Thousands of rental housing providers urged lawmakers this week to reject legislation that would provide free legal representation to tenants who face eviction and claim they can’t pay the rent.

On Tuesday, the California Apartment Association asked rental housing owners and operators to contact their representatives in the Assembly and Senate and urge them to vote no on AB 1487 by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Van Nuys.

“While CAA supports efforts to ensure all rental housing providers and tenants know their rights, clogging the court system with delays is not the solution,” CAA said in a communication to California rental housing providers.

Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel

Gabriel’s proposal would provide state funding to give free legal representation to tenants facing eviction and who claim they can’t pay the rent. Rental housing providers in California have endured a year and a half of complicated state and local eviction moratoriums and, in many cases, have provided housing without compensation all the while. Rental assistance dollars still aren’t arriving quickly enough to bring relief.

“AB 1487 is not the solution to help struggling renters,” CAA says in its communication to members. “If the State of California truly wants to help mitigate eviction and displacement, it needs to expedite the processing of rent relief payments, make funding available to address renters who have fallen behind due to COVID and address those tenants who refuse to cooperate with their rental housing provider when applying for rental assistance, even those tenants who make above 80% percent of the area median income.”

Instead of spending money to help tenants pay back rent, AB 1487 would allocate more taxpayer money to lawyers who specialize in dragging out legitimate eviction cases while racking up legal bills for good rental housing providers.

AB 1487 is also redundant. California already provides millions of dollars in funding to help low-income tenants fight evictions, including through the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act and the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account. Cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles also provide $9.8 million and $10 million respectively for eviction defense.

“With the existing funding, unethical tenant attorneys are funded to make false claims about property owners who are simply trying to regain possession of their properties from tenants who have failed to pay rent or who have created problems for other tenants at the property,” reads a letter to Gabriel from CAA and the California Association of Realtors. “These firms that receive funding automatically and consistently utilize the same discovery and jury demands.”

Join CAA’s grassroots campaign to stop AB 1487 by writing to your legislators through the button below.