Capitol Alert

A two-for-one tenant bill now includes rent cap and eviction protections

One of the few remaining tenant protection measures still alive in the California Capitol became a two-for-one bill this weekend, after lawmakers amended rent cap legislation to include eviction restrictions.

The strengthened Assembly Bill 1482, which limits rent increases to no more than 7 percent plus inflation, now also prohibits owners from evicting residents under certain circumstances.

The rent cap and “just-cause” eviction bills kicked off in February as separate items, but were strongly opposed by influential lobbyists representing powerful housing groups.

Legislators narrowly passed the rent cap bill before an important May deadline after it was modified to earn rescinded opposition from the California Association of Realtors. But the eviction proposal, though also amended, was left for dead after that deadline passed and legislators failed to take it up for a vote.

Yet Assemblymen David Chiu, Tim Grayson and Rob Bonta, the three Democrats pushing the legislation, all said they hadn’t abandoned hope to soon send a comprehensive renters’ stability package to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“The session is not over,” Grayson told reporters at the end of May regarding future plans for just-cause eviction. “Delayed a few months? Possibly. But it’s not dead, it’s not over. I promise you, rest assured, this subject will come up again.”

Lawmakers negotiated with the Realtors in May, and the changes led the association to issue a statement rescinding its opposition to both bills. It said the compromise benefited both landlords and tenants.

Late Monday, however, the association said it is opposed to AB 1482 as it currently stands because it does not “appropriately balance tenant protections and private property rights.”

The Keep Families Home coalition therefore said in a Monday morning statement that there is “no valid reason to withhold support for this legislation.”

“With homelessness spiraling out of control in many cities, the combination of protection from rent-gouging and unjust evictions is crucial to addressing California’s housing crisis,” the advocacy coalition released in a statement. “It is time for California to act and protect tenants.”

The entire measure is scheduled to sunset in 2023, a 7-year rollback from its original version and a major concession to lobbyists. And owners who rent 10 or fewer single family homes are now exempted from both the rent cap provision and the eviction restrictions. In the updated version, the bill would guard tenants who’ve lived in a unit for at least 12 months against eviction unless they breach the terms of their lease, like failure to pay rent or engaging in criminal activity on the property.

Property managers would also be required to give either a two-month or one-month warning to tenants before terminating their lease, and the legislation would allow renters an opportunity to fix their offense before eviction.

Some housing groups argue the measure does nothing but stymie production, disrupt the markets and injure homeowners.

“Just cause eviction policies have failed communities across California,” said Sid Lakireddy, president of the California Rental Housing Association. “We will be taking a step backwards with a policy that discourages development of new housing and will further worsen the housing crisis for Californians.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a July 9 hearing.

Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.