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California anti-eviction bill back from the dead in Sacramento

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David Chiu combines two bills in winner-take-all strategy

A low-angle photo of David Chiu, dressed in a suit and smiling.
David Chiu (here seen in 2011 as head of the SF Board of Supervisors) is putting multiple renter protections in one basket.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One of the bills offering new protections for California renters that survived to fight another day in May just got stronger.

AB 1482, which caps annual rent increases at seven percent plus inflation, passed just before a key deadline earlier this year. Its companion bill, AB 1481, which would have barred baseless evictions, faltered and disappeared without a vote.

Now Assemblymember David Chiu, author of AB 1482, is essentially combining the two with newly amended bill text:

This bill would, with certain exceptions, prohibit an owner of residential property from terminating the lease of a tenant that has occupied the property for at least 12 months without just cause, as defined.

The bill would require, for certain just cause terminations that are curable, that the owner give a notice of violation and an opportunity to cure the violation prior to issuing the notice of termination. The bill would require, for no-fault just cause terminations, as specified, that the owner assist certain tenants to relocate, regardless of the tenant’s income, by providing a direct payment of one month’s rent to the tenant, as specified. [...] The bill would repeal these provisions as of January 1, 2023.

In this case, a “just cause” means failure to pay rent, “substantial breach of a material term of the rental agreement, [...] refusal, by the tenant to sign a new lease that is identical to the previous lease, after the previous lease expired,” illegal conduct, damage to the unit, and similar complaints.

The 2023 sunset date was added to AB 1482 in May to sway hesitant lawmakers into voting for it.

The eviction-related language is identical Assemblymember Rob Bonta and Alan Grayson’s AB 1481, which died in the Assembly in May because it did not get a final floor vote before the deadline.

AB 1482 passed the Assembly earlier this year on a vote of 43-41. If it passes various Senate votes, it will return to the Assembly for final approval. All legislation faces a September deadline to reach the governor’s desk.

Whether or not lawmakers will back the two-in-one measure remains to be seen.

Chiu argued that the two types of renter protections work “hand in hand” and that “just cause protections and a limit on large rent increases must work together if they are to work at all.”

In response, the California Rental Housing Association, a lobbying group for landlords that supports neither measure, released a statement this week calling the combined bill “a step backwards.”

The group further alleges that new renter protections will discourage apartment development.