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California News

Are you renting in California? Lawmakers consider new protections for tenants

Amid a housing shortage that has pushed low-income renters onto the streets and made it difficult for those with moderate incomes to find affordable options, California lawmakers introduced new measures this year to ease the cost of housing. high life and prevent evictions.

Here are two bills to help tenants that cleared a major hurdle and failed proposal this week as the Legislature took action before a key Friday deadline:

Passed: Limitation of Security Deposits

The Assembly easily approved a bill prohibiting landlords from charging more than a month’s rent as a security deposit.

Assemblyman Matt Haney, Democrat of San Francisco and author of Assembly Bill 12, said soaring rents are making it increasingly difficult for tenants to pay security deposits, which can up to three months’ rent, or more than $10,000 in some cities.

“That means a security deposit can be as much as a down payment on a house in many parts of the country,” Haney said before the House approved the measure. “This is pushing many families, including those whose people earn minimum wage, to either forgo necessities like food and utilities or take on more debt in order to be approved for housing.”

Groups representing landlords have opposed the measure, arguing that the lack of affordable housing, not security deposits, is the real problem facing California renters and that AB 12 would hurt landlords.

“Charging security deposits allows rental property providers to balance the risks associated with renting property,” California Rental Housing Assn said. written in an invoice analysis. “Without the ability to collect enough security deposit to cover potential damages, rental property providers may decide to take their homes off the rental market, further exacerbating the housing supply crisis.”

The bill will now be considered by the Senate, which has until September 14 to decide.

Adopted: limiting evictions

In 2019, the Legislature reached an agreement with landlords and real estate agents on a bill to establish new rules against evictions and cap annual rent increases at 5% plus inflation.

But State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) said those protections don’t go far enough. Durazo introduced Senate Bill 567 this year to lower the cap on rents to inflation, not to exceed 5% per year, and strengthen oversight of authorized evictions to ensure that landlords do not exploit this which she described as loopholes in the law.

Facing pressure from business groups, apartment associations, and moderate Democrats, Durazo later removed the rent cap provision from the bill. But advocates have pushed to maintain accountability measures that would ensure landlords don’t use evictions to evict a lower-paying tenant in order to raise rent later.

“We are all feeling the impact of the homelessness crisis in our neighborhoods,” Durazo said during a Wednesday debate on the bill. “Part of what we need to do is stop the flow of families and people into homelessness.”

Durazo’s changes to the bill did little to appease opposition. Republicans and a handful of Democrats opposed the measure as unfair and costly for homeowners.

“This bill will affect small rental property owners the most,” said Senate Republican Leader Brian Jones of Santee. “This bill goes a bit too far.

The measure narrowly passed the Senate and is now heading to the Assembly.

Failed: extension of rent control

Lawmakers this week killed off a proposal to give tenants more protections through a measure to expand rent control.

State Sen. Aisha Wahab (D-Hayward) introduced Senate Bill 466 to update a 1995 law that limited rent control in California and allowed certain newer buildings to become eligible for rent caps. price.

“We are allowing landlords to raise rents with impunity while taxpayers foot the bill for a problem that could be alleviated if jurisdictions were allowed to adopt common sense rent regulation policies,” Wahab said during of a debate in the Senate on Wednesday, while clutching a sleeping bag. as a support to take stock of the worsening homelessness crisis.

California voters rejected an extension of rent control twice in the recent election. Landlord groups, including the California Apartment Assn., argue that rent controls are hampering construction and discouraging landlords from putting new units on the market.

That argument prevailed in the Senate on Wednesday, when SB 466 largely failed, with several Democrats either withholding their votes or joining Republicans in opposing the bill.

It is unusual for Democrats, who control the Legislative Assembly, to introduce bills knowing they will fail, as this exposes divisions within the ruling party. Wahab said she expected her bill to fall short, but it was important to see who would support it.

“I think it’s important for advocates and activists to understand who will take on a tough issue and who really cares about affordable housing,” Wahab said. “I thought it was really important.”

California Daily Newspapers

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