Saturday, September 8, 2012

Good News For California Tenants Impacted By Landlords In Foreclosure & Related Problems With Unscrupulous Banksters, Investors, Real Estate Agents

In Sacramento, California, Beyond Chron reports:

  • [D]espite realtor and landlord campaign contributions and the undue influence they bring, a number of good renters’ rights bills have made it through the minefield of the California State Legislature and are now on the Governor’s desk. Governor Jerry Brown has 30 days to sign or veto the bills.

    AB 1953Protecting Tenants from Unfair Evictions after Ownership Changes

    Authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), AB 1953 plugs a loophole in California law which has allowed successor landlords, especially after foreclosure, to wait months before notifying tenants of an ownership change and where to send rent. AB 1953 passed the Legislature this week and is now in the Governor’s hands.

    Existing California law in theory requires new owners to notify tenants within 15 days of an ownership change, where to pay rent, and whom to contact for repairs, but does not say what happens when the new owner fails to comply.

    Under AB 1953, a new owner who delays in notifying a tenant where to pay rent would not be permitted later to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent that accrued during the period of the owner’s noncompliance. By creating a consequence for failing to properly notify tenants of ownership changes, the bill seeks to increase compliance with existing notification requirements and protect tenants from unnecessary confusion and evictions.
Reportedly, three other bills protecting tenants in foreclosure situations that await the governor's signature:
  • place the burden of disputing leases on the post-foreclosure owner,

  • amend “pre-judgment claim” rules to plug a loophole banks and investors have used to evict tenants without ever naming them in eviction proceedings,

  • prohibit a landlord from requiring online payment as the exclusive form of rent payment. The bill responds to “online only” rent schemes that are designed to force out long-term, rent-controlled tenants,

  • create a statutory duty to disclose notices of default to prospective renters, an effort to safeguard unwitting tenants from learning of an upcoming foreclosure after they have shelled out money for rent, deposits, and moving costs, and moved into their new home. This bill specifies remedies in the event of nondisclosure by the landlord. Specifically, the bill would provide tenants the option to void lease and sue for damages (twice rent or twice actual damages), or elect to stay in possession and deduct one month’s rent. The bill is limited to 1-4 unit buildings.

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