Gov. Jerry Brown signs legislation making it harder to evict tenants.
A well intentioned law that just makes everything more complicated
What's In It?
Last week the governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed Bill AB-2343 into law. This bill extends the amount of time that a tenant can stay in a rental house without actually paying the rent or fulfilling other obligations of the lease. This new law goes into effect on September 1, 2019.
This law is not a huge deal for landlords, but it makes the eviction process that much lengthier and complicated. Essentially, this law excludes holidays and weekends from the time that a tenant has to respond to a notice.
This includes the infamous 3-Day Pay Rent or Quit notice, which is the start of an eviction process. The 3-Day notice is simple, it tells the tenant that if they do not pay the past due rent within 3 days, the landlord is going to start the eviction process and remove the tenant from the home.
California’s new law also covers the 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant (Cure) or Quit. This notice is served to a tenant when the tenant is still paying rent, but is somehow in violation of the lease. Examples of this include excessive weeds or trash in the yard, drugs on the property or adults living on the property who are not on the lease. Only If the tenant does not remedy the broken lease is the eviction process actually started.
This law’s aim is to prevent a landlord from posting a 3-day right before a 3 day weekend, and thus not giving the tenant any time to find legal representation. This is a good thing. However, it's safe to assume that there will be several instances where this law will be abused by bad tenants who are just trying to game the system and stay in the rental for as much time as possible without paying rent.
This new law goes even further and gives California tenants 5 business days to respond to an eviction lawsuit. An eviction lawsuit can only be filed after a tenant has not appropriately responded to a 3-day notice. The worst case scenario for a landlord, would be trying to file an eviction lawsuit in July.
Consider this year, when the 4th of July landed on a Wednesday. If a landlord were to file an eviction notice on Tuesday, the 4th of July would not be counted in the timeline. Thursday and Friday would, but Saturday and Sunday would not. Ultimately, this scenario would give the tenant more than a week to respond to an eviction lawsuit.
What's the Justification?
California Assemblyman David Chiu, who sponsored this bill said, “Tenants in California are facing unprecedented hardships and constantly living under the threat of eviction.” In reality, landlords are hesitant to evict tenants for a few reasons.
First, most landlords are sympathetic and understanding of the financial problems that their tenants face. Most landlords are not racing towards eviction at the first opportunity. Secondly, evictions are very expensive and time consuming. A landlord has to actually show up to court in order to get a tenant evicted. And it usually takes at least 2 months to get a tenant out of the property.
It simply does not make financial sense to evict a good tenant.
Ultimately, excluding weekends from the 3-Day timeline will have little to no effect on the eviction process. However, this law does a great job of accomplishing one thing.
It makes the eviction process that much more complicated and time consuming for landlords.
By the way, if a landlord messes up this timeline, even by a few hours, the entire eviction lawsuit will be thrown out. This new law, which many landlords will not know about, will result in countless eviction lawsuits being canceled for this very reason. This will enable countless bad tenants to stay in a home they are not paying for.
The ever changing California law is becoming increasingly complicated. So much so that many landlords are deciding to either sell their homes or sign up with a professional property management company. If you decide to stay in the business of residential landlording, be sure you have a good working knowledge of the laws that govern the business or work with a company that does.
The easiest way to avoid dealing with 3-day notices and evictions is to make sure that a good tenant gets placed in your home in the first place. Verifying an applicant’s history and making sure they are qualified to rent your home is the most important part of property management.
It All Starts With The Right Tenant
Finding a good tenant takes time, and unfortunately, it means having to turn a lot of people down. In fact, we process hundreds of applications per month and only approve about 15% of all applicants applying for our properties.
When we screen an applicant, the first thing we do is call the applicant’s current and previous landlord. We want to make sure that the applicant has a history of paying rent on time, and that there are no complaints against the applicant.
Next, we call their employer to verify that they are employed and that their income is what they claim. After that, we look at their credit score, and make sure that the prospective tenant has a history of paying bills on time. Finally, we run a national criminal background check to screen for violent offenders.
If you would like more info on screening applicants, check out this resource.
If you are finding that renting out your property is more complicated than you thought, don’t worry! We're here for you!
We have become experts at finding good tenants to rent out your home, and we have gotten really good at managing those tenants once they move in.