CAA-opposed bill that would boost eviction jury trials hits snag


A CAA-opposed bill that would have encouraged jury trials in eviction cases — greatly delaying a landlord’s ability to speedily eject a nonpaying tenant — failed in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, May 7, and cannot return until at least next year.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano

AB 969 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, focused on cases in which a tenant claims he or she withheld rent because a landlord failed to make repairs to an apartment.

Under current law, a tenant already can use this argument in court to fight an eviction. The tenant, however, must be current on rent to do so.

The bill would have removed this requirement, allowing a renter who had not paid the rent to claim his or her eviction was simply the landlord’s way of retaliating because of rent withheld when the landlord didn’t make needed repairs to a unit.

AB 969 would have placed blame squarely with landlords, assuming a tenant’s withholding of the rent was automatically justified.

Moreover, the bill would have encouraged trials by jury, which take much longer than trials by a judge, and would have extended the eviction process, allowing tenants to live rent-free for months.

The California Apartment Association’s government affairs and legal teams fought to stop AB 969. Credit goes to the law firm of Kimball, Tirey & St John and its attorney, Puneet Singh, who testified Tuesday about the burden AB 969 would have placed on rental property owners.

Singh pointed to protections for tenants and landlords already on the books, and demonstrated that this bill was not necessary.

“Existing California statutes contain detailed remedies and defenses for residential tenants who withhold rent due to uninhabitability of their homes,” Singh testified.

She also attacked wording in AB 969 that implies landlords are to blame whenever a tenant fights an eviction by claiming he or she withheld rent because the landlord failed to make needed repairs.

“To add the proposed language to CC 1942.5 would result in a presumption that if the tenant claims the premises are uninhabitable, they are,” she said. “It would presume that if a tenant claimed rent was used to repair and deduct appropriate, it was.”




  • Either Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has never had to deal with a non-paying tenant or he’s a complete retard. Tenants almost always lie and will try anything to not pay rent. One of my experiences include tenants dumping their own garbage on the floor, letting it rot, breaking the 1 month old thermostat, then calling the County to complain, claiming they have no heat, (true, but they intentionally broke the thermostat) and that I put the mess in their living room. These idiots from the County fine me for not cleaning up the mess that the tenant clearly created. (I did replace the thermostat again.)
    Then there are the tenants that don’t pay rent, and intentionally delay responding to eviction notices and delay court dates so I don’t receive any rent money for 6 months, not to mention my court costs.
    My places are always clean and usually have fresh paint, but they are not newly remodeled. There seems to be an attitude that people feel they deserve more than they can afford and live beyond their means. I intentionally live below my means and see nothing wrong with doing so.
    The problem isn’t just the dirt bag tenants, it’s idiots like Assemblyman Tom Ammiano who pass laws making it easier for dirt bags to suck off the system.
    Even when I rent to professionals, for some reason they seem to think they don’t have to clean and it’s normal to leave the place in a mess and still they expect their deposit back. (Wrong). Believe me I would like nothing better than to have a tenant leave the place clean and give them their deposit back. (It does happen sometimes, I always make sure everybody knows what to expect upfront).

    As far as bills like AB969 are concerned, if our politicians want to improve the system they need to take into consideration how tenants take advantage of the system and put into effect rules to prevent them from doing so, not just laws to penalize responsible property owners.

  • Correction! Tenants do not take advantage of the system they take advantage of landlords because the system allows that. We have to fight this. I’m new in this and what I am going through is unbelievable un heard off. Mistake to buy in San Francisco

  • mr. Ammiano needs to trade places with a property owner and landlord for one year. then let him think about trying to get his bill pushed through again. when are politicians going to realize that ‘while the landlords are trying to make a living, they are passing bills left and right that tie our hands and make the red tape even longer.’ we are so fed up with their ability to simply grab and idea and make a name for themselves at our constant expense. jury trials!!!??? ARE YOU ‘KIDDING’ again, ‘at whose expense’?? i guess our court systems are not backed up enough with FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS!!! POLITICIANS NEED REAL JOBS.

  • Congratulations to CAA for preventing changes in the wording of the statutes that would have made it all but impossible for “wobbler” tenants to secure living accommodations. Since I regularly enforce civil judgments (including a fair amount of unlawful detainers), I can tell you with some certainty that tenants who attempt to continue to stay in accommodations for which they do not pay, fall into two distinct categories: (a) well-meaning folks who fall on hard times, such as the loss of a job and the income that goes with it; and (b) career civil tortfeasors, who lie in every imaginable way possible in order to secure such accommodations and then quickly stop making monthly payments. Regrettably, the system treats both the same way. There should be a ‘test’ to determine whether tenants can even ‘reach’ the question of habitability as a defense. If a person has been evicted through the unlawful detainer process more than one time in the past 24 months, then they should be required to pay their rent current before they can bring a habitability claim or deduct rent to make alleged repairs. Landlords should take videos of the rental unit BEFORE renting it to the tenant. The renter should hold a copy of then ‘today’s’ newspaper for the video. This would help substantiate the condition of the unit on the date it was rented to the tenant. Also, the Rental Housing Owner’s Association (RHOA) in most Calif. counties, maintains a list of all persons who have been evicted by the unlawful detainer process. It’s worth the $395 annual membership just to get access to the list of scofflaws before renting. (I think it’s about $20 per search — a good investment, I think) Once again, congratulations to CAA for a job well done!

  • It is obvious that the person responsible for trying to get this bill passed has never been a landlord or property manager and has never had the misfortune to be involved in an eviction. These tenants know how to work the system and stay in the properties until the last minute. To even try to pass something so they can stay in a property longer and fight the inevitable is ludicrous. When is the law going to wake up and give some credit to property owners and property managers?

  • With the courts bogged down now from lack of funds, This could clog them up some more and the non paying Tenant can skate free for a year. And good luck trying to collect your judgement.

  • As An Apartment manager for 29 yrs. and most of it being in one place for a private owner, I can say with all honesty, that the law on evictions is already pro tenant and ridiculous. I have seen what people do and I agree, there are good people that fall upon hard times, but those people I have usually been able to talk to and keep an eviction off their record. The others that claim that the apartments are uninhabitable more than once should be investigated. I quickly fix things and make sure no matter if rent is paid or not, Im not giving anyone a chance to say the place I manage is not properly taken care of. I have heard of management companies that don’t do that and that is why I am so proud to work for an owner that cares. In my 29yrs. of management I have never been accused of anything, all it takes is a bit of communication and good management skills to keep things from getting to an eviction. In 29yrs. I may have actually had to evict 10 times, all the rest, I was able to communicate and keep it from going there. I am happy that law did not pass, as it gives the bad renters power that they will abuse.

  • Tom really needs to be replaced. He is living in another world, doesn’t know the reality of this world, but wants to make a bill in this world.

    He doesn’t know how many tenants use this as excuse for not paying. If there is really problem with the house, why the tenants don’t move to other places, but stick there, and don’t want to be evicted and also not paying. Is this a fair business, Tom?

  • We just evicted roommates in the City. Lost $15k between court and the fact they could stay rent free for 6 months. They were evicted because they paid their rent late 5 times, had a dog, subleased, police were called for nuisances and fights, smoked, and after a formal complaint from other tenants, I was left no choice but to evict. They said they werent going to leave, and they didnt. Even with the issues they created, they were still able to stay in the aparment, rent free, for 6 months. They claimed racial discrimination. Really?? (We’re the same race, idiots!) Obviously, we can’t drag them out by their feet! They system is so unfair. And any law that trys to get passed…there is always 1 landlord, to every 5 tenants. Voting is also unfair when there is more people than the law favors. Buying income property in the City, has just become a very bad idea. We buy property as an investment, not to get screwed or house the homeless. I agree, Tom should look into this further before he makes a decision on something he knows nothing about.

  • To think I almost rented to Ammiano back when he had just got his job at Sonoma State…………

    Sometimes you get lucky.

    Good Job!! CAA

  • Well done Counsellor Singh of Kimball, Tiray& St. John AND CAA! Your efforts are protecting our free enterprise system in the state and nation. It is our collective duty to stop the tyranny. Good wake up call for all of us! One brick at a time.