A pair of ill-conceived bills get reincarnated

Lawmakers want to disallow landlords to exit the rental business and collect reams of information in a statewide rental registry. One thing we can say about tenants' advocates is that they are a resilient bunch and it seems their motto is if something fails, try, try again.

Can rental property owners be sentenced to life without parole? 

Along with his colleagues David Chiu and Richard Bloom, California Assemblyman Alex Lee introduced AB 854, a bill dubbed the "Stay in Business Forever Act." The bill was the latest attack on the Ellis Act in a long and storied history of efforts to erode the rights of landlords to leave the rental market.

The legislation died on the vine just two months ago, but guess what? It's back.

Not to be deterred, Assemblyman Lee introduced AB 2050, which would prohibit many rental housing providers to terminate tenancies and exit the landlording business until all owners of the property have had their ownership stake for at least five years.

We have always maintained that landlords should be able to move into their building, retire from the rental business when the day comes, or convert their property to their heart's desire because, well, it is their property.

Yet anyone who uses the 1986 law that cemented a landlord's right to bow out of the landlording business is called a "greed-fueled speculator."

The previous iteration of the bill didn't garner enough votes and we hope that the newly introduced AB 2050 shares the same fate.


Is the fourth time the charm?

That's the premonition of Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, as told in this interview.

AB 2469 is now her fourth attempt to institute a statewide rent registry that would ask landlords to peel back the books and cough up reams of information about their rental business.

For owners who are not transparent and fail to register, they would be banned from increasing the rent or terminating a tenancy.

Bornstein Law has not been a Johnny-Come-Lately in opposing rent registries, having seen multiple proposals for state and local databases.

These types of schemes present a nightmare from an IT perspective, are very costly to taxpayers, and require a great deal of extra work for rental housing providers.

There are, as well, privacy concerns. Landlord and tenants' advocates have become odd bedfellows in opposing vast databases because it turns out, nobody wants their personal information on display for the rest of the world to see on a website.

Although past initiatives have failed, Assemblywoman Wicks has advanced her professional career by becoming the chair of the California Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. This certainly bestows more clout to overcome legislative obstacles so this measure should not be somehow discounted or assumed to fail. Maybe the fourth time is the charm.