"What Have You Done For Me Lately?" How Advocacy Impacts Landlords
"What Have You Done For Me Lately?"
It is an all too common question from the members of Apartment Associations across the country, but especially for AAGLA, here in Southern California: What have you done for me lately?
Why the despair? Because our Legislators are not fully understanding that most landlords are NOT huge corporate entities, but in fact, small Mom-and-Pop owned apartments that have provided rental units to people since the beginning of time. Rental housing is more often owned by a small business person which means that collecting no rent over the entire two plus years of the Pandemic, and still not being able to collect it or to evict those who still are not going pay, impacts the economic well being of the future of the Los Angeles Area.
For the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles we take these matters very seriously, and the truth is we have had many “wins” this year that impact and directly effect all of members. The advocacy efforts undertaken by our state lobbyists in Sacramento and the efforts of our local government affairs team have yielded many positive results. Although in this environment it is difficult if not impossible to “win” each and every time, we have a successful track record of amending proposed regulations that easily could have been far, far worse had we not gotten involved.
Yes, that’s right…our “wins” are typically singles and doubles and a once in awhile home run, but rarely a grand slam if we are to steal a baseball analogy. However, our successful opposition in past years to Propositions 10 and 21, and proposed state bills that had sought to eliminate state protections we enjoy under the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 should definitely be categorized as the “grand slams.”
State Advocacy Efforts
With over 2,600 state bills proposed and nearly 5 dozen impacting rental housing regulations this current legislative session, we were able to knock-put approximately 80% and have amended many others so they are not as harmful as they might have been – we are still working on this years legislation.
However, so far, here’s a short list of bills that we have successfully opposed:
- State Rental Registry
- Gross Receipts Tax (at 25%)
- “Ban the Box” Limitations on Inquiring About Past Criminal Convictions During Application Process
- Energy Efficiency Disclosures
- Elimination of Protections Under Costa-Hawkins (Senate Bill 466) – Exemptions from Local Rent Control Preserved
- LED Lighting / Light Pollution Requiring Replacement of Lighting Fixtures to Accommodate LED Bulbs
- Cooling in Multifamily Dwellings
- Prohibitions on Use of Credit History in Screening Process
Local Advocacy Efforts
We were able to stop rent control from becoming law and prevented a “right to counsel” ordinance in the City of San Bernardino, and we have stopped tenant protections and rent control so far in cities such as Burbank and Glendale. In the City of Claremont, we also stopped a proposed rent stabilization (control) ordinance and helped convince the city council there to invest $1.0 million (increased from initial proposal of $300,000) in a direct rental assistance program to help qualified renters there pay rent (and, thus help owners too).
In the City of Pomona this year, we successfully reduced relocation fees by 33% from the amounts proposed by the city council there (which were based on and copied “dollar for dollar” from the City of Los Angeles’ ordinance).
We also defeated an effort by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to extend Just Cause tenancy termination restrictions countywide, including both unincorporated and incorporated areas of the county. Additionally, we defeated an effort by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that would have further reduced limits on rent increases in the county’s unincorporated areas to just 3% per year.
Finally, we successfully opposed an effort by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to extend the pandemic-era eviction moratorium indefinitely by tying it to a homelessness emergency and we successfully fought for the creation of the small owner rental assistance program in Los Angeles County that will provide $45 million (which was a large increase from the original $15 million originally contemplated).
In the City of Los Angeles, we fought hard for the establishment of a small rental property owner relief fund, and the city agreed to provide for initial funding of $10 million. Also, this year, we sued the City of Los Angeles seeking to overturn new tenant protections (hearing pending) and also to overturn the new Measure ULA which is a 5.5% property transfer tax. We also successfully obtained an injunction against the County of Los Angeles over its COVID eviction moratorium. During the past 3 years alone, we have filed 7 lawsuits on behalf of our members.
We are also in the early stages of launching a campaign to oppose the “Justice for Renters Act,” which is a similar proposition to Proposition 10 and Proposition 21, which if passed, would allow local cities to impose the WORST kind of rent control, including dictating how much you can charge for vacant units.
There are many other significant issues we have been addressing and many other “wins” we have informed our members of in our monthly Apartment Age magazine and emails. We are the only group out there protecting your interests, and keeping you informed of new regulations.
Here are just some of the other issues we are focusing on:
- Cooling in multifamily (City of Los Angeles to make a habitability issue)
- Expansion of rent control and tenant protection regulations under consideration throughout Southern California
- Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (“T.O.P.A.”) requiring granting a 30-60 day right of first refusal to tenants and/or non-profit organizations before being permitted to sell a property
- Lower and Lower Rent “Caps” (e.g., Santa Monica at 3% up to $70 per Month and West Hollywood at 3% Limit)
- Electrification and Anti-Carbon (e.g., Prohibition Against Gas Heaters & Appliances)
- Limitations / Restrictions on No-Fault Evictions for Substantial Remodel (e.g., Beverly Hills and South Pasadena)
- Increased Waste Hauling Fees (e.g., Glendale, Santa Monica) and Increased Utility Costs
- Higher Fees and Taxes, and More Contemplated Real Estate Transfer Fees
Another Ballot Initiative?
We are now facing another major threat that could destroy the livelihoods of landlords, a new state ballot initiative that could place us under the most extreme forms of local rent control that would not only impact multifamily properties, but also single-family homes, condominiums, accessory dwelling units, and new construction. On May 25, 2023, the tenant rights group, Housing Is a Human Right and its parent organization, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, delivered more than 800,000 signatures to the California Secretary of State to repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act.
These are the same special interests behind 2018’s (Proposition 10) and 2020’s (Proposition 21) rent control measures — they are at it again despite being rejected both times by a large majority, by 59% of voters. AIDS Healthcare Foundation President, Michael Weinstein, and his minions are back again with the same destructive proposal. We cannot afford to lose, and cannot let this new, deeply flawed proposition be passed. Help us fight back!
We Are Always Right Here for You!
In addition to all of the above advocacy efforts, we have produced 100s of webinars these past couple of years, and continue to offer them free to members from 1-3 times per week. We have also greatly expanded our forms library and the certification classes we offer. Each week, we receive 100s of phone calls and emails from members seeking property management advice, answers to questions on forms and regulations, and vendor referrals.
However, we would ask you what you can do for us?
The biggest reason we end up on the losing end of issues is lack of member engagement and participation in our advocacy efforts and lack of financial support for our Legal Fund and Political Action Committees. Paying us a couple of hundred dollars or so each year is truly appreciated, but more help is required from members like you to assist in our advocacy efforts by writing letters and emails to elected officials, making phone calls, and unfortunately, very often a successful effort takes the good old American dollar.
Please consider making the extra effort by helping us. Your story is an important story, and stories of struggles like yours and our other members who are being hurt by oppressive regulations must be told.
PLEASE! Support Us! Give Today…
If you want to help us STOP harmful regulations from passing in the future, give us the resources we need to successfully fight back. Please, contribute to the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles’ Political Action Committee TODAY! Make your contribution at: www.aagla.org/issuesPAC.
Also, help us to prevail in our legal actions by providing us with the necessary resources to prevail. Each year we spend 100’s of thousands of dollars on legal expenses seeking to overturn harmful regulations passed at the state and local levels. Without your continued support, we could not possibly engage in expensive litigation. Please give to our Legal Fund at www.aagla.org/legalfund.