Long Beach requires permits to be issued before "no-fault" eviction notices are filed. Los Angeles follows suit.
The law is always cleaner on the page than it is in real life, so we predicted there would be donut holes in statewide rent caps and eviction controls that went into effect January 1, 2020. We are beginning to see local governments make sense of state law and enact their own ordinances to plug the holes.
Under California law, there are certain instances when a tenant can be transitioned out of the rental unit through no fault of their own, including a “substantial rehabilitation.” Substantial means just that - we are not referring to a paint job or re-sanding a hardwood floor in a living room, or spending money on other veneers.
We are talking about major upgrades as if the property has been burnt down to the ground. Think major electrical upgrades, new HVAC systems and the like.
Assuming the tenants have to be displaced for the landlord to make these substantial remodels, permits must be pulled before the residents are uprooted. The state law says that government building permits must be obtained to prove that the renovations go beyond cosmetic repairs, but AB-1482 is mute on exactly when the during the eviction process those permits must be issued. Long Beach has provided clarity, and Los Angeles is following suit.
First things first
When a rehab necessitates a tenant to vacate the premises for at least 30 days, Long Beach now requires necessary building permits to be in order before issuing eviction notices to tenants in a building that is facing substantial rehabilitation or demolition.
As a sidebar, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to get authorization to demolish a building, so we would not expect demolition to be a viable option except in the rarest of circumstances.
Not only do permits have to be secured before eviction notices are served; Long Beach City Council says copies of the permits must be included in the termination notice, along with “reasonably detailed information” on the scope of the work to be performed and why it can’t be done with the tenant in place. The ordinance also nullifies any eviction notices for substantial rehabilitation or demolition served after January 1, 2020.
In other words, any eviction notices since the New Year that were given under the theory of substantial rehabilitation must begin anew, with copies of permits and essentially describe why the building is a construction zone unfitting for habitation. We haven’t done any research, but we would expect the number of evictions that fall under this category to be a negligible amount.
While we bemoan new regulations for owners, compliance should be relatively easy - it’s not much of a hardship to attach permits to a termination notice. It’s just another layer of steps for owners to take in what is already a massive amount of information to digest for owners in a new regulatory regime.
It’s been said that imitation is the best form of flattery
Not to be outdone, Los Angeles City Council has set the wheels in motion to enact a similar measure modeled after the Long Beach Ordinance. It now falls on the lap of the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that we predict will easily pass.
This is just one of the wrinkles to iron out in newfangled state law, and if you are not familiarized with the provisions of AB-1482, please contact our office.