Renters gain 30 days on eviction notices with new law

Renters evicted from apartments through no fault of their own will have an additional month to find a new place to call home under a new state law.

The bill, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Saturday, requires landlords to give tenants a 60-day eviction notice in the event that an owner intends to occupy the unit, extensive work is planned for the building or demolition is in the works. The new law also applies to illegal in-law units and a handful of condominium conversions.

The current law requires a 30-day notice. A nearly identical law was on the books in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and expired at the beginning of this year.

Tenant rights advocates said the extended time period will help evicted renters get on their feet, but landlord groups said the new law is unnecessary. The new law goes into effect Jan. 1 and remains on the books until 2010. Nearly two-thirds of San Francisco residents rent, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The new legislation, known as AB 1169, will help people cope with the stress of being evicted, said Ted Gullicksen, executive director of the Tenants Union.

“Thirty days is unrealistic in being able to find anything” new to rent, Gullicksen said. The extra 30 days will serve as a way to help renters gather up the necessary cash to pay for a new apartment in The City, he added. Attorney Jeff Woo, whose clients are largely landlords, said the legislation makes little sense in today’s rental market, where there is a multitude of apartments available for rent.

“This is not good for landlords,” Woo said. “It’s disappointing he [Schwarzenegger] signed the law.”

The law also poses tricky situations for tenants trying to get rid of an unwanted roommate, Woo said.

“You can’t evict your roommate” for 60 days, Woo said. “If the master tenant leaves, the landlord is stuck with them.”

Richard Hopson, a member of ACORN, one of the groups that advocated for the law, said that election years tend to change politicians’ minds — offering a possible explanation of the Republican governor’s signature on the bill.

Sean Pritchard, a spokesman for the San Francisco Apartment Association, which represents landlords, said with the addition of more rules, fewer and fewer people want to manage rental properties.

“People are getting tired of the business,” Pritchard said.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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