Landlords are evicting tenants ahead of rent control law: tenant group

Prominent real estate attorney says any evictions are the fault of Gov. Newsom and the legislature

Assemblyman David Chiu
Assemblyman David Chiu

Before California’s landmark rent control law goes into effect on Jan. 1, roughly three dozen cities and counties have passed emergency measures aimed at preventing tenant evictions.

The moratoria comes after scattered reports surfaced of landlords dramatically increasing rents and kicking tenants out, according to the Los Angeles Times, which cited data provided by the advocacy group Tenants Together.

Los Angeles is the largest of the local governments to impose a measure preventing evictions ahead of the Jan. 1 law. Other cities and counties range from the Silicon Valley to Central Valley and tiny cities in Los Angeles County.

On Oct. 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1482, which set rent caps and implemented “just cause” eviction rules, making California the third state in the nation to pass such legislation.

The law will cap annual rental increases for multifamily properties to 5 percent plus the consumer price index (estimated at up to 3.5 percent) over the next decade. It’s aimed at halting landlords who were raising rent prices to an average of $2,320 per month amid growing demand, according to a Marcus & Millichap report.

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The state law, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu, requires that landlords on Jan. 1 reduce rents to March 2019 levels. But it also permits them an allowable rent increase under the new cap, which is 8.3 percent in the Los Angeles area.

Attorney Dennis Block, who represents landlords, argued last month at a conference that landlords were protecting their investments by hiking rents and issuing evictions before the state law takes effect, according to the Times.

“The governor of the state of California and our wonderful state Legislature created a situation where they’re telling landlords to evict tenants,” Block told the Times. “Any problems that tenants are having, they should talk to their legislators who created this insanity.”

Others said tenant groups have exaggerated the number of evictions, and that politicians were pandering to renters.

Daniel Yukelson, the executive director of the Apartment Association of Great Los Angeles, said he doesn’t believe there have been mass evictions, and argued that it’s not worth the expense and time for a landlord unless it’s as a last resort. [LAT]Pat Maio