President's Letter

from the April 2019 CCRA news

We are approaching the end of the 2019 Legislative session. We must rally all landlords to contact our legislators. The most effective way is to spend a few minutes face-to-face. Less effective is to place a telephone call. Even leaving a message can be productive. If you can’t do either of the above, send an email or a letter. The least effective way is to do nothing! By doing nothing, we just abdicate our responsibilities to our tenants, our industry and ourselves. We must protect the industry from negative consequences for renters resulting from our legislators’ good intentions.

Two bills that will not help most renters—in spite of the descriptive names of “residential tenant protections” bills—are SB5600 and HB1453. Both extend the 3-day Pay or Vacate window to 14 days! Yes, it gives a renter more time to search for money but the 3-day should rarely be a surprise to the tenant: is the first day of the month a surprise? Is the rent being due on the first a surprise? Have they not had time to make arrangements? I will acknowledge that emergencies can and do happen and on those occasions these bills will potentially give a reliable renter more time to arrange for the rent. However—and this is a big however—the majority of renters will take the additional 11 days as free rent for which it is unlikely the landlord will ever collect.

Another concern of these bills is including what is called “judicial discretion.” That means the judge overseeing the unlawful detainer procedure (eviction) can choose to ignore current Landlord/Tenant Law procedures. The landlord can do everything according to the law and still lose the case. A huge unknown with this law is it does not provide any guidelines whatsoever for the judge. Stop and consider all the possible reasons a renter could give that a judge might use to decide in favor of the renter. Although it’s unlikely but with no guidelines, a judge could offer a renter free court costs, forgive damage repair costs, additional time to pay the rent, or even free rent. Historically we have always been able to ultimately rely on the law, but not if either of these bills passes.

How would a “reasonable” landlord deal with this additional risk? Raise rent? Raise deposits/fees?  Decide the risk is becoming too great and sell out? None of these responses will help the majority of renters.

We need to make sure our legislators understand these negative impacts on affordable rents! And you all know what you need to do: call your legislators!

Be sure to sign up for the CCRA Training Seminar scheduled for April 27. You don’t have much time since the deadline is April 19th. Realistically you should already be registered to ensure seating and lunch.

Make your reservation by the 24th for the April dinner business meeting on the 30th. Brandy Jamieson will be discussing Escrow accounts. You don’t want to miss it!