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CAA Webinar Spotlight: Why new laws keep tilting in favor of tenants

CAA Marketing and Communications Director

It’s a question that persistently puzzles California landlords: Why does the state Legislature keep coming at the industry with new landlord-tenant laws, and why do they seem so consistently beneficial for renters while detrimental to housing providers? This was one of the many issues tackled at the California Apartment Association’s statewide Year-End webinar, now available on demand.

The panel discussion, led by association CEO Tom Bannon, explored the demographic and political dynamics at play in California, where changes in the renter population have been mirrored by a legislative body growing increasingly progressive.

Demographic changes and political shifts

As California’s renter population has swelled over the past 20 to 25 years, so too has the proportion of Democrats within the state Legislature. This simultaneous shift has not gone unnoticed, with many landlords expressing concerns over the increasing number of tenant-friendly laws being passed. CAA’s webinar provided a platform to address these concerns, with Debra Carlton, executive vice president, state public affairs, presenting data that showcased a legislative body comprising 62 Democrats to 18 Republicans in the Assembly and a supermajority of 32 Democrats in the Senate for the 2023-2024 session. Such a majority, Carlton said, significantly affects the types of laws introduced and passed, often tilting in favor of tenants while at the expense of housing providers.

Renters’ rising influence on policy

Joshua Howard, executive vice president, local public affairs, brought to light the fact that in cities like Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco, renters make up more than 60% of the population, a supermajority that has a profound influence on local politics, impacting who gets elected to City Council and how council members respond to their constituents.

“They begin to hear more about issues around affordable housing, issues around rental housing,” Howard said, indicating that the needs of renters are increasingly dictating the political discourse, particularly in urban locales where their numbers are most dominant.

New laws and ballot measure

While discussing the demographic shift toward a more renter-centric population and its implications for policymaking, CAA reaffirmed its nonpartisan stance and commitment to working on both sides of the aisle in its advocacy work. The webinar also reviewed new rental housing laws taking effect in 2024, including legislation setting new limits on security deposits, changing eviction procedures, and giving tenants the right to store e-bikes and e-scooters in their units.

The panel also reminded the industry of a ballot measure that’s qualified for the 2024 statewide election that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, California’s law placing limits on local rent control ordinances.

In addition to CAA’s statewide Year-End webinar, the association produced a pair of city-specific sessions for Los Angeles and San Diego. These not only cover new state laws but address unique local challenges in California’s two largest cities. Click the button below to learn more about accessing these webinars, which are free for members and temporarily available at a discounted rate for nonmembers.

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