New Legal Hurdles for Residential Landlords

Under proposed legislation, residential landlords would face new hurdles to enforce their right to collect rent from tenants. The bill, SB 5600, would make many sweeping changes to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.

Some of the more important proposed changes include:

o giving the court discretion to relieve a tenant from being evicted
o increasing the cure period for a pay rent or vacate notice from three days to fourteen days
o requiring civil legal aid information be listed on the notice to pay rent or vacate
o limiting the definition of rent so that it excludes late fees and charges
o imposing a month-to-month tenancy at the end of all leases
o requiring documentation for all amounts deducted from a security deposit
o requiring sixty days notice to increase rent
o not allowing eviction for non-payment of any monetary obligation, other than rent
o requiring landlords to apply payments to rent first

In general, if a tenant does not pay rent, or otherwise does not follow the terms of the lease, the landlord may choose to sue the tenant and seek a judgment. The landlord must then try to collect on the judgment through garnishments and similar means. However, many tenants simply have no assets to satisfy judgments.

The only realistic recourse for landlords is to seek to replace a tenant who cannot meet their obligations with a new tenant who is better financially qualified.

This proposed law, and many other proposals now being considered, would make it more burdensome for landlords to enforce their rights.