A bill working its way through the Legislature threatens to undo improvements negotiated by the California Apartment Association to make the state’s rent cap and “just cause” for eviction law more palatable for property owners.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks

The legislation, AB 2713 by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, would introduce several hurdles for landlords to clear before conducting certain types of tenancy terminations allowed under the Tenant Protection Act of 2019.

The Tenant Protection Act, passed as AB 1482, generally applies to multifamily housing after it turns 15 years old. The legislation caps annual rent increases to 5% plus the change in CPI, or 10%, whichever is lower, and requires a just cause for evictions. More stringent local rent control and just-cause laws still apply.

In 2019, the California Apartment Association ensured that AB 1482’s just cause provisions would permit evictions when the owner wants to move themselves or family members into a unit, perform substantial renovations or go out of business altogether. Wick’s bill would complicate and create limits on these types of just-cause evictions.

Intent to occupy: Under AB 2713, terminating a tenancy based on an owner’s intention to move themselves or family members into the unit would no longer be enough. Wick’s bill would additionally require that the move-in occur within 90 days of terminating the tenancy and that the owner or family stay in the unit for at least three years. An owner who fails to meet these thresholds would have to offer the unit back to the tenant at his or her old rent level.

Wicks’ bill also would ban evictions for owner or family move-ins when the owner or relative already lives at the property or if there’s a vacant unit at the property.

All or nothing: Also under AB 2713, owners would lose the ability to take only part of a property off the rental market. Owners who empty one unit at a property would have to empty them all. The bill also would add a 180-day notice period to tenants before the units are removed.

Permits for remodels: Owners needing to terminate tenancies for remodels or demolition work would have to obtain permits first under AB 2713.

Lease provisions: Also under AB 2713, a “rent” increase that is more than 5% plus CPI would be unenforceable if that added amount comes results from the owner transferring to the tenant a service or amenity previously provided or paid for by the landlord.