SACRAMENTO – California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law Saturday to strengthen eviction protections for renters and close a loophole in an existing law that allows landlords to avoid the state rent cap.
The measure updates a 2019 landmark law that created rules around evictions and established a rent cap of 5% plus the inflation rate, with a 10% maximum.
Under the 2019 law, landlords can evict tenants for “at fault” or “no fault” reasons. “At fault” reasons include failure to pay rent on time. Under “no-fault” rules, landlords can stop renting by saying they need to move units, make repairs or take the units off the rental market.
Tenant advocates say some landlords are taking advantage of “no-fault” evictions to avoid the state’s rent limit. They pointed to a case in Santa Clara County where a landlord evicted tenants, citing the need to relocate relatives, but relisted the units at nearly double the price.
Under the new law, landlords who move out of their units or rent to families must also identify the people moving out. In addition, the renter must be occupied within three months of eviction and they must live in the unit for at least one year. Those evicting tenants to repair properties must include copies of permits or contracts, among other details, when serving eviction notices.
Landlords who do not comply must allow evicted tenants to return under the original terms of the lease.
“Today is a win for all Californians,” said Michelle Pariset, director of legislative affairs at Public Advocates, the group sponsoring the legislation. “Through this law more of our neighbors can stay in their homes!”
The law, authored by Democratic state Sen. María Elena Durazo, also authorized the attorney general, local government and tenants to sue landlords for wrongful evictions and illegal rent increases.
Advocates said they are working with many local governments to tighten the loophole, but the new law will ensure that landlords across the state can no longer abuse the system.
The bill faced fierce backlash earlier this year from powerful landlord groups, who said the changes went too far and successfully forced lawmakers to eliminate a provision that sought to reduce the state rent cap to 5%.