Loophole that expires Thursday lets landlords raise rents by evicting tenants during the holiday season.
A “rising tide” of California tenants have been getting preemptive, 60-day “notices to vacate” their apartments in advance of AB 1482, the state’s new rent cap law, as landlords take advantage of a window that closes Thursday to raise rents before the law kicks in on Jan. 1, tenants rights groups report.
Even though most tenants are paying their rent and obeying the rules, many have been told they need to move out by Christmas.
“We’re getting people who are long-term tenants, 10 or 11 years, suddenly getting the notice for no apparent reason,” said Dave Levy, programs specialist for the Fair Housing Council of Orange County. “ … That’s a blow around the holidays. Typically, we don’t see landlords handing out such notices at this time of year because it’s not a good time to re-rent those units.”
Nobody knows how many tenants have received such notices.
Daniel Yukelson, CEO of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, said his group hasn’t heard of large numbers of landlords issuing such “no-fault evictions.”
But tenant’s rights groups say the number of calls reporting the practice has been mounting. San Francisco-based Tenants Together, a statewide tenant’s rights group, reported a bump of 20% to 30% since last summer when the statewide rent-cap measure was under review.
And prominent eviction attorney Dennis Block said in a recent YouTube video, “We’ve been serving these up like hotcakes.”
The practice is legal until Thursday, Oct. 31, two months before AB 1482’s “just cause eviction” provisions take effect.
Those provisions ban move-out notices for tenants in good standing unless the landlord needs to renovate the unit, move into the unit or take it off the rental market. And even then, the landlord must pay the tenant one month’s rent in relocation assistance.
Daniel Yukelson, CEO of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles
“We do not condone preemptive evictions in advance of Assembly Bill 1482’s effectiveness…”
Block and others maintain the practice is a legitimate way for landlords charging below-market rents to get around AB 1482’s rent cap of 5% plus inflation, retroactive to March 2019. Once the old tenant is out, landlords can raise rents to market rate before a new tenant moves in, Block said.
But even some landlord leaders have been squeamish about the practice, with California Apartment Association lobbyist Debra Carlton telling the nonprofit news outlet CalMatters, “This is unconscionable.”
“We do not condone preemptive evictions in advance of Assembly Bill 1482’s effectiveness,” Yukelson added.
The cities of Los Angeles and Milpitas voted last week to adopt moratoriums on no-fault evictions until AB 1482 takes effect.
At least six other cities – Anaheim, Burbank and Bell Gardens in Southern California and Santa Cruz, Daly City and Redwood City in the Bay Area – are discussing similar action this week, city records show.
Current law allows landlords to issue move-out notices unilaterally without giving a reason, provided the renter isn’t under a lease and gets at least 60-days notice, 30 days if the tenant has lived in the unit for under a year.
But that option expires Jan. 1. AB 1482 imposes “just cause” eviction controls for tenants of at least a year throughout the state on apartments or corporate-owned rental houses that are at least 15 years old.
Block, who claims to be the nation’s leading eviction attorney, has been advocating for months that landlords take advantage of the closing window. He also has been posting a countdown to Thursday’s deadline on Twitter, urging property owners to “call my office for assistance.”
“Kick them out. Serve a 60-day notice,” Block said during an Apartment Owners Association seminar in mid-October posted on YouTube. “Do you have to feel guilty? … The answer is no. Did we create this problem? No. Did our Legislature create this problem? The answer is, of course, they did.”
But tenants’ rights groups argue landlords should think about the human consequences of preemptive move-out notices.
“Property owners should think about the domino effect of their decisions,” said Lupe Arreola, executive director of Tenants Together. “Just because you want to increase the rent, someone has to (move) further and further out. They may have to switch jobs or their children may have to switch schools. … It affects their entire lives.”
Meanwhile, a statewide emergency declaration issued Oct. 27 in response to California’s wildfires also imposed a 10% cap on rent hikes for all housing in all 58 counties under the state’s long-existing anti-gouging law.
The cap, which will be in effect for 30 days, applies to all homes, affects housing not included in AB 1482, including houses and condos and including new homes and apartments.