Rental housing advertisements would be required to fully disclose optional fees for services along with rental prices under a bill that recently resurfaced in the state Legislature. 

After stalling amid opposition from the California Apartment Association in 2023, SB 611 by Sen. Caroline Menjivar, D-Van Nuys, has returned for a final push in the second half of the two-year session. 

While CAA worked diligently to find acceptable amendments last year, this year’s version does not consider any of the acceptable amendments from 2023. CAA argues that this new amended version is more burdensome than the previous version. One concern among many is the requirement for rental property owners to list optional fees and utility costs that may fluctuate based on tenant usage or preferences.  

Sen. Caroline Menjivar

In a letter to Menjivar last week, the association cited the bill’s extensive scope and its complex, subjective terms and requirements.  

“This bill is a gross overreach,” Debra Carlton, CAA’s executive vice president of state public affairs, writes, and it “will place rental property owners – and certainly small property owners – in jeopardy of facing considerable penalties, despite their attempts to follow the requirements in SB 611.” 

If passed and signed into law, SB 611 would require that: 

  • Landlords or their agents include all mandatory fees, deposits, and charges in the advertised rental price, including charges for utilities, trash, water, and other mandatory services. 
  • Optional services and amenities fees be clearly disclosed in all advertisements. 
  • Tenants be allowed to use violations of these provisions as a defense in unlawful detainer actions. 
  • Landlords who fail to comply with these requirements face extensive financial penalties. 
  • Landlords disclose the maximum monthly cost paid by previous tenants for utilities, with no consideration for the number of tenants who occupied the unit previously. 
  • Landlords provide prospective tenants with copies of the two most recent utility bills and a detailed statement on how utility costs are allocated. 
  • During the tenancy, landlords be prohibited from altering the method or formula used to allocate utility costs and from increasing the tenants’ costs for those services. 

CAA argues that including fees that vary based on tenant behavior or usage complicates the practicality of rental advertisements and does not accurately represent fixed rental costs.  

Carlton further states, “SB 611 is not just about advertisements; it is a veiled attempt to cap fees, limit fees, and limit services for which rental property owners can charge.”