Thanks to the California Apartment Association’s Legal Fund, the association has been able to engage in several court cases this year with significant implications for the rental housing industry.

With your tax-deductible contribution, CAA’s Legal Fund can continue to advance the association’s mission and legal objectives, providing legal resources and/or financial support in cases that affect the business success of CAA members.

Two of this year’s most important cases — both in the East Bay — are still working their way through the courts. Read on for summaries of these cases and links for more information.

Alameda eviction moratorium

CAA is awaiting a ruling from Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler regarding the association’s motion for summary judgment on the facial claims asserted in its lawsuit against the Alameda County eviction moratorium and a companion case that also challenges the Oakland moratorium.

In September, Beeler heard oral arguments in the motion, marking the first time the court had been able to consider whether the county’s moratorium passes constitutional muster. CAA’s motion argued that the county’s continued eviction moratorium effects a physical taking of rental housing owners’ property in violation of the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution, substantially impairs rental property owners’ contracts with tenants in violation of the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and that the moratorium violates the Ellis Act, California’s law enshrining the right of landlords to terminate a tenancy to leave the rental housing business.

Berkeley’s attack on Costa-Hawkins

In September, CAA and the San Francisco Apartment Association filed a joint amicus brief in a case challenging Berkeley’s determination that several properties are subject to the city’s rent control program.

Berkeley asserts that the properties qualify for local rent control despite having been issued new certificates of occupancy after a substantial renovation that turn dilapidated, uninhabitable rooming houses into modern triplexes.

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which lawmakers passed in 1995, shields properties with certificates of occupancy issued after Feb. 1, 1995, from local rent control.

To sidestep Costa-Hawkins’ protections, Berkeley has interpreted this exemption to apply only to new construction – a term it defines using an unwieldy multi-factor standard, with the city itself being the arbiter of whether the work at issue is substantial enough to qualify.

The Court of Appeal has not yet set a date for oral argument in the case. CAA will continue to monitor the case and report significant developments.