August 9, 2020
The California state Legislature plans to weigh eviction protection measures in the current legislative session set to adjourn on Aug. 31. But the timing of any new legislation is running up against a decision by the Judicial Council to lift the suspension on COVID-19 evictions. The Judicial Council oversees the state’s court system and had delayed a vote on the existing ban earlier this summer, which now could come as early as Aug. 14.
The most prominent eviction protection bills under consideration by the Legislature are Assembly Bill 1436 and Senate Bill 1410, which are slated for committee review in mid-August. AB 1436 would make rental property owners defer rent payments for tenants who are either unable, or unwilling, to pay for housing during the COVID-19 pandemic, points out the California Apartment Association (CAA).
CAA’s writes of AB 1436, “The bill does not provide for – nor is it tied to – any funding to help tenants and landlords with the unpaid rent. There is no way many rental property owners will be able to keep their buildings from foreclosure if AB 1436 were to become law.”
And despite efforts to provide forbearance relief for landlords in the proposed legislation, CAA says AB 1436 would violate both the U.S. and California constitutions by taking a landlord’s property without just compensation. “AB 1436 transfers the COVID-19 burdens of tenants to rental housing providers and represents just the sort of action the taking clause was intended to prevent,” CAA writes.
Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon requested the Judicial Council consider pushing back their eviction proceedings into September. They say delaying the decision will avoid “chaos” and prevent a gap in tenant protections if the Legislature passes an urgency bill and the governor signs it into law.
The legislative leaders advised Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye that moving too quickly on new tenant legislation doesn’t give them enough time to vet the measures. Atkins and Rendon wrote, “Speeding up the legislative process is nearly impossible, given the current precautions needed to reduce the risk of viral transmission during legislative business.”
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser