Complaints from residents prompt renter-protection bill
SACRAMENTO - In response to complaints from residents that more and more landlords are requiring rental payments be made only online, Sen. Ted W. Lieu today announced introduction of a bill that would ensure residents can continuing paying with check or money order.
"A growing number of landlords are no longer accepting checks or money orders from tenants," Lieu, D-Torrance, said about Senate Bill 1055. "Instead, they have begun to change rental agreements to require tenants - including the elderly, disabled and poor - to pay their rent online."
The issue came to light late in 2011 when hundreds of tenants in apartment complexes in L os Angeles objected when the property-management group notified residents of a 300-unit complex that the only way they could soon pay rent was online.
Current law does not specify how rent is to be paid. SB 1055 revises the law to prohibit landlords from requiring online only rental payments.
"Many residents of the rent-controlled complexes are elderly, live on fixed incomes and either have no computer or know little about computers," Lieu said, adding that it was unreasonable to ask renters who may be struggling to make ends meet to invest in a computer, Internet access and related expenses in order to rent a residence.
"We applaud Sen. Ted Lieu for introducing this important tenants'-rights legislation to protect renters," Larry Gross, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Economic Survival said. "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 likely are least able to pay online."
SB 1055 is waiting to be assigned to a policy committee for review, which should occur within the next month.
For more, here's a Fact Sheet on SB 1055.
Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Labor Committee and represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Pedro. For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu