143 Bills

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So why is the number 143 an important number? Because that is the number of landlord and tenant bills that were considered by the Legislature this year affecting our business. Unlawful detainers, changes to Proposition 13, Ellis Act evictions, water conservation mandates, homeless rights to occupy privately owned property, new lien rights against employers’ properties are just some examples of the bills we faced this year.

And why is the number 3 an important number? This is the number of state regulations that were proposed this year by the Brown Administration pertaining to land lord and tenant matters: substantial changes to Proposition 65; use of rodenticides; and pool safety standards that were so comprehensive it would have made it nearly impossible to allow resi dents to use the pool without violating the law.

Let’s take a look at two identical bills that were signed into law affecting landlords in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

AB 2310 (Ridley-Thomas and Dickenson) and AB 2485 (Dickenson and Ridley-Thomas) re-establish a pilot program which sunsetted last year, for continuation of the controlled substances-related eviction program. The pilot program allows the city attorney and prosecutors in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Oakland to bring eviction proceedings against tenants for committing a violation of law involving unlawful drugs or controlled substances. The bills became law on the day the Governor signed them, September 15, 2014.

City attorneys and prosecutors will once again be able to assist landlords who are intimidated from bringing eviction proceedings against tenants engaged in drug related crimes and illegal possession of weapons or ammunition. Participating cities, like Long Beach, have had tremendous success prosecuting evictions against persons possessing control led substances and illegal weapons. The law in this area is an important component of cities’ efforts to improve neighborhood safety.

Many cities have found this program helpful in making their neighborhoods safer, and this program was renewed for an additional four years. In other words, the terms of the bills will continue to be enforceable until January 1, 2019.

This special statutory authority to authorize city attorneys and prosecutors, rather than the property owner, to initiate eviction proceedings against offending tenants for committing nuisance violations involving controlled substances or illegal gun or ammunition use or sale is unique and unusual because traditionally only the landlord has the authority to file an unlawful detainer against a tenant for recovery of possession of the property.

Under the pilot programs a city attorney or city prosecutor that files an unlawful detainer action against a qualified person is predicated on the belief that a specified controlled substance offense has occurred on the property based upon an arrest report or other law enforcement report, not just a conviction of a qualified crime.

Under the program, the public prosecutor must first give a 30-calendar day written notice documenting the specific alleged nuisance or illegal activity to the landlord and to the offending tenant. The notice is designed to give the landlord the first opportunity to file the UD action against the offending tenants. The landlord may then either file the action or assign the right to bring the UD to the public prosecutor. If the landlord fails to file the UD action or fails to prosecute such an action diligently and in good faith, the city attorney or city prosecutor may file the action and may join both the landlord and the offending tenant as co-defendants.

The one amendment made to the bill at our request provides that a property owner shall only be required to pay the costs of investigation, discovery, and reasonable attorney’s fees upon acceptance of assignment and filing of the UD action by the city prosecutor or attorney. The amendment assures that the fee a city may charge the landlord to handle the UD proceeding will only be levied if the city follows through by filing the UD action.

The bills also require a court hearing on an unlawful detainer action under the pilot program to enter a specified order depending on whether grounds for the eviction or partial eviction have been established. As such, the court will have discretion to: dismiss the action, order immediate eviction or partial eviction or stay the execution of the eviction order for a reasonable period of time if the tenant can show that immediate eviction would pose extreme hardship that outweighs the benefit to the community.

Our landlords have reported that the previous pilot program was so successful that tenants would “re-locate” to another property rather than face an eviction action brought about by the city attorney or city prosecutor following the initial notice to the tenant that the city will file the UD should the tenant remain in the property. Thus, landlords would be able to “re-position” the property much faster if the city handled the notice to the tenants.

Ron Kingston can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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