Lawmakers Announce Bills to Protect California Tenants from Eviction

Thursday, February 15, 2018
Measures will make it harder to evict tenants and give added notice and legal remedies for tenants served with evictions

SACRAMENTO - Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) today announced new proposals to protect California tenants from evictions and extend the timelines for tenants who do face evictions.  

These bills come after an intense legislative debate about repealing the Costa Hawkins Act, which limits rent control in California.  Though the legislative effort did not advance, the discussion brought the plight of tenants in California to the forefront of the ongoing effort to address the state’s housing affordability crisis.  

“We not only have a housing crisis, we have a tenant crisis,” said Assemblymember Chiu.  “Tenants in California are facing unprecedented hardships and constantly living under the threat of eviction. Helping tenants stay in their homes in the first place is essential to reducing displacement and homelessness.”

Assemblymember Bonta plans to introduce a bill this week to enact "just cause" provisions for evictions statewide.  A handful of cities throughout California have existing “just cause” ordinances that require landlords to show a specific and valid reason outlined in statute in order to evict a tenant.  

"More and more Californians are being unjustly evicted from their homes," said Assemblymember Bonta. "As California continues to endure this housing crisis, statewide Just Cause legislation is another necessary ingredient to protect tenants and keep a safe roof over their heads. The history, culture, and character of our communities suffer when residents are forced to move from home to home. A statewide Just Cause law will ensure landlords are only evicting tenants for fair reasons. We must fight to protect our neighbors and to preserve the integrity of our communities."

AB 2364, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, will close a loophole in the state’s Ellis Act that allows landlords to evict all of their tenants while still remaining in the rental business.  The Ellis Act was written with the intention of giving landlords the ability to evict their tenants in order to withdraw from the rental market.  Advocates from around the state are seeing instances of landlords evicting all tenants in a property and then returning those units in a piecemeal fashion to rental market, skirting the original purpose of the law.  AB 2364 will close that loophole.  

This bill will also extend the time frame of an Ellis Act eviction to one year for all tenants without regard to age or disability.  Current law gives seniors and people with disabilities one year notice and gives 120 days notice for all others.

“Despite the historic gains made last year to build more affordable housing, we must keep our foot firmly on the pedal of progress,” said Assemblymember Bloom.  “Building more housing is important, but families, seniors, disabled people, and young working adults need immediate help now.  We should not be pushing them out of their homes, their communities, because of legal loopholes.  This is contrary to the spirit of the Ellis Act when it was passed more than 30 years ago.  AB 2364 restores that spirit.”

Assemblymember Chiu’s bill, AB 2343, will give tenants more time to respond to eviction proceedings and correct several imbalances in the tenant notice and eviction process.  It also will extend the time tenants have to pay rent or comply with other terms of a lease, increase the time tenants have to respond to an eviction lawsuit, and make it easier to defend against eviction cases with legitimate defenses.  Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) is a coauthor of this bill.

“This bill would make common-sense changes to eviction procedures to ensure tenants’ due process rights are respected, landlords are able to resolve issues without the cost and delay of a court case, and to make the eviction process more efficient for all parties,” said Alexander “Sasha” Harnden, policy advocate with the Western Center on Law & Poverty, a co-sponsor of AB 2343.

“Everyday, renters in California are feeling the heat from California’s affordable housing crisis as rents continue to go up and up.  We need to make sure these hardworking families can keep a roof over their heads, and these bills help to do that by protecting renters from abusive practices and ensuring fairness for all,” said Brian Augusta, legislative advocate for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, a co-sponsor of AB 2343.

Assemblymember David Chiu (D–San Francisco) is the Chair of the Housing & Community Development Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses eastern San Francisco.