Governor Signs Law to Stop Unfair Evictions
By Randy Shaw
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed an important new law to protect tenants after rental property ownership changes. The bill, AB 1953, will prevent unfair and unnecessary evictions when a new owner buys rental property and fails to communicate with tenants. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D – San Francisco), authored the bill to stop unfair evictions.
"Too many tenants have been scammed out of their homes by the confusion of an ownership change," said Ammiano. "We're putting a stop to that."
Sponsored by Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters' rights, the new law addresses rising complaints across the state that new owners, especially banks and investors after foreclosure, are not communicating with tenants and then forcing them out unfairly.
"Many good tenants will be able to stay in their homes as a result of this bill," commented Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together.
The bill provides that a new owner who delays beyond 15 days in notifying a tenant where to pay rent cannot later evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent that accrued before the notification. The bill seeks to increase communication and transparency when a new owner takes over, and to protect tenants from unnecessary confusion and evictions. Advocates noted that this is the first state law in years to expressly outlaw any type of eviction.
"The success of this bill reflects the growing tenant movement in California," said Preston. "With 15 million renters in the state, a figure that is growing every day with all the homeowners-turned-renters in the foreclosure crisis, this sleeping giant of California politics has awoken."
Indeed, the bill's supporters in the Legislature included Republicans and Democrats who have historically opposed tenants' rights measures.
The new law will take effect on January 1, 2013.
Randy Shaw is an attorney and the Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic in San Francisco. He is also an author and activist, and the editor of the Beyond Chron online journal, where this article was originally published.