Bill targets landlords who’ve received COVID-19 assistance

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A bill strongly opposed by CAA that would create a statewide rental registry has been amended to target landlords who’ve received government assistance in response to the coronavirus.

AB 2406 by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, would now require landlords to submit a long list of information about their buildings and their tenants to the state if they own five or more rental units — and accept rental assistance payments from federal or state COVID-19 programs.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks

The California Apartment Association also opposed a previous version of the bill that would have applied to all landlords with five units or more.

Limiting the bill to owners who’ve received COVID-19 doesn’t improve the bill and even adds a level of unfairness, CAA contends. 

“… if AB 2406 were to become law, it would take effect after rental property owners have received federal or state assistance,” CAA says in a letter to Wicks. “Placing a requirement after the fact is not a fair demand. Owners should not be surprised with an extensive list of information that will be made public far after they receive funds.”

As with the earlier version of the bill, AB 2406 would require affected owners, under penalty of perjury, to submit a rental registry form each year including a variety of data, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in each unit, the number of evictions and the reasons given for those terminations over the past year, and the number of days a unit went vacant. The information would be published on a public online rental registry portal.

Landlords who fail to submit registration forms by the deadline would be prohibited from issuing certain notices, including notices to raise the rent or terminate a tenancy.

“There are other bills, like SB 1410 (Gonzales), that are laser-focused on helping tenants and landlords, and those bills will require owners to provide some basic information such as rent and assurances that tenants will not be evicted,” CAA writes in its letter. “We don’t believe AB 2406 is necessary. AB 2271 (Gabriel) also requires courts to collect and provide more detailed information about evictions, which is a better approach than requiring owners to provide the information and then penalizing them for not doing so.”

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