Suzanne Potter / California News Service
SACRAMENTO – Tenants’ rights advocates are celebrating after Assemblyman Mike Gatto killed his controversial bill about evictions, just ahead of a scheduled vote on Tuesday in the California Legislature’s Assembly Judiciary Committee.
The legislation would have forced renters who are contesting an eviction to deposit their monthly rent in an account with an attorney. Assembly Bill 2312 would guarantee that money is set aside to pay the landlord while the trial proceeds.
Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, a nonprofit advocacy group, claims the bill introduced by Gatto was actually written by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.
“It will make it more difficult for tenants to defend themselves against evictions,” said Gross. “It sort of sets up a ‘pay-for-play’ situation.”
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles said the bill simply would require residents to post unpaid rent as a good-faith pledge to end the dispute quickly.
Gatto’s office says the bill is dead and will not be reintroduced. Today’s committee hearing was to have been the first for this legislation at the State Capitol.
Gross called the bill unjust. He said 90 percent of tenants don’t have an attorney and could have a hard time finding one willing to set up the necessary account. He pointed out that the amount they’d be required to put in a separate trust account might also be part of the dispute.
“Tenants regularly dispute how much they owe,” Gross said. “So, a landlord could be claiming a much higher amount that the tenant would be required to deposit with the attorney before they could be defended in court.”
He added there is no similar requirement for other types of legal procedures.