31 March 2009
In addition to our legislative successes, we were recognized by a number of key and influential legislators, legislative staff, and key interest groups as a leader in the policy debates. In large part this is due to the depth of our legal and political analysis as well as our lobbying efforts. We also were recognized within the industry as a significant and powerful force. Last year we lead the debate, discussion and content on "Tier One" bills for the industry. For example:
• We obtained an important amendment that struck a provision in a Senate bill that would have mandated that every landlord retrofit all of his or her rental properties with separate water meters. The amendment saved landlords that own properties that have master water meters untold thousands of dollars.
• In another bill, we were one of two regional apartment associations that are credited with stopping a bill that would have given smokers and non-smokers new legal remedies to sue landlords. That bill would have also resulted in landlords losing their ability to establish reasonable conduct and safety rules.
• We were one of two regional apartment associations that gutted a bill that would have allowed local governments a right to seize rental property if there was any criminal activity on or near the property. This year is the beginning of a two-year session.
Here is a partial list of bills that have been introduced to date:
• We will sponsor a bill that will ask the Department of Justice (state Attorney General) to make available to the public a consumer-oriented booklet in a question and answer format that is to educate and inform consumers about Megan’s Law offenders as it relates to the lease and rental of property. If the booklet is delivered to a prospective tenant or tenant by the owner or agent of, the owner would be provided a liability shield for that information. The sole intent is to provide important information to the parties and to mitigate misinformation about this very emotional and important issue.
• The Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP), the preeminent tenants’ association in the state, will sponsor two landlord and tenant bills this year. The first bill will seek to permanently require a 60-day notice to terminate a residential tenancy in non-rent controlled communities for tenancies of one-year or more. Existing law that requires a 60-day notice is to "sunset" the end of this year. WCLP will seek to re-introduce a bill of last year that attempts to provide additional foreclosure relief for tenants. The sponsors have promised us that the language we worked out last year will not be changed which includes that squatters will not be provided any right to tenancy.
• AB 49 (Feuer) was introduced to address the on-going water crisis. As introduced the bill would require a mandatory 20 percent water reduction in urban areas by December 31, 2020. Most of the terms of the bill still need to be written, however there are serious concerns that we have expressed to the author’s office about the bill. Landlords that have already modified water usage would be subject to the same rules as wasteful water users. For landlords that have master water meters, they could experience significant heartburn because of an inability to regulate water usage by the residents. The list of issues will be discussed at future AACSC meetings.
• Reintroduction of last year’s SB 1386, a bill that will require all residential property owners to install carbon monoxide detectors on a specified schedule. Important to this discussion is to assure, like last year’s bill, that there will be an adequate stock of approved units; that landlords are given sufficient time to install the devices; that landlords would not be responsible to check the devices once a tenant occupies the unit unless a problem is reported to the landlord, and that landlords would not be liable for improper use or modifications made by tenants.
• We should expect a number of bills on the mortgage foreclosure crisis affecting landlords and tenants.
• Assembly Member Tony Mendoza is to author a major piece of housing legislation that would require a "permanent source of funding" for lowincome housing. The tax, fee, or financing of the program will affect our business practices and bottom lines. In addition, the state housing programs will be of importance to us.
• Another bill that will be introduced this year will propose to force new owners to correct all building code violations that were in existence prior to ownership. Failure to correct those violations will permit a local government to seek civil fines of up to $25,000 per code violation.
Within the next 45 days, thousands of bills will be introduced in the state legislature and we expect we will continue to maintain and more fully develop our leadership role on issues important to our membership.
Ron may be reached at:
or you can call him at (916) 447-7229.