Sun, May

CA Assemblyman Mike Gatto Wants to Make It Easier to Evict Renters


TENANTS RIGHTS--Democrat Assembly Member Mike Gatto (photo above) represents many tenants in his 43rd Assembly district, which includes East Hollywood, Atwater Village, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Burbank and Glendale. Yet, Assembly Member Gatto has become a landlord lobby front man by introducing legislation that would severely undermine tenants' ability to defend themselves in an eviction action. 

The landlord-backed AB 2312 (Gatto), would gut tenants' rights in an unlawful detainer actions by requiring represented tenants to deposit monthly rent in advance of trial with their attorneys. 

In fact, the landlord group Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles takes full credit for drafting AB 2312 and then giving it to Mike Gatto to introduce it on its behalf. 

AB 2312 is unjust and burdensome to tenants. There is no such requirement on any other group of litigants. The bill singles out tenants as a group and effectively discourages them from defending themselves. 

Many tenants face real barriers in accessing a bewildering legal system due to limited financial resources, limited English proficiency, cultural differences, disabilities, work demands, caregiver responsibilities, and/or lack of transportation options. To add a requirement that a tenant facing eviction be required to deposit the alleged rent owed into escrow adds to these almost-insurmountable burdens, and will create a "pay to play" justice system. 

There are many legitimate reasons why a tenant may not pay the alleged rent owed and will not have it available for deposit. He or she may dispute the amount of rent due because the payment was lost. (Photo right: Assemblyman Gatto.) 

Some tenants do not have checking accounts and pay by money order or cash, so that they no longer have easy proof of the funds once delivered. There are often misunderstandings with landlords over how payments have been applied to the amount owed. Tenants often (legally) pay out of pocket for necessary repairs and deduct such costs from their rent payments. Tenants may also (legally) withhold rent for ongoing habitability problems. 

Despite the myriad legitimate reasons a tenant could dispute the amount of rent claimed by the landlord, this bill would force the tenant to deposit the claimed amount just to get a lawyer. 

AB 2312 would strip many tenants of their right to an attorney, and with it, their ability to defend themselves in speedy, highly confusing eviction proceedings. 

  • ACTION INFO: The Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear this horrible bill on May 3.

We ask that you contact the Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Assembly Member Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), and urge that he do everything that he can to kill this bill.

Tell Assembly Member Stone that you are opposed to AB 2312 and urge they he and other Assembly Judiciary Committee members vote NO!

(Larry Gross is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.)


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