Defense of Ellis Act successful in 2017

Amid fierce opposition from CAA, lawmakers have once again fallen short in their efforts to weaken California’s Ellis Act – the 1985 law that protects a property owner’s right to exit the rental housing business.

Since 1985, the Ellis Act has provided an important safety valve for landlords operating in rent controlled jurisdictions, guaranteeing they can walk away from the business when rent control becomes too burdensome.

For three straight years, lawmakers have taken aim at this legislation, and each time, the California Apartment Association has derailed the proposals.

The latest efforts included AB 423 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and AB 982 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica.

AB 423 would have exempted residential hotels in Oakland from the Ellis Act, prohibiting owners from closing their buildings, even if facing financial hardships. The bill, however, failed passage Tuesday on the Assembly Floor after receiving only 21 votes. It needed 41 votes to pass.

AB 982 would have expanded the number of tenants who are entitled to receive a year’s notice from the landlord before the owner closes a building as allowed under the Ellis Act. While Bloom suspended efforts to pass AB 982 this year, the bill could be reconsidered in 2018.

Under current law, tenants who have lived in the unit for at least one year and who are at least 62 years of age or are disabled are entitled to a year’s notice from the landlord before the building is closed. Other tenants are entitled to a 120-day notice.

AB 982 would have extended the one-year notice requirement to all tenants, regardless of age or disability.

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