Bills in 2005 Legistlative Session


A myriad of bills regarding landlord/tenant issues have hit the docket for this 2005 legislative session. In this article we will first outline only the Tier I issues to be addressed – these are the highest priority bills for our consideration.

Our new lobbying firm Norwood & Mattock will be working hand-in-hand with the landlord’s rights coalition in Sacramento to preserve our property rights. You will – during the course of this session – be asked to assist us the red alerts from time to time. By joining together, we can protect our industry – that’s what an association is all about!

Oppose: SB 51 (Kuehl) Current law requires a 60-day notice to terminate a residential tenancy if the tenant has resided in the dwelling for more than one year. The 60-day notice provision sunsets on January 1, 2006. The bill would delete the sunset. The Senate Judiciary approved the measure on a party line vote. The author claims, amongst other things: low income tenants have a difficult time to locate replacement units and certain working class cities like Long Beach have a severe shortage of rental housing and rents are continuing to rise. She nor the proponents believe good tenants are adversely affected by the bill.

Oppose: AB 1400 (Laird, and most of the members of the progressive caucus) The Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits landlords (and other businesses) from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition. The bill would further prohibit discrimination on the basis of familial status, marital status, or sexual orientation, thereby mirroring the provisions of California Fair Housing and Discrimination Act.

However, it would also state that the identification of particular bases of discrimination is ILLUSTRATIVE rather than restrictive. The result for landlords would be chaotic. Would felons, registered sex offenders, persons on limited income assert discriminatory actions? Would minimum income qualification requirements be subject to challenge? Would landlords be required to rent to Section 8 tenants?

Oppose unless amended: Methamphetamine Properties. Two bills have been introduced on this subject matter that is of great concern to the real estate community. The most important measure is AB 1078 (Keene). It is a comprehensive bill that would create a methamphetamine cleanup act. CAR has written over two hundred amendments and is working with the apartment industry and title company interests. Amendments include: assuring remediation, inspection and eviction are uniform state standards and are not left to the locals for interpretation or different requirements; properties can only be cited if they ACTUALLY contain specified hazardous chemicals; properties will not be permanently stigmatized by recording a notice of contamination on the property; requiring locals to immediately inspect and determine if the property is contaminated; locals must evict the occupants as opposed to landlords seeking the eviction; etc.

The other bill is SB 566 (Bowen) which would simply require the state to develop remediation standards (this is also addressed in the Keene bill).

Oppose: AB 781 (Leno) would amend the Ellis Act, a 20-year old law that permits landlords to legitimately go out of business (the law is used in all rent control and just cause communities). The bill would prohibit landlords from going out of business for the first five years of ownership.
On March 15th the Assembly member proposed the following: gut the bill and in its stead, absolutely permit a condominium conversion, provide for a right of first refusal to existing tenants, tenants that did not purchase their unit to be given a life tenancy, cities could not impose new zoning code requirements such as changing the parking space minimums nor could locals require building code upgrades etc.

The significant point is that remaining tenants would be given a life tenancy and property owners could not occupy their properties where the original tenant remains in the property. The bill would be heard in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee in several weeks.
Oppose unless amended: AB 399 (Montenez) Recycling in Multifamily Units. Amongst other things the bill would:

1) require the CA Integrated Waste Management Board to develop a model ordinance for recycling:
2) require cities and counties to provide information of recycling to owners of multifamily dwellings when the city or county issues a building permit;
3) require owners to notice existing tenants and new tenants about methods of recycling;
4) MOST IMPORTANTLY, require owners to arrange for recycling if they pull a “new permit” (this term is not defined) and
5) REQUIRE recyclers to meet with owners once a year to discuss solid waste reduction.

Oppose unless amended: AB 769 (Horton) As introduced it will require slumlords to attend a class how not to be a slumlord. The class may only be approved by the Dept. of Real Estate. In conversations with the sponsors they are will to have the classes approved by cities and counties. The author will propose the bill to be amended to require that all rental agreements contain the actual wording from several pertinent statutes about landlord and tenant law. This may include: security deposit law, retaliatory eviction, right to enter property, notices to tenants, anti harassment etc.
Watch: Megan’s Law. There are approximately 13 bills that have been introduced this year on this subject. Of great interest: AB 438 (Parra) will be amended to address: changing the disclosure notice to include the internet web site of the Attorney General; in some fashion or another rights of landlords to refuse tenancy to sex offenders, etc. AB 1323 (Vargas) is a comprehensive measure that would make changes to the disclosure notice in real estate sales and rental contracts, change the definition of the crime, require persons to pay a fee that make a public inquiry (this will be very controversial for business and public interest groups). Another bill, SB 43 (Battin) would add persons who have been convicted of spousal rape accomplished by use of force of violence to the list of violent sex offenders.

Watch: AB 1574 (Jones) Housing Discrimination. The bill is intended to be used to permit locals from adopting and enforcing the federal Fair Housing Act. Non uniform interpretation could result.
Oppose unless amended: SB 735 (Torlakson) This is another Western Center on Law and Poverty sponsored bill. It proposes to amend existing law concerning tenant organizers to state that if a landlord prevents or attempts to prevent an entry on to the property by a tenant organizer that has been invited by a tenant that he or she shall be liable for actual and punitive damages. It does not address: what if the organizer disturbs the quiet enjoyment of the property, how many times may an organizer be on the property per day per week per hours, organizers do not have to follow the rules of landlords.

The second provision of the bill is the worst: it provides that not later than five days after a change in ownership (not defined) that the owner shall notify all tenants of that fact and shall provide a copy of the deed to the statement to tenants that a change in ownership has occurred. This is not only impossible to meet, but is ludicrous on its face. Additionally, if there is a change in management, that the landlord must execute a notarized certificate of agency and must notice all tenants of the change in management and attach a copy of the notarized certificate to the written statement. Is there a problem that tenants are not being apprised of a change in ownership or management? Is this widespread?

Oppose: AB 304 (Hancock) Building Standards. This bill would permit all cities and counties to order reconstruction standards to all buildings that have existing wood-frame buildings where the ground floor portion of the structure has parking or other “similar open floor space that causes soft, weak or open-front wall lines”. The theory of the bill is to protect the buildings from falling down. This type of construction is particularly popular in older style and small unit buildings, possibly affecting the 8 to 10 unit buildings in Long Beach. Major engineering and reconstruction would result. In rent control communities, landlords may not be able to pass through the costs of construction.

Governor Throws Down The Gauntlet


You may not believe in global warning theories, but, believe this: There will be no winter
in Sacramento this year. It is hot, hot, hot!

Governor Schwarzenegger has thrown down the gauntlet. He plans to balance the budget
by "starving the monster;" the state's bloated bureaucracy, that is. He has taken on the
unions that represent public employees, teachers, and others that he calls special interest
groups. He called the Attorney General, the Treasurer, and the State Superintendent of
Public Instruction the "Three Stooges" for their biting attacks on his budget plans. And,
he has made it loud and clear that if the Legislature does not go along with his plans, he
will take the fight directly to the voters.

The one thing that everyone agrees upon is that California is in a financial crisis and that
strong action is necessary to fix our many woes. However, there is little agreement on
solutions. Some Democrats look to new tax increases on the "rich." To that, the
Governor says, no, no, no! Taxing the private sector, he says, will discourage the
investment that is needed to bring jobs and new revenues to the state. The Governor's
vision is to control spending and attract new money by promoting a pro-business agenda.

So nasty has it become, that in recent news articles, several liberal legislators have said
that the Governor does not keep his word and that they will not be able to trust him in
negotiations. The Governor responded that his commitment is to the people of
California, not a few special interest groups that want to maintain the status quo of
spending more money than the state takes in.

Some pundits think the state is headed for tough times and counsel both sides to tone
down the rhetoric. Others say this is just what we need. Bring on the fight. Hold no
punches. It is time to get to the root of our problems and if we need to have a war lets
have it and get it over with.

For political junkies, this is great sport. However, the question that truly emerges is how
the Democratic controlled Legislature and the Republican Governor will work together
on any major issues in this climate. We will watch and report.

Sixty-Day Notices
As I reported last month, we were confident that the tenant lobby would introduce
legislation to make the 60-day notice for termination of tenancy a permanent fixture in
California. State Senator Sheila Kuehl did not let us down. On January 10, she
introduced SB 51. The bill is sponsored by The Western Center for Law and Poverty.

When the 60-day notice was introduced on trial basis a few years ago, the tenant lobby
argued that in the heated markets of Northern California, 30 days notice did not give
tenants adequate time to find replacement housing. Since that time, those markets have
melted down. In fact, many owners who responded to my last report stated that they are
not evicting tenants. To the contrary, under threat that they would move out, tenants are
taking advantage of the high vacancy rates and increased competition by demanding and
getting rent reductions. The point here is that the extended notice was created to deal
with market conditions that no longer exist. So, why extend the life of the law?

One interesting feature of SB 51 is that while owners would be required to give tenants a
60-day notice, tenants would only be required to give a 30-day notice. How is that fair?

We will oppose SB 51.

Revisions to the Ellis Act

In cities that have rent and eviction controls, owners find themselves in the double
whammy of being prevented from adjusting rents to market and being forced to continue
renting to tenants as long as they choose to remain. Some relief was provided when the
Legislature passed the Ellis Act and granted owners the right to evict all of the tenants in
a building if they wanted to get out of the rental business.

In recent years, a growing number of renters have approached owners about selling their
small buildings to them for Tenant in Common ownership or potential conversion to
Condominiums. The buyers purchase the buildings and then use the Ellis Act to evict the

With the rising cost of single-family homes, the Ellis option has become increasingly
attractive to owners who no longer wish to do business in an excessive regulatory climate
and to moderate-income people who want to own their own homes. The tenant lobby
sees it otherwise.

The proposed legislation would prevent Ellis Act evictions unless the owner has owned
the property for at least five years. Therefore, a group of moderate income people,
usually renters, who want to purchase a small building for their occupancy would not be
able to evict the tenants for five years from the purchase date. The effect of this would be
to bring the process of acquiring small properties for ownership occupancy to a halt.

It should be noted that the Ellis Act has strong protections for tenants. They get
expanded notice, relocation benefits, and there are strong sanctions against owners who
evict and then try to re-rent. Disabled and elderly tenants have even greater rights.

We will have to wait to see the actual bill; as of this writing it has not been introduced.
But one question that we already have is this: What public policy position makes it a
better idea to give tenants the right to live in rent-restricted apartments forever, than to
allow tenants to purchase and occupy their own homes?

Homeownership has historically been viewed as a good thing. Here in California, we
seem to have gotten this all twisted.

We will report on more tenant bills next month.

Greg McConnell is a rental housing consultant and legislative advocate. He represents and advises apartment associations, property management companies, and individual owners throughout California.
For more information please visit
( This article is copyrighted and cannot be republished without the consent of the author.)

Debunking the Myths about Multifamily Housing


The other day I attended a meeting with Sunne McPeak, California's Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing. The meeting was packed with virtually every stakeholder on housing development including leading housing advocates, builders, developers, bankers, insurers and other interested parties.

Many in the audience wanted to make the case for more homeownership. However, my purpose for attending was to promote more multifamily rental housing. As I readied myself for the meeting, I looked at various studies that have been made to show the desperate need for quality rental housing.

Here are a few examples of the arguments that I prepared:

Workforce Housing - Teachers, police, firefighters, librarians, nurses, and other community resource people must be able to live in the communities they serve. We can talk about these people buying homes all day long, but the reality is that they are priced out of the single-family home market in most of California's desirable areas. If we don't build quality rental housing that these people can afford, they will opt to work in other locals where they can find housing.

Economic Development - Surveys around the nation point to unaffordable housing as the number one impediment to getting businesses to relocate. This is especially true in California where more and more businesses are considering relocating out of the state because their employees do not have enough gold to live in the golden state.

Gridlock - The reason it takes two hours to make a 30-mile drive is because too many people are commuting long distances to get to work. When I drive from Hercules to Berkeley, a short fifteen-mile drive, I am not competing with local residents for highway space. Increasingly, the cars on the road come from distant locations like Fairfield, Vacaville, Sacramento and points east. Oakland's Interstate 580 drivers compete with riders from Tracey, Stockton and Modesto. The situation in Southern California is worse.

The list of good reasons for more multifamily development goes on and on. By now only the most information resistant people don't know that we have a housing crisis and that we are millions of housing units short.

Armed with these arguments, I was confident that I could persuade people to do the obvious and agree to make development of multi-family housing a priority. Who could resist?

That is when the truth unfolded. Opposition to multifamily development is rampant. Visceral anti-apartmentism is based upon biases and prejudices that are completely unwarranted. People hear of apartment construction and immediately think of crime, overcrowding, demands on social services, and most important, reduced property values.

Debunking the Myths

Even though housing development is a hot button issues in Sacramento this year and the focus of sweeping reforms for consideration by the legislature. The challenge continues to be how to get policy makers to agree that it is California's best interest to allow smart, responsible, multifamily development. One answer is to debunk the myths.

The National Multi Housing Council put out a very good report in 2002 that makes the case for multifamily development. In Creating Successful Communities: A New Housing Paradigm.1 NMHC goes right to the heart of the opposition and gets to the core of the bias and prejudice against multifamily housing. Here are ten myths that are debunked in the report.

Myth #1: The Dream of Homeownership Is Universal
Reality: Apartment Living is Gaining in Popularity, Particularly Among Higher-Income Households

Myth #2: Apartment Residents Do Not Pay For The Services They Use
Reality: Apartment Residents Pay Property Taxes Via Rent, And Often At A Higher Rate

Myth #3: Apartments Disproportionately Burden School Systems
Reality: Single-Family Owners Have Three Times as Many School Children

Myth #4: Apartments Bring Traffic Congestion
Reality: Apartment Residents Own Fewer Cars and Are More Likely to Use Public Transportation

Myth #5: Apartments Bring Down Property Values
Reality: Homes Near Apartments Maintain Their Values

Myth #6: Apartments Increase Crime Rates
Reality: Apartments Help Create Safe and Secure Neighborhoods

Myth #7: Homeowners Make Better Citizens
Reality: Homeownership is Not Required for Good Citizenship and Strong Neighborhoods

Myth #8: Apartments Increase Local Infrastructure Costs
Reality: Apartments Use Municipal Infrastructure More Efficiently

Myth #9: Americans Oppose Higher Density Development
Reality: Consumer Acceptance of Higher Density Development is Understated

Myth #10: Homeownership Should Be Our Top Housing Policy Priority
Reality: Apartments Are Uniquely Qualified to Address Many of Our Most Pressing Needs

Why Housing Providers Should Support More Housing

Some existing rental property owners may ask: "why should I support more development, doesn't that create competition for my properties?" Of course it does. But consider this, the policy makers who don't allow adequate development, use this as an excuse to develop regulatory policies to "protect tenants." Every rent and eviction control law is justified on the theory of a housing crisis spurred by an inadequate supply of affordable housing.

The only way to solve the problem is to create more housing. So, to those who rant against development as though they are protecting their interests, I offer the following options: maintain the status quo and increase regulatory intervention. Or, help develop sufficient housing and eliminate the need for regulation.

Greg McConnell heads The McConnell Group, a California Advocacy and Consulting firm. The McConnell Group represents and advises apartment associations, property management companies, and individual owners throughout California.
For more information please visit
( This article is copyrighted and cannot be republished without the consent of the author.)

The 60 Day Notice - One of 2005's Hot Issues


This year, John Burton of San Francisco introduced SB 1145 which sought to extend the life of several sections of law that were due to expire over the next two years. One major provision concerned the requirement to provide 60 day's notice for termination of tenancy. That law expires December 2005 and Mr. Burton wanted to make the provision permanent.

We were able to convince Senator Burton to remove the termination provision from the bill. Once that was done, we were neutral on the remaining portions of SB 1145 and it was passed and signed into law by the Governor.

Over the past several weeks, we have been investigating legislative plans for next year. We have discovered that Senator Sheila Kuehl (Santa Monica) plans to introduce legislation next year that would revisit this section of law and try to make the 60-day termination permanent before it expires in December 2005.

This comes as no surprise. There seems to be no end to attempts to regulate the relationship between owners and tenants, whether the regulation is necessary, counterproductive, or not.

History of the 60-Day Notice

A little history may help with understanding the 60-day notice debate. Sheila Kuehl first proposed the extended notice provision in 2000 in SB 985. Originally, she wanted a 90-day notice, but that was eventually whittled down to 60 days.

The sponsor of SB 985, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, argued that a very tight rental housing market made it very difficult, if not impossible, to find suitable replacement housing with only 30 days notice. As a result, WCLP claimed that many tenants were forced to pay higher rents than they could really afford. Others, they claimed, had to compromise their living standards, crowding into a smaller home or moving in with relatives. In the worst case, some families allegedly became homeless when they could not find affordable, replacement shelter after their funds were exhausted living in local motels.

WCLP argued that vacancy rates were at record lows, less than 1% in many parts of the state. In contrast, a 5% vacancy rate is considered normal. With the two fastest growing populations of homeless people in California being seniors and families with children, WCLP said that SB 985 was a necessary response to a very real and urgent problem.

We did not buy their arguments, but we were confronted with a volatile political climate. Back then, progressives were firmly in control of the key housing committees and strongly supportive of tenants. We had a Governor who we were convinced would sign aggressive regulatory legislation to appease the liberal wing of the legislature. Adding gasoline to this fiery mix, a Sacramento housing provider summarily terminated the tenancies of hundreds of Sacramento area tenants. With these major obstacles, we chose to "live to fight another day."

We successfully argued that the 60-day notice should be limited to a trial period of five years so we could determine the effect of the longer notice on housing and to allow the markets to adjust to see if the longer notice period would continue to be necessary. That was probably one of the smarter decisions we have made over the years.

We'll be Ready in 2005

When the 60-day notice is reintroduced in on the 2005 session, we will have considerably more ammunition than we had in the past. Certainly, the political climate is nowhere near as threatening as it was previously. In the legislature, we have witnessed the emergence of a stronger moderate caucus that understands that regulatory provisions that make it difficult to operate rental housing hurt the state's economic recovery. The equation is simple. The state cannot grow business without housing and housing won't grow in a hostile regulatory climate.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that the Governor has made it clear that he will not support regulation that prevents growth of the economy. His many vetoes of bills hostile to business have set the record straight that this is a business friendly Governor.

The last, but certainly not least important key ingredient, is the fact that the markets are much different today than they were when the extended notice was first considered. Vacancy rates are up in many areas significantly higher than the 5% level that WCLP called a healthy rate in 2000. Rent levels are trending down in some cites and are growing at a very limited rate in others. As a consequence, tenants have many more housing options than they did in 2000 and the argument that tenants cannot find suitable replacement housing in today's market just won't fly.

You Can Help

We still need more ammunition. It is not enough merely to say that a change in law is unnecessary. We need to show that the 60-day notice is bad law and injurious to owners and tenants.

The Association wants owners to report on their experiences with 60-day notices so we can document the effect of the extended notice. Specifically, we are asking all of our readers to contact the Association with their stories about dealing with difficult tenants who have been given sanctuary by being able to remain in their rental units for long periods of time. We are asking owners to tell us how the longer notice period has affected properties that they are trying to sell to owner occupants. We would like to know if the 60-day notice period has increased the number of terminations under the three-day notice to quit for material breach of the rental agreement.

Please let us hear from you right away. The Association has good ammunition to use against the 60-day notice. Nevertheless, your input will make the effort even more likely to succeed.

Greg McConnell heads The McConnell Group, a California Advocacy and Consulting firm. The McConnell Group represents and advises apartment associations, property management companies, and individual owners throughout California.
For more information please visit
( This article is copyrighted and cannot be republished without the consent of the author.)
1 (California Association of Realtors puts that number at 75% of the population)

2004 Legislation Year End Summary


We had a great 2003 - 2004 Legislative Session! We killed every bill we opposed. The only bills that passed were neutralized through careful negotiations. At this point, we are awaiting final action from the Governor on several bills. We anticipate that he will sign the remaining legislation and that most of the bills that we negotiated will be chaptered into law and take effect on January 1, 2005.

We continue to build a very strong reputation in the Capitol on housing policy. When major policy initiatives are considered, we are amongst the first to be called by Members of the Legislature, the Administration, committee consultants, legislative staffers, and our supporters and opponents. This is direct evidence that we are considered extremely strong on housing policy formation and very effective in communicating our positions on issues of importance.

Here is the year-end roundup as of September 20, 2004. For more information and direct links to each bill please visit and click on 2004 Legislation:
AB 1426 (Steinberg) Affordable Housing: Greater Sacramento Passed
AB 1850 (Cohn) Property Taxation: business records retention Dead
AB 2088 (Dutra) Residential real property: Costa Hawkins Inactive
AB 2348 (Mullin) Housing element: regional housing needs Passed
AB 2148 (Lowenthal) Housing Elements Passed
AB 2175 (Canciamilla) Conversion of Rental Housing Dead
AB 2194 (Cogdill) Prevailing wages: determinations: task force Dead
AB 2400 (Keene) Controlled Substances Meth Laboratories Dead
AB 2523 (Frommer) Controlled Substances - Unlawful Detainer Passed
AB 2582 (Lieber) Tenancy: environmental hazards Dead
AB 2583 (Lieber) Tenancy: personal information Dead
AB 2980 (Salinas) Housing element: self-certification Dead
SB 115 (Torlakson) Landlord Tenants - Payments Chaptered
SB 17 (Escutia) Property Taxation - Change Of Ownership Dead
SB 1145 (Burton) Tenancy Chaptered
SB 1404 (Soto) Multifamily improvement districts Passed
SB 1508 (Ducheny) Loans: restrictions: code violations Passed
SB 1609 (Dunn) Housing development projects: local agencies Dead
SB 1634 (Alarcon) Substandard conditions Dead
SB 1722 (Ducheny) Proposition 65: enforcement: judgments Dead

Next month, we will know every new law that will take effect. We will provide analysis in November and December articles on what changes need to be made in operations to ensure compliance with new laws.

It is now time to start considering our 2005 - 06 agenda. The good news is that I have had numerous discussions with Administration officials including Sunne McPeak, Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing, and have been assured that the Governor will have a forceful housing production and pro-business agenda. We are very well positioned to be at the center of those efforts.

In addition, we have a new President of the Senate, Don Perata from Oakland. While he represents Oakland, which has rent control, Senator Perata is considered much more business friendly than his predecessor, John Burton, and his district is not nearly as anti-owner as San Francisco. We think we have a good shot at persuading Mr. Perata to moderate the overly pro-tenant approach used by Mr. Burton.

To be sure, we will have challenges next year. I have been informed that the tenant lobby will reintroduce legislation to require a 60-day notice of termination of tenancies and a host of other regulatory provisions. As well, an unrelenting core group of legislators will continue their constant legislative assaults that promote "social justice" at the expense of property owners. We will work with all members of the legislature to advance housing in California, but we will also make it clear that we will fight attempts to take away our members' rights.

As we get ready for next year, I have asked each association to convene its legislative committee to look into some of the most pressing problems and consider what a proactive agenda might look like. The only caveat is that while we are very strong on defense, we continue to face hostile "progressive" committees that will try to thwart major offensive reform.

I have also been considering new approaches that we may use to communicate more effectively next session. In addition to regular updates, Sacramento Reports, red alerts, and my website, I plan to hold monthly conference calls for McConnell Group Clients. This will give me a greater opportunity to get input and guidance on issues in a timely manner and ensure that all of the associations that I represent are in sync on strategies and tactics.

I encourage readers of this column to consider active involvement in your association if you have issues that you would like us to address. I also would like feedback from you on ways that I may provide better service to you. Please send me your thoughts.


I will be hosting meetings in October with owner and Realtor( groups in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other groups around the state to consider ways to address the replacement roommate issue that was the focus of AB 2088. I will update you on those efforts. For the time being, new lease provisions to use to protect your right to increase the rent when all original tenants no longer occupy the property are under review. Please contact your association for details.

In closing, it continues to be my privilege and honor to represent you in Sacramento. I hope to continue as your advocate for many years to come. We have enjoyed much success, but we can never become complacent. Let us continue to look for better ways to advance and protect the vital interests of housing providers in California.

Greg McConnell heads The McConnell Group, a California Advocacy and Consulting firm. The McConnell Group represents and advises apartment associations, property management companies, and individual owners throughout California.
For more information please visit
( This article is copyrighted and cannot be republished without the consent of the author.)
1 (California Association of Realtors puts that number at 75% of the population)

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