Brown and Schwab want to take away your property rights

13 Jul

Part of the Big Lie being perpetuated by city of Chico council members and $taff is all these poor folks being “squeezed out” of housing because greedy landlords want to sell their rentals. Councillor Ann Schwab and Vice Mayor Alex Brown have brought up the subject of rent control. They call it, “eviction for good cause”. 

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/displacements-continue/content?oid=28403226

“At the council’s July 2 meeting, the panel considered Schwab’s original proposal. In general, an eviction for good cause ordinance requires landlords to prove there is a “good cause” to terminate a lease, such as a tenant failing to pay rent or damaging property, or the landlord needing to make substantial repairs or move into the property. Some require landlords to provide tenants with financial assistance to relocate.”

Do they mean “eviction” or “termination of the lease”? These are very different terms, legally, but Brown, Schwab, and now the press, continue to use the words interchangeably.

FROM pocketsense.com  –  When a landlord or tenant decides to terminate (or not renew) a lease or rental agreement, state law often requires one party to give written notice of his decision to the other party. This is sometimes known as a “notice to terminate”. An eviction is a legal proceeding in which a landlord asks a court to order the tenant to leave the property.

Yes there’s a big difference between “eviction” and “termination.” An eviction comes out on your court records. Forever. It’s called “unlawful detainer“. Here’s more information from Nolo Press.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/the-eviction-process-california-rules-landlords-property-managers.html

 Before evicting a tenant, California law requires a landlord to legally terminate the tenancy. To do this, the landlord must first give the tenant written notice, as specified by state law. If the tenant does not move out or fix bad behavior—for example, by paying the rent or finding a new home for the dog (when the lease prohibits pets)—then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit (also called an unlawful detainer suit). For serious lease violations, the landlord does not need to give the tenant the option of correcting the problem behavior.  California law gives exact requirements to end a tenancy, with different types of termination notices and procedures required for different types of situations. 

Furthermore, “If a tenant has a month-to-month rental agreement and has lived in the rental unit for less than one year, then a landlord must give the tenant a written 30-day notice to end the tenancy. If the tenant has lived in the rental unit for over one year and is month-to-month, then the landlord must give the tenant a written 60-day notice to end the tenancy. Both notices must inform the tenant that the tenancy will expire at the end of the notice period and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time (see Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § § 1946 and 1946.1).”

So, landlords are already held to strict rules, and tenants can take their landlords to court if they violate any of these rules. I don’t see any reason to make such an ordinance for Chico. Proponents of this ordinance, mostly Brown and Schwab, have claimed they’ve heard from people who’ve been “evicted” by greedy landlords who wanted to sell their houses in the aftermath of the Camp Fire.  But Alex Brown, who has made this claim repeatedly since the Camp Fire, has not offered any names. So the News and Review plopped out this little story.

“After the Camp Fire, Chris Singleton and his two roommates invited a family who’d lost their home in Paradise to live with them for several months. That family found a home in Magalia in the spring and soon may be returning the favor.  Now, Singleton is losing his home in southwest Chico, too: His landlords want to sell. He’s been there for more than three years and has to be out by July 31.”

Wow, where’s the crime here? Did his landlord give him 60 days, as required  by law? Here’s a better question – did he have his landlord’s permission to let “a family” move into his rental? Because if he didn’t, it’s legal for his landlord to give him a 3 day notice to get them out or have his lease terminated (which is followed by a 30 – 60 day notice period).  

Three-Day Unconditional Quit Notice: This type of notice is given to the tenant if the tenant commits specific, serious violations. The notice informs the tenant that the tenant must move out of the rental unit within three days of receiving the notice. The tenant is not allowed any time to fix the violation, and if the tenant does not move out within three days, the landlord can go to court to file an eviction lawsuit. The landlord can use a three-day unconditional quit notice only in the following situations:

  • the tenant has assigned or sublet the rental unit in violation of the lease or rental agreement
  • the tenant has caused substantial damage to the property
  • the tenant has permitted or created a nuisance at the rental unit, or
  • the tenant has been involved in illegal activity on the premises of the rental unit.

Most leases have a clause that says nobody is allowed to move in without written permission of the landlord. Also a clause that says no overnight guests for more than 10 days in a 60 day period. Why? Because a landlord has a right to know who is living in their property.

I’ve had many applicants fill out applications and lie about the number and identity of others that will live with them. An applicant even has to list minor children on a legal application, even though the landlord is not allowed to reject families with children. And, while a landlord is not allowed to restrict the number of tenants per room or rental, the landlord is still allowed to require the tenants to fully disclose who will live there on the application.

Here’s a reason right off the top of my head – landlords are supposed to do background checks on prospects, and my neighbors appreciate that. You might have to rent to a registered sex offender, but you’re supposed to know that. But when his or her friends rent a place and then just let the sex offender move in, who would know?

Here’s another reason – parking. Too many cars is one of the top causes of fighting and neighbor complaints.  And then there’s damage – who gets the bill, when you don’t even know who lived there? 

I have found, most applicants who lie about that have prospective roommates who for one reason or another have a bad rental history, and they’re afraid the prospective landlord won’t rent to them. Well, that’s a landlord’s right under California law, and why not? Why rent a house to somebody who has a record of refusing to pay rent or failure to respect a legal document after signing their name to it? 

We have corporate landlords in town, and they ALWAYS have vacancies. Corporate landlords can afford dead beats, Mom and Pop can’t. While I know there are predatory landlords in town, they are breaking laws that just need to be enforced, like keeping deposits without proper billing.  That’s a big scam in the Chico corporate rental market  – why doesn’t the city enforce the current laws?

Because scare tactics are always a good campaign tactic. Brown and Schwab are trying to get the college student vote – never too early to campaign. A local campaign consultant once told me he’d “run the numbers,” available through the county clerk’s office, and while a very small percentage of local college students are registered to vote (meaning, they put “student” as their occupation), there are usually more than enough to throw a council election. At that time my friend reported to me that a little over 600 hundred “students” were registered to vote in Chico. Yep, more than one council election has been determined by less than 600 votes.

And then there’s the local crowd of “feel good” liberals, among whom words speak louder than actions.

The scare tactic they are trying to run is that Chico doesn’t have “enough affordable housing.” That is a crock of shit, take a whiff. Look around you – new apartments, new apartments, new apartments. Including the “luxury” apartments being built at Cal Park, and some pretty high end apartments over on Nord (rented by the bedroom, at $700 a room). Gee, if city council so worried about “affordability,” why do they keep permitting “luxury apartments”? Because they want the property taxes, you silly moose!

The department of numbers says we have so much housing our vacancy rate is actually increasing.

https://www.deptofnumbers.com/rent/california/chico/

Chico vacancy has more than tripled since 2006 and is more than double California vacancy rate. I realize there was a short-lived frenzy after the Camp Fire, but that is over. In fact, our vacancy rate has increase almost 2% over the last few years, to over 7%. That means 7 of 100 landlords have empty rentals, while they still have to pay mortgages, taxes, and upkeep.

While rentals here in Chico have always been more expensive than the county, we also have more a lot more to offer here than the rest of the county. People are always willing to pay more for services, like retail centers, nearby schools, public transportation, and silly stuff like sewer, water and garbage service.

The Department of Numbers also reports that Chico’s average rent is not only consistent with the US average but considerably lower than the average for all of California. 

I’ll admit, these are 2017 numbers. There are no more recent numbers. So where do Schwab and Brown get their information? Why don’t you ask them for names? Communications with council members are supposed to be public information. 

For some reason, council unanimously agreed to have the city attorney research and draw up a draft of an ordinance that basically strips landlords of their property rights.  Check out some of these doozies from around the country:

https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=E211US105G0&p=good+cause+ordinance

It seems these ordinances are usually backed with claims of “unscrupulous landlords” – but the behavior they describe is already covered by California law. For example, the mayor of Philadelphia says, “This Good Cause bill strengthens the Fair Housing Ordinance and will keep unscrupulous landlords from committing unfair rental practices and terminating leases simply because tenants request necessary repairs.” 

Let’s talk FACTS for a minute. Eviction or illegally terminating a lease because you don’t want to make repairs is against the law, especially if the items were in working condition, or if the landlord promised to fix them in writing, when the tenants moved in. All a tenant needs to stop a termination of lease is a record of written complaints about the items in question.

A fellow we met once told my husband and I a funny story – he had rented from infamous Chico landlord Mike Campos. Campos is a tough old bastard, but he knows the law. This fellow admitted, he and his friends had spent all their money “partying”, and were unable to come up with the rent for the month. They decided to complain about a faucet that had been leaking for weeks, telling Campos they were withholding the rent until the faucet was fixed.

That isn’t legal, they had no record of any written complaint, you’re only allowed to withhold rent when the landlord knows about but refuses or fails to fix the problem within a certain amount of time. They were shocked when Campos showed up that day, tool belt on, and demanded to be shown the leaky faucet. Fixing it within minutes, he then demanded the rent, which they had to admit they  didn’t have. I had to laugh – Campos was our neighbor for years, we knew his kids, and we would never have pulled such a stunt on that cranky old bastard.

Schwab and Brown are looking for a feel good measure that will help them get re-elected. That sounds harmless, but more cities across the country are passing these ordinances. This would have a major negative impact on the housing market in Chico. Just think – Mom and Pop selling out, rentals all over town being converted to owner occupied. Is that the kind of “help” renters need?

Contact Alex Brown at alex.brown@chicoca.com, and Ann Schwab at ann.schwab@chicoca.com, and tell them what you think of this ordinance. 

5 Responses to “Brown and Schwab want to take away your property rights”

  1. Rob July 13, 2019 at 11:16 am #

    Juanita, I agree, town has calmed down dramatically since the Camp Fire evacuation. I know there are vacancies because my grandson just came to town to attend Chico State, and he and his roommate found a new apartment over on Cedar for a little over $900. They each have their own bathroom, it’s a “sweet pad”, for less than $500 each. They don’t have to pay garbage or water, and may even get free internet, I’m not sure.

    I see new apartments going in on Forest Ave, not sure what they will rent for, but am certain this is a positive for the housing situation here. But, I’m not so sure it will be a positive for the traffic situation, they don’t seem to be too concerned about that when they permit these projects. I saw the city has lowered the requirements for parking spaces for new residential construction, that’s going to come back on us in the very near future. Seems like the planning department has learned nothing from the struggles of the big cities.

    • Juanita Sumner July 13, 2019 at 11:25 am #

      Thanks Rob, I found quite a few listings for available apartments in a quick search of sites like Trulia and realtor.com . Some seemed expensive, but I saw nice two-bedrooms for $1100 or less. If my part-time employed son can afford it, I think most working singles could. And I’m glad to see more two-bedrooms being built – as a landlord, I found more than two singles living together had a hard time getting along for more than a few months, even with spacious living quarters. Sharing rent, bills, parking, and ESPECIALLY cleaning chores will bring a group of “friends” to each other’s throats pretty quick. Not to mention guests.

      But, like you say, I expect Hwy 32 east to have a lot of problems within the next few years from the various high-density projects being built around Cal Park and the Forest Avenue Corridor.

  2. bob July 14, 2019 at 2:05 pm #

    More reasons to say NO to a sales tax increase. This should be obvious especially to the politicians. And actually Walker-Pye understates the problem as in many cities total sales tax is now 10% or over. But she’s right in the sense that sales taxes have gone wild.


    Cassandra Walker-Pye, a former adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the founder of 3.14 Communications, criticized what she called “Sales Taxes Gone Wild.”

    “Californians pay… the highest sales tax (7.25 percent) in the nation. Local governments are allowed to levy additional sales and use taxes… meaning some of us pay over 9 (percent) in total sales tax,” said Walker-Pye, who warned of efforts to lower the threshold for additional local sales tax increases. “This strikes me as a serious threat for middle income Californians and those who are living at the margins.”

    https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/opinion-influencers/article232546557.html

    • Juanita Sumner July 14, 2019 at 2:56 pm #

      Yeah, the hypocrisy in Chico – so much concern for the “homeless ” – but let’s raise the sales tax!

      • bob July 14, 2019 at 5:52 pm #

        Not one member of the City Council is against a sales tax increase.

        And I’m sure they must know exactly what Walker-Pye is talking about.
        But they don’t care.

        All they care about is taking more money for the special interests and of course they insist on more money for those ridiculous and unsustainable pensions.

        These people don’t represent us, only the special interests!

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