CAA members have flooded the inboxes of state lawmakers with requests that they reject a bill that would allow the California courts to cut rents by 25%.
More than 55,000 messages have gone to members of the Senate and Assembly, part of a grassroots public affairs campaign by the California Apartment Association. The messages urged no votes on AB 828 by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. They came from rental housing providers, vendors that serve the industry, and attorneys who practice landlord-tenant law.
“While I understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty for many Californians, AB 828 will do nothing to address our housing challenges,” the messages to lawmakers said. “It will simply exacerbate divisions between landlords and tenants while creating a great deal of financial uncertainty and distress for the entire rental housing industry.”
The messaging campaign already has prompted a positive response. Some lawmakers, including Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, have publicly opposed the bill. The Southern California News Group also has editorialized against the measure
“Assembly Bill 828 purports to protect tenants during an emergency, but poses a grave threat to property owners and established contracts – and could obliterate California’s already tight rental market even after the crisis passes,” says the editorial, which appears in the Orange County Register and includes an excerpt from CAA’s opposition letter.
Specifically, AB 828 would do the following:
- Allow the courts to force landlords to reduce rents by 25% — even if a tenant does not show a COVID-19 hardship or need.
- Allow the courts to set rents and change rental agreements already in place.
- Protect nuisance tenants. The bill does not require tenants to answer an unlawful detainer complaint.
- Mandate that rental property owners demonstrate an economic hardship to collect the contracted rent.
AB 828 by Assemblyman Phil Ting has not yet been assigned to a committee. A hearing date could be set after the Senate reconvenes Monday, May 4.
The bill originally dealt with human trafficking and reached the Senate in that form. Ting amended the bill April 8 to deal with rent prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CAA’s leadership recognizes that everyone is struggling in our current environment, but AB 828 goes too far. Unfortunately, what has been left out of this and other proposals are dollars devoted specifically for rental assistance, as well as mortgage and property tax forbearance.