By Rich Singleton
A bill sponsored by State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) will prohibit landlords from requiring online rent payments only for tenants.
The bill, which was amended to include input from Apartment Industry groups, including AAGLA, then obtained apartment industry support.
It has passed the State Assembly and Senate, and is awaiting Governor Brown to either sign or veto it.
Lieu said he sponsored the legislation after hearing from an 87-year-old constituent who told him she received an eviction notice after refusing to pay her rent online once her landlord began requiring all tenants to pay online.
The 87-year-old woman said her reason for not making online rent payments, considering she has been paying her rent by check for the past three years, was due to having been a victim of identity theft.
Lieu said more and more apartment owners and managers are requiring the use of online rent payments in order to ensure timely payments and cut costs by saving them time and money, it usually takes to collect the rent.
“That struck me as unfair because it had a disparate impact on those who didn’t have an internet connection or didn’t have a computer or didn’t want to pay online because of their own view of privacy,” Lieu said. “It also has a disparate impact on the poor and those who are not familiar with internet payment structures.”
The legislation not only has bi-partisan political support, and the support from apartment industry groups, it also has the backing of tenant advocacy groups.
“We applaud Senator Ted Lieu for introducing this important tenant’s rights legislation to protect renters,” said Larry Gross, with the Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenant advocacy group.
“We believe this rent online scheme is just another way to increase rent-controlled rents by evicting long-term, low-rent tenants, who just happen to be, for the most part, seniors and the disabled. In other words, this affects those who are less likely to have the ability to pay online.”
According to a report from UCLA, the extensive surge in apartment construction throughout the Southern California region as well as other parts of the country has about two-years remaining before it comes to an end.
The report from the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate, said that developers are reacting to the failure of the single-family housing market during the current financial decline.
The economic downturn prompted increased demand for rental units as some homeowners lost their property and potential purchasers withdrew from the unpredictable real estate market.
Numerous investors feel apartment buildings are a reliable, promising and profitable investment opportunity, according to the UCLA report.
The study mentioned that 10-year Treasury bond yields are less than 2%, and that the large investors are looking for superior earning alternatives. Currently soaring rents present the expectation of greater potential revenue and principal appreciation.
“Of course, the boom in multifamily construction will have the seeds of its own destruction,” said David Shulman, a UCLA economist. “As rents rise, consumers will shift out of rental into ownership units.”
The report said that by 2014 quantity of multifamily units will outpace demand for them.
“The American Dream of homeownership may be comatose, but it is not dead,” said Shulman, the UCLA economist. “And the wake-up call will come in the form of higher rents.”