors in interest (Leno) – Support

Currently, widows, widowers and certain heirs are being denied a fair chance to remain in their homes, as mortgage servicers deny them communication, information, and the opportunity to be considered for a loan modification. SB 1150 will provide surviving family members with the opportunity to receive basic information about the loan, request an assumption and loan modification, and be given a fair consideration as to whether they will be able keep their home.


Bills to kill:


AB 2760 Landlord and tenant: support animals (Mathis) – Oppose (Bill killed!)

Tenants Together opposes AB 2760, which would increase burdens on disabled people in California who rent and need the aid of support animals. State Fair Housing provides tenants a right to support animals, and this law would violate this right. Landlords are already allowed to request certain documentation in relation to support animals when the need is not obvious, such as a letter from a social worker or psychiatrist. This bill singles out tenants to require additional hurdles to go through to get the support they need.


AB 2312 Unlawful detainer: payment of rent funds (Gatto) – Oppose (Bill killed!)

This bill would have required tenants to post money to have access to the courts and defend themselves in eviction cases. It would have turned every tenant attorney into a debt collector, requiring tenants who are being sued for non-payment of rent to give to their attorney to hold in trust rent money during the time they are defending their eviction lawsuit. It is unclear what problem this bill sought to solve, and adds additional unnecessary regulations to the Unlawful Detainer process. This bill was written by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and authored by Democratic Assemblymember Mike Gatto who represents Los Angeles.

Thank you Coalition for Economic Survial and LA Tenants Union for mobilizing members in opposition, and Renters Day LA for weighing in with their opposition. Read more.


AB 2003 Unlawful detainer proceedings (Lackey, Gallagher, Wagner) – Oppose (Bill killed!)

This bill seeks to distort the elements of a habitability defense by requiring that tenants list actions in their unlawful detainer answer that are not required.  State law does not require tenants to first file a complaint with the landlord or a government agency in order to raise a breach of the warranty of habitability defense.  Many cities have routine inspection programs where code enforcement officers cite building and health code violations based on their own assessment, not by tenant complaints. AB 2003 adds requirements to the eviction procedure that that would be inconsistent with local government code enforcement programs.  The bill has been characterized by landlords as preventing “lawsuit abuse,” but in reality it hinders the ability for tenants to effectively defend themselves against a lawsuit brought against them by their landlord.  


SB 1142 Disability access. (Moorlach) – Oppose 

This bill would roll back disability rights in California and harm renters, a disproportionate number of which are low-income and disabled. This bill would let federal law, which has weaker disability protections, supersede state law. We need stronger disability protections, not weaker ones, to address many of the social problems that affect California residents.


AB 2391 Residential property: possession by declaration (Steinorth) – Oppose (Bill killed!)

The bill seeks to make it easier for property owners to summarily remove alleged “unauthorized occupants."  The bill would substantially change landlord-tenant law, bypassing the most basic due process requirement of an opportunity to be heard in court. Proponents have made no showing that existing laws governing trespass and eviction are insufficient to sort out occupancy by unauthorized persons.  Rather than jeopardize the rights of legitimate tenants with the proposed AB 2391, the focus should be on forcing property owners to exercise due diligence to secure properties after acquisition. There is already a legal process to evict unauthorized persons that does work quickly.


AB 1641 Shuttle services: loading and unloading of passengers (Allen) – Oppose 

Evidence indicates that the availability of the shuttles, for on-average better-paid employees of Silicon Valley technology companies, is driving up housing costs in San Francisco.  The high housing prices are fueling evictions and displacement of low- to moderate-income people to the suburbs and preventing other, low- to moderate-income people from moving into the Bay Area, let alone San Francisco, to be closer to their jobs.  Tenants Together opposes AB 1641, which would allow local transit authorities to permit private carriers such as commuter vehicles/shuttles to use public transportation bus stops for the express purpose of transporting exclusive clientele, such as employees, to and from places of work, education, or services.




For up-to-date bill status information, go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/ and enter the bill number for quick lookup.

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