Daniela Hernandez’s parents have lived in their two-bedroom apartment in Salinas for 13 years, paying less than $1,000 a month in rent. Two of the six kids have left the nest; Hernandez went to UC Berkeley and now lives on her own in Salinas, and her 18-year-old brother attends CSU Sacramento. That leaves their farmworker dad, stay-at-home mom, and four siblings, 13, 11 and 18-month-old twins. On Nov. 1, they received a 60-day eviction notice. They’re now scrambling to find a place they can afford before Dec. 31.
Renters’ advocates are reporting that rent increases and eviction notices are popping up across the state as Jan. 1, 2020, approaches – the date Assembly Bill 1482, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, takes effect. It caps annual rent increases at 5 percent plus inflation, not to exceed 10 percent, and protects against “no-fault” evictions. It also requires landlords to pay relocation fees of those evicted. (Privately owned single-family homes, duplexes where the owner lives in one unit, and units newer than 15 years old are exempt, as are units owned by nonprofits.)
A spokesperson for Cal Property Management, the company that manages the Salinas complex where the Hernandezes live, says the evictions served on six of the 12 families have nothing to do with AB 1482. The two buildings at the property are 64 and 42 years old and in need of major repairs, Carrie Appling says. Only so much can be repaired before major items like plumbing must be replaced, which could take months and requires residents to move out.
But Hernandez found the timing suspicious. Originally renters were told on Sept. 16 that rent was increasing from $945 to $1,134 on Jan. 1, then received eviction notices later. Appling insists it was a matter of timing – the building’s owner secured financing in October to start renovations in January.
All 12 units received rent increases in September; those who are not being evicted will have their increases lowered to meet AB 1492 limits. Appling points out that rents had not been raised since 2017.
In other cases, renters’ advocates say they believe increases and evictions are linked to the coming law, especially in light of advice owners have been receiving, like that of Los Angeles attorney Dennis Block. In a presentation he made to the Apartment Owners Association of California on Oct. 16, available on YouTube, he says, “Tell all your investment buddies… you’ve got about 15 days to serve a notice to terminate. This is your lifeline right now.”
With renters temporarily unprotected before Jan. 1, officials in Monterey County are rushing to enact urgency ordinances. On Nov. 14, Seaside became the first city in the county to unanimously pass one that mirrors the protections of AB 1482. On Nov. 19, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve an ordinance that stops evictions, even those that have passed, if the renters are still “in possession” of the unit.
That evening, Salinas City Council also met. Councilmember Scott Davis requested consideration of a similar ordinance, plus a tenant bill of rights; the soonest it can be heard is Dec. 3.
Other cities, including Monterey and Pacific Grove, have put discussion of urgency ordinances on their agendas.