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Calif. renters will gain new legal protections & a doubled state tax credit; if lawmakers pass a package of new bills

Calif. renters will gain new legal protections & a doubled state tax credit; if lawmakers pass a package of bills announced to help millions of people coping with the threat of eviction & lack of available rental housing. 

The proposals, aim to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants, give renters more time to respond to eviction notices, and bar landlords from evicting all of their tenants while remaining in the rental business. 

Lawmakers unveiled the details just weeks after an attempt to lift statewide restrictions on rent control died in its first committee hearing.

Renters groups are gathering signatures to place a repeal of the state’s rent control restrictions, a law known as Costa Hawkins, on the Nov. ballot.

Also announced was a bill to raise the state tax credit to $120 for renters filing their taxes as individuals and $240 for joint filers. It would be the first increase in the credit since 1979, according to its author, Sen. Steve Glazer.

Chiu’s Assembly Bill 2343 would give tenants more time to challenge evictions and to comply with the terms of their leases. They currently have just five calendar days to respond, he said, even if they are served an eviction notice on the Friday before a long weekend.

A bill from Assemblyman Richard Bloom, would tighten landlord restrictions and expand renter protections in a landmark housing law known as the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict all of their tenants in order to withdraw from the rental market.

Under Bloom’s Assembly Bill 2364, landlords who use the Ellis Act for mass evictions would be unable to later put any of the properties back on the market. The bill would also require landlords to give all tenants one year’s notice of such an eviction, rather than 120 days.

A proposal expected this week from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, would create a law that establishes a set of valid reasons that can be used to evict a tenant. The rules, known as “just cause,” allow landlords to evict a renter only for specific reasons, such as failing to pay rent.

"It’s encouraging Sacramento has turned its attention to the plight of renters", said Dean Preston, executive director of the San Francisco based advocacy group Tenants Together, who said he is still studying the bill.

Chiu hopes the bills, which don't touch the polarizing rent control debate, might have more success than the effort to repeal Calif. rent-control limits.