Finding rental housing in California is not always an easy task. In some neighborhoods, there may be no rentals available for individuals who need housing but do not have friends or family to call upon and who are unable to qualify for a mortgage. In other neighborhoods, rentals may be available but may be priced so high that individuals and/or families cannot afford them. Another circumstance that can make it difficult to find housing is being placed on a “blacklist” – a privately-created list of those tenants and renters who have had an eviction notice filed against them. Being on this tenant blacklist can (for some) mean the difference between securing that perfect rental and the landlord choosing to rent the unit to another tenant.
Gov. Brown Signs A.B. 2819
This week California Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 2819 into law, thereby granting protections to California renters against being wrongfully placed on tenant blacklists. Under the previous legal scheme, a landlord could file an eviction notice against a tenant under certain circumstances. Once that notice was served, an eviction lawsuit might thereafter be initiated. If the lawsuit was not resolved within 60 days of filing, the tenant’s name would be added to the blacklist automatically. The tenant’s name would remain on the blacklist even if the tenant were to win his or her eviction lawsuit. This could result in the tenant’s credit and ability to rent other housing being negatively impacted for years.
Under the new law, however, tenants who were still litigating their eviction at the end of 60 days would no longer need to fear being added to the blacklist. The renter would only be added to the blacklist if the eviction lawsuit was resolved in favor of the landlord. So, for example, suppose that an eviction notice is filed against a renter:
- If 60 days pass and the lawsuit is still pending resolution, the renter’s name and information would not be added to the blacklist;
- If the lawsuit is resolved in favor of the renter, the renter’s name and information would not be added to the blacklist regardless of how long it took for the lawsuit to be resolved; but
- If the lawsuit was resolved in favor of the landlord (and the renter is ordered to be evicted), then the renter’s name and information would be added to the blacklist and remain thereon for up to seven years.
Help for California Tenants
In a landlord-tenant relationship, it can often seem as if the landlord holds power over the tenant (especially in states like California where there are often many more would-be renters than landlords with available rentals. Renters should remember that they do have legal rights (such as those rights created by AB 2819), but these rights must be timely asserted in order to be of any use. There are resources available designed to educate tenants as to their specific legal rights.
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