Let me paint you a picture: you’ve got these tenants - you know, the ones that you’ve been getting the complaints on from the neighbors, the ones where the cops keep coming out to the property - those tenants. They’re no longer paying you rent and maybe because of AB-3088 or whatever reason you go by the property to see what’s happening because you haven’t heard from anybody. You snoop around a little bit on Facebook and you see, oh… they’re up skiing in Mammoth, they’re in Cabo or wherever it may be. You get upset - understandably upset. No one will communicate with you. You don’t know what’s going on. These tenants by the way who are not paying you rent. You’re feeling the stress of this so you change the locks. Nothing happens. You put their stuff in storage or you take their stuff out… You just broke the law.
So, six weeks later when they come back and go and see the locks are changed, you got a problem - and they got an attorney. You got a bigger problem. So, I’m just telling you, this is the environment out there and landlords need to be careful. The environment is not what it used to be.
There’s a new law that’s just been passed in Long Beach called the Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance. There are thirteen laws that now if you break those laws, you’re just not breaking the law, you are harassing the tenant and you will be up for additional civil penalties. The law - the ordinance if you read it, it’s a little complicated and confusing. I’m not an attorney and I’m certainly not giving legal advice but I’ll make an attempt here to say these thirteen rules in common language and boil it down for you.
Let’s try this countdown style…
Number Thirteen: Peace and Tranquility
Commit other repeated acts or omissions of such significance as to substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a rental housing unit and that cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a rental housing unit to vacate such rental housing unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy.
Mike’s Translation: To interfere with the peace and tranquility of your tenants. So, try to resist pulling up in your tenant’s driveway in the middle of the night and honking your horn and flashing your lights every night they’re not paying you rent - that’s harassment.
Number Twelve: Rights to Organize
Interfere with the right of tenants to organize as tenants and engage in concerted activities with other tenants for the purpose of mutual aid and protection; deny property access to tenant organizers, advocates, or representatives working with or on behalf of tenants living at a property; prevent tenant or tenant organization meetings in an appropriate space accessible to tenants.
Mike’s Translation: Interfere with your tenant’s right to organize. So, if they want to use the courtyard to set up an anti-landlord organization, they have the right. Interfering is harassment.
Number Eleven: Misleading Communication
Communicate with a tenant in a language other than the tenant’s primary language for the purpose of intimidating, confusing, deceiving, or annoying the tenant.
Number Ten: Right to Privacy
Violate a tenant’s right to privacy, including without limitation, by requesting information regarding residence or citizenship status, protected class status, or social security number, except for, in the case of social security number, for purposes of obtaining information for the qualifications for a tenancy.
Number Nine: Refusing Lawful Payment
Refuse to acknowledge or accept receipt of a tenant’s lawful rent payment as set forth in a rental agreement, by usual practice of the parties, or in a notice to pay rent or quit; refuse to cash or process a rent check or other form of acceptable rent payment for over thirty (30) days after it is tendered; or fail to maintain a current address for delivery of rent payments.
Number Eight: Providing False Information
Provide false written or verbal information regarding any Federal, State, Country, or local tenant protections including mischaracterizing the nature or effect of a notice to quit or other eviction notice.
Mike’s Translation: Providing any false written or verbal information regarding their protection such as have them sign an agreement - a payment agreement - and tell them that they’re required to by the law to sign when they’re not.
Number Seven: Terminating Tenancy
Take action to terminate any tenancy, including service of any notice to quit or other eviction notice, or bring any action to recover possession of a rental housing unit, based upon facts which owner has no reasonable cause to believe to be true or upon a legal theory which is untenable under the facts known to the owner.
Mike’s Translation: It is illegal to terminate tenancy based on facts which the landlord knows are not true.
Number Six: Discrimination Laws
Violate any law which prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, sexual preference, sexual orientation, ethnic background, nationality, religion, age, parenthood, marriage, pregnancy, disability, human inmmunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), occupancy by a minor child, or source of income.
Mike’s Translation: It is illegal to violate any law which prohibits discrimination - and this is for any protected class including family size and source of income.
Number Five: Threatening a Tenant
Threaten a tenant, by word or gesture, with physical harm, or abuse the tenant with words, either orally or in writing, which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.
Number Four: Influencing Vacancy
Influence or attempt to influence a tenant to vacate a rental housing unit through fraud, misrepresentation, intimidation, coercion, which shall include threatening to report a tenant to the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Number Three: Right of Access
Abuse the right of access into a rental housing unit as established by California Civil Code Section 1954 or other applicable law. Such abuse includes, without limitation, entries for inspections that are not related to necessary repairs or services; entries excessive in number; entries or demands for entry at times outside normal business hours; and entries contrary to a tenant’s reasonable request.
Mike’s Translation: It is illegal to abuse the right of access. Entry for inspections other than necessary repairs or services are illegal so you can’t keep just showing up for surprise inspections.
Number Two: Failure of Repairs
Fail to timely perform repairs and maintenance required by a rental agreement or by Federal, State, County or local housing, health safety laws; fail to exercise due diligence in completing such repairs once undertaken; fail to follow appropriate industry repair, containment, or remediation protocols.
Number One: Rental Agreement
Interrupt, terminate, or fail to provide housing services required by a rental agreement or by Federal, State, County, or local housing, health, or safety laws, or threaten to do so, or violate or threaten to violate California Civil Code Section 789.3.
Mike’s Translation: Fail to provide the housing services you agreed to provide in your rental agreement (i.e., utilities shutoffs, and illegal lockouts) - that’s harassment.
So, like many municipalities, Long Beach is setting the tone that landlords need to take these protections seriously. It’s a lot - I get it. If this is something that you don’t want to mess with, I don’t blame you. I suggest you hire a property management company like the Mike Dunfee Group to help take care of the property for you. This is what we do all day, every day. We have the expertise, we have the people, we have the systems already in place to help protect you from falling short on ordinances just like this.
If you’re a landlord who is trying to better understand the Long Beach Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance or are tired of taking care of your property and want your property to start taking care of you instead, please reach out to us here at the Mike Dunfee Group. We are more than happy to talk to you and get the conversation started.
Dunfee Real Estate Services, Inc.