President’s Message: The Justice for Renters Act Will Make Our Housing Crisis Far Worse

Posted By: Cheryl Turner, Esq. Industry News,

President’s Message

The Justice for Renters Act Will Make Our Housing Crisis Far Worse

By Cheryl Turner, AAGLA Board President and Attorney at Turner Law

Here in California, we have some of the ‘toughest-in-the-nation’ statewide and local tenant protection laws that place limitations on rent increases and on evictions. Under state law, the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 which allows an owner of a vacant unit to re-rent the unit at any price, including at the prevailing market rate, provides important exemptions to state and local rent stabilization laws to encourage future investments in the construction of housing in order to meet society’s ever-increasing demand for housing.

But Michael Weinstein, the President and Founder of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, along with his special interest groups, are now pushing his latest initiative, known as the “Justice for Renters Act,” which will be appearing on the November 2024 statewide ballot. Like its predecessors Proposition 10 (2018) and Proposition 21 (2020), this latest ballot measure, if passed, will undermine the California rental housing business by seeking to destroy Costa Hawkins. Michael Weinstein and his affiliates have already spent more than $30 million on the two, prior and badly flawed rental housing measures. In spite of this waste of funds on Propositions 10 and 21 which could have been used to fund medical research and medical care, Mr. Weinstein continues to expend his foundation’s dollars on initiatives which the voters have overwhelmingly rejected by nearly two-thirds of the vote in each instance. 

And now, we are again facing another attack on Costa Hawkins by the Justice for Renters Act, which is even more flawed than Weinstein’s last two measures. Not only is this proposed ballot initiative harmful for those of us in the rental housing business, it also removes the protection that owners of single-family homes, condominiums, ADUs and owners of newly built properties had who were previously exempted from rental control (?????).” You would need to register those units and be subjected to periodic inspections. If passed, the initiative will reduce our housing supply and will make California’s housing crisis even worse, and it will destroy your “bottom line.”

The Justice for Renters Act, in effect, would give local cities and counties statewide the chance to impose some of the worse forms of rent control which is not necessary because we already have many forms of rent control in place. In addition to state-wide rent control in the form of Assembly Bill 1482, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkley, West Hollywood, Culver City, Inglewood, Los Angeles Santa Monica, and many other municipalities are all under state-wide and local rent control ordinances that restricts the caps on the annual rental increase to three percent (3%) or less. This does not include the rent moratoria that were put into place where tenants were not obligated to pay any rent at all for over three (3) years. In addition to lost exemptions for certain types of housing, at stake here is the loss of “vacancy decontrol.” Again, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this very important concept, “vacancy decontrol” is what allows property owners to rent or lease their units at the going market rate of rent (or more), without restriction, each time a vacancy occurs. 

The loss of vacancy decontrol would be devastating and have severe financial consequences for anyone that owns any type or age of residential rental property should the Justice for Renters Act pass. Our housing crisis would become far, far worse. By way of example, the City of New York, which prohibits vacancy decontrol, restricts the amount of allowable rent when a unit becomes vacant. As a result, it is estimated that approximately 22,000 rental units within the City of New York are being left vacant because following many years of occupancy at far below market rents, owners cannot afford to renovate and re-rent the units – in other words, renovating and re-renting these units do not offer any return on investment, and in fact trying to re-rent them would result in higher losses than just leaving them vacant making the housing shortage there worse.

The Justice for Renters Act does not provide rent relief nor even build one unit of affordable (or market rate) housing. Not only will developers be discouraged from constructing new housing units, but rental property owners will also be encouraged, as a matter of pure economic survival, to convert their properties into other uses such as for sale condominiums rather than remaining in the rental housing business. Developer will no longer undertake projects in California fearing over-regulation, extreme rent control and the removal of property tax protections. Instead, they will go to Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Florida to build. To make matters worse, the lack of new housing construction and the impact of taking rental housing units off of the market will mean less supply to meet the growing demand – raising housing prices and making it even harder for Californians to find affordable housing.

We must take a stand against the Justice for Renters Act and launch a strong opposition campaign. We are doing so both locally and statewide with multiple stakeholders who are engaged in the rental housing business and real estate industry. Everyone must help in our endeavor to defeat this latest attack on private property ownership and rental housing. We need your financial support today before it is too late.  We have to get ahead of the curve in our money raising efforts so we can secure as much media as possible to get our messaging out, and our messaging is “solid” to vote “No” on the “Justice for Renter’s Act” on the November 2024 ballot. Based on our latest polling we should be able to sway voters to vote “No”, – but, no matter how strong our arguments against the ballot initiative are, they won’t do any good if we cannot afford to communicate them to voters via all modes of communication and media.

We need your financial support to WIN!  Believe me…I know…it is never a good time to ask for money, especially given the horrendous, past three years we have all gone through and are still dealing with. Nevertheless, it is our goal to raise $1.5 million towards a statewide fundraising goal of between $80 million to $90 million. Accordingly, we are asking each of our members help in the fight by contributing $50.00 to $100.00 PER UNIT to help us fight-back and win against the initiative’s well-financed proponents. Perhaps, this being the third time we’ve had to go up against Mr. Weinstein, we can finally say it's “strike three and you’re out!”

Give us the resources we need to defeat this ill-conceived ballot initiative!  Please contribute today.  Don’t delay!  Mail in your contribution today using the enclosed envelope.  Make your check payable  to:  Issues PAC of AAGLA, c/o Reed & Davidson, LLP, 515 South Figueroa Street, Suite 1110, Los Angeles, California 90071-3301; Attn. Cary Davidson, Treasurer, or contribute online at:  For more information call us at (213) 384-4131.

Cheryl C. Turner, Esq. has been the managing attorney at Turner & Associates for more than 20 years. Throughout her career, she has served on many community and government boards and commissions. She was first appointed as the area representative to the South Coast Air Quality Management District advocating for clean air in our community. She was then appointed to the Los Angeles Convention and Exhibition Center Authority to promote tourism and the development of convention and exhibition facilities in the City of Los Angeles.  During her term with the Authority, she was the Vice-President of its 15 board member commission. She has served as an arbitrator for the Ford Motor Company Consumer Dispute Resolution Board helping consumers to resolve issues involving the purchase, operation, and repair of their Ford vehicles.

Ms. Turner is currently serving as a member of the Executive Board of the Santa Monica Redevelopment Corporation which constructs and manages affordable senior housing. She was appointed by the Governor to serve as a board member/commissioner to the California State Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) which provides protection for public safety, issues licenses, establishes the scope of nursing practices, and ensures that nursing educational institutions meet the standards set by the BVNPT.

Since 2020, she has served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) and has served as a board member of AAGLA for more than 10 years. She has been involved as an investor in rental housing for more than the past 20 years.  Ms. Turner earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations and Psychology from the University of Southern California (USC), and her Juris Doctor degree from USC’s Gould School of Law.