Rental Housing Legislative Update: 15 Bills to Keep an Eye on

Last Updated: July 17, 2017By

By Becky Bower | ApplyConnect

As you might be hustling to get a vacancy filled and summer property maintenance done, state legislatures have been just as busy. With promising and threatening bills coming out of California, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon, make sure to take a moment to read over these recently passed and pending legislative bills.


San Jose’s Tenant Protection Ordinance (see city ordinance)

On May 9th, 2017, San Jose’s City Council passed the Tenant Protection Ordinance, limiting the reasons a tenant can be removed from a rent stabilized apartments, rental apartments, guest rooms in guesthouses, and unpermitted dwellings. Just cause terminations include: (1) nonpayment of rent, (2) material or habitual violation of the tenancy, (3) property damages, (4) refusal to agree to a new, identical rental agreement, (5) nuisance behavior, (6) refusing access to the apartment, and (7) unapproved subleasing. This ordinance also details No-Fault Just Cause Terminations. These terminations require relocation benefits to be paid to the removed tenants in the case of: (1) substantial rehabilitation of the apartment, (2) an Ellis Act removal, (3) the owner or owner’s family moves in, (4) a court or governmental agency’s order to vacate, and (5) the vacation of an unpermitted apartment. Take a look at San Jose’s helpful Fact Sheet.

San Jose’s Ellis Act Ordinance (see city ordinance)

The Ellis Act Ordinance was enacted by San Jose’s City Council on April 25th, 2017 and went into effect on May 25th, 2017. This ordinance allows owners of properties with rent stabilized buildings to permanently remove those buildings from the residential rental market for a different use. Owners who wish to withdraw their property from the rental market must draft a notice of intent to withdraw, provide relocation benefits or offer relocation to similar apartments to tenants, and provide reports to the City of San Jose.

Concord’s Rent-Mediation Program (see city ordinance)

Approved on May 2nd, 2017, the Residential Rent Review Program will give tenants in Concord the right to nonbinding mediation if their rent increases by more than 10% within a year. This affects tenants of all buildings with 3 or more units. The California Apartment Associationpredicts that the program could take effect as early as July.

PENDING: Micro-Apartment Bill (AB 352)

Under the existing law, cities and counties can permit the construction and occupancy of efficiency units that have minimum of 150 square feet meeting specified criteria. AB 352 would prohibit cities and counties from establishing a higher square footage requirement and from limiting the number of efficiency units in certain locations near public transit, car-share vehicles or a University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) college campus. Introduced by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), the bill aims to provide affordable housing in the form of micro-units. As of May 17th, 2017, this bill has passed the house and is onto the Senate. Read our in-depth article about micro-apartments.

PENDING: Voter Approval on Land Use Regulations (AB 943)

Also introduced by Assemblymember Santiago (D-Los Angeles), AB 943 would increase the voter threshold for approving no-growth measures, requiring at least 55% of the votes cast for an ordinance to be effective.

PENDING: Affordable Housing in San Francisco (AB 915)

Under current law, the Planning and Zoning Law requires that the city and/or county provide the housing developer a density bonus and other incentives for the production of low income housing units. AB 915 would require the City and County of San Francisco (if it adopts an ordinance requiring an affordable housing minimum percentage for housing developments) to apply those restrictions to developing units to receive their bonus. As currently written, this bill would not apply to developments seeking a density bonus with applications submitted or processed before January 1, 2018.

PENDING: Housing Accountability Act (AB 678)

The Housing Accountability Act “prohibits a local agency from disapproving, or conditioning approval in a manner than renders infeasible, a housing development project for very low, low-, or moderate-income households or an emergency shelter unless the local agency makes specified written findings based upon substantial evidence in the record.” AB 678 would require local governments to follow certain guidelines before denying housing projects and would impose penalties (including fines) for failing to comply with the act. Money gained through fines would be later used to construct affordable housing.

PENDING: Immigration Status in Housing (AB 291)

As we covered in a previous article, Assembly Bill 291 would prohibit landlords and properties from disclosing the tenant’s immigration or citizenship status to any immigration authority, law enforcement agency, or local, state, or federal agency. They are also prohibited from inquiring into the immigration or citizenship status of a rental applicant or tenant. As currently amended, the landlord would have to pay statuary damages (per person whose information was disclosed) of 12 times the monthly rent charged. This bill has passed the Assembly and is moving on to the Senate.

DEAD: Santa Rosa Rent Control (Measure C)

On June 6th, 2017, Santa Rosa voters will be voting on Measure C, a rent stabilization ordinance that caps rent increases at 3% per year on apartment units built prior to 1995.  The measure also calls for the elimination of “no-cause evictions” by including a “just-cause” provision. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 6/7/17: The people of Santa Rosa, in efforts made with the California Apartment Association and other allies, rejected Measure C with 52.5% of the vote. Keep informed on legislative activities as these types of bills will often resurface with minor edits in the next few years.


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