By Becky Bower
Although most legislators are preoccupied with the 2018 primaries, the number of passed, pending, and failed rental housing bills continues to grow. This June, familiar rent control, “just cause” eviction and “ban-the-box” legislation is an ongoing rental housing topic across the nation, while newcomer laws regulating apartment solar panels, lease terminations with tenants suffering domestic violence, and employment questions around marijuana have popped up. Take a look at the passed, pending, and future rental housing bills nationwide and in your property’s state below.
PASSED: Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)
Commonly referred to as the “Dodd-Frank Reform Bill”, this gigantic bill not only impacts regulations for banks but includes changes for public housing and the three credit bureaus. These changes consist of physical inspections of all small public housing projects every 3 years (on top of additional regulations if a project is deemed “troubled”) and free credit security freezes.
PENDING: Tenant Protection Act (S. 1758)
The Tenant Protection Act will amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) with further requirements for landlords and consumer reporting agencies (your tenant screening provider). The use of eviction records, or “housing court records”, will become more limited under this bill. Tenant screening providers will be prohibited from using eviction records (or any other court records pertaining to housing) in their resident screening report unless 1) the record resulted in a judgment of possession; 2) the decision of the court in the record’s case is not being appealed; and 3) the record is no more than 3 years old. Since being introduced on August 3, 2017, this bill has not made any progress. You can expect to hear more about this bill this year.
Presently, eviction records are allowed to date back up to 7 years in most states, and may include both judgments and filings so as to inform properties about applicants who demonstrate a trend of poor residency.
PASSED: Landlord Tenant Act (SB 1376)
This bill revises the procedures Arizona property owners must do when handling a tenant’s abandoned private property. Landlords will not be responsible for storing a tenant’s perishable items, plants and animals on behalf of the tenant. Personal property that is contaminated (poses a health and safety risk) may be disposed of at the property owner’s discretion. Additional changes may apply.
PASSED: Alterations Exemption Eliminated (SB 1409)
This bill eliminates “alterations” from the Maintenance, Repair, Replace, Alterations (MRRA) exemptions for the purposes of prime contracting.
FAILED: Security Deposits (HB 2263)
HB 2263 would change the regulations on security deposits – making it so that if a tenant does not dispute the deductions from a security deposit (or the amount due and payable) within 45 days after the tenancy termination, the amount due is final. If this bill passes all further claims will be waived.
PASSED: San Francisco’s Revised Fair Chance Ordinance (see ordinance)
Effective October 1, 2018, employers in the city of San Francisco are prohibited from inquiring about, requiring disclosure of, or basing an employment decision on a crime that has been decriminalized. One offence that would apply, for example, is the non-commercial possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana. The amended ordinance also further restricts employer’s ability to ask applicants about criminal convictions – aligning with the state’s “ban the box” law.
PASSED: Santa Monica’s Anti-Eviction Ordinance (see news release)
The Santa Monica City Council passed an ordinance that restricts no-fault evictions during the school year. Some examples of no-fault evictions are when an owner decided to move into the unit or remove the building from the rental market. Property owners are prohibited from evicting a tenant (under the no-fault eviction clause) during the school year if the tenant have a minor (under 18 years old) living in the unit or if the tenant works as staff (like custodians, cafeteria workers, etc.) at a school or state-licensed day care in the city of Santa Monica.
PENDING: Accessory Dwelling Units (SB 831)
SB 831 eliminates some of the regulations and fees regarding accessory dwelling units (also known as granny flats or in-law units). These include eliminating all local agency, school district, special district and water corporation fees, requiring an accessory dwelling unit application to be automatically approved if a local agency does not act within 120 days, and allow for the creation of an accessory dwelling unit on lots with existing or proposed homes. If this bill passes setbacks will be no greater than 5 feet and create an amnesty program that would ease the permitting process (active until 2026). This bill has been sent to the Assembly.
PENDING: Withholding Transportation Funds until Housing Quota Met (AB 1759)
This bill would require each city or county to meet the minimum housing production goal (as is written in their general development plan) in order to be eligible to receive a portion of the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program’s remaining funds. This bill is co-sponsored by the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtors.
PENDING: Price Gouging During a State of Emergency (AB 1919)
AB 1919 would make it a misdemeanor for a person, business, or other entity to increase the monthly rental price to an existing or prospective tenant by more than 10% within 30 days of a declaration of emergency. It would also be a misdemeanor to evict a tenant after the proclamation of a state of an emergency for the purpose of renting the property out. AB 1919 would also create a state-mandated local program to monitor and manage this new crime.
PENDING: Homeless Youth Act of 2018 (SB 918)
This bill would establish $60 million in grants from the cannabis tax and other funds to California’s growing homelessness crisis, particularly among minors, and create an Office of Homelessness Youth within the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). No more than 40% of the total funds granted in a given year would be used for shelter programs.
PENDING: CalWORKS Housing Assistance (AB 1921)
AB 1921 would allow family recipients of CalWORKS to 16 total days of temporary housing assistance regardless of interruptions. It would also allow recipients to use their payments towards shared housing.
PENDING: Homeless Persons Services Block Grant (AB 3171)
Introduced by Assemblymen Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) and Ricardo Lara (D – Los Angeles), this bill would establish a Local Homelessness Solutions Program and create the Local Homelessness Solutions Account, which would provide funding to aid impacted cities. Funds drawn from the general fund to homelessness solutions account would go towards shelter diversion, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing. This bill is still in committee.
PENDING: Eviction Process Changes (AB 2343)
This bill would require landlords to wait longer before starting the eviction process. Supported by Assemblyman David Chiu (D – San Francisco), the eviction notice wait time would exclude judicial holidays (including Saturday and Sunday). For tenants who fail to appear and defend, this bill would impose a 3-day period before the clerk may enter the above-describe default judgement and writ of execution. If passed, these provisions would become operative on September 1, 2019.
PENDING: Evictions due to Unlawful Weapons (AB 2930)
Existing law allows rental properties in the City of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Sacramento to file for an action on an unlawful detainer to abate the nuisance caused by illegal conduct involving unlawful weapons or ammunition. This law will sunset on January 1, 2019. AB 2930 would eliminate the sunset date and impose a state-mandated local program.
FUTURE: New Solar Requirements for New Apartments (see news release)
The California Energy Commission has adopted new building standards that would require new homes to have solar photovoltaic systems. Effective January 1st, 2020, apartment buildings 3-stories or less and all single-family homes built after 2020 must include solar panels. Included in the new energy standards are new insulation and air filtration requirements.
FUTURE: California Rent Control Initiatives
Tenants’ rights activists have submitted their signatures for their state-wide ballot measure (called “The Housing Freeze”) which would allow rent caps on properties and open the door for rent control on single-family homes and new construction. It is uncertain whether or not there are enough qualifying signatures to bring this state-wide rent control initiative to the November 2018 ballot.
For more information on how to get involved, join the California Apartment Association’s campaign to preserve the Costa-Hawkins act at NoHousingFreeze.org.
You should also be aware that tenant’s rights activists have launched several separate rent control initiatives in cities across the state. Below is the current status:
- Activists in cities still collecting signatures: Pomona, Santa Ana, Santa Rosa, Glendale, and Sacramento.
- Activists in cities that have submitted their signatures: National City, Santa Cruz, and Inglewood.
- Activists in cities that have failed to meet the signature requirements: Pasadena.
None have officially made it to the ballot yet.
FAILED: Just Cause Evictions (AB 2925)
Promised by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D – Alameda), AB 2925 would have imposed dangerous state-wide ‘just cause’ eviction controls.
FAILED: Ellis Act Revisions (AB 2364)
AB 2364 would have weakened the Ellis Act (which protects property owner’s rights to leave the rental housing industry) and placed greater requirements on it.
PASSED: Lease Termination under Family Violence Circumstances (HB 834)
HB 834 allows tenants to terminate a rental lease agreement in order to escape family violence. The tenant will be responsible for any unpaid rent, prorated to the effective date of the termination. This will apply to lease agreements entered into, on, or after July 1, 2018. This includes renewals, modifications, or extensions of the agreement on or after such date.
PENDING: Residential Landlord-Tenant Code Amendment (HB 223)
This bill allows property managers and owners to charge a tenant screening fee to cover the costs of the tenant screening. This fee shall not exceed $25.
PENDING: Recreational Marijuana Ballot Initiative
Be aware that a measure that would place a ballot question on whether recreational marijuana should be legalized and taxed in Illinois cleared the Senate and will now move onto the House. This ballot question would only be advisory, so even if citizens do vote in favor of legalizing marijuana, lawmakers would still need to pass an official bill. Considering that the state has already legalized medical marijuana, and this measure cleared the senate in a 37-13 vote, it is highly likely that a bill supporting recreational marijuana will pop up in the next few years.
Both of these bills aim to repeal the Rent Control Preemption Act, which currently prohibits local governments from enacting rent control. Additionally up to 10 wards in the city of Chicago will see a proposal on the topic on the March 20th primary ballot. The Gazette Chicago reports that this includes the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 12th, and 25th wards.
PENDING: Seattle files Appeal of “first-in-time” (or “first come, first served”) Overturned Law
While a Seattle ordinance requiring landlords and property managers to accept rental applications that meet their rental standards on a first come, first served basis was overturned in March, the Seattle City Attorney’s office has filed an appeal.
PASSED: Seattle Ordinance Bans Rental Housing Bidding Platforms for a Year (CB 119198)
Rental housing bidding platforms allow rental applicants to bid on rental housing listings property owners put up online. Due to the City’s already competitive rental market, the City of Seattle has placed a ban on these online bidding platforms/applications to conduct a study on the impact these services would have on the rental market.
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