MIL-OSI USA: Attorney General Bonta Secures Settlement with Yuba County Landlords and Property Management Company for Unlawful Tenant Evictions

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Source: US State of California

Reiterates the need for all landlords and property managers to comply with the Tenant Protection Act

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a settlement against two individual landlords and their property management company, Bosanek Enterpises (doing business as Heritage Property Management Services), to resolve allegations that they violated California’s Tenant Protection Act (TPA) by unlawfully evicting tenants in Marysville. Co-authored by Attorney General Bonta during his time as a state assemblymember, the TPA was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. It created significant statewide protections for most tenants, including by limiting rent increases and prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants without just cause. Effective as of April 1, 2024, Senate Bill 567 (SB 567) strengthened the TPA’s protections, created new remedies for violations, and gave city attorneys and county counsel express authority to enforce the TPA directly. As part of today’s settlement, the defendants will pay a total of $40,500, including $36,500 in restitution to the three affected tenants, and be required to take specific actions to ensure compliance with the TPA. 

“Millions of Californians are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Today’s settlement underscores my office’s ongoing commitment to protecting renters, and I want to thank California Rural Legal Assistance for providing assistance in this matter,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We will continue to investigate and pursue violations of the Tenant Protection Act when appropriate. I urge local enforcers, including city attorneys and county counsel throughout the state, to do the same.”  

After receiving a credible complaint from California Rural Legal Assistance about a potentially unlawful eviction, the California Department of Justice launched an investigation into the landlords and Heritage Property Management Services. The investigation revealed that one landlord issued a pretextual eviction notice, claiming just cause to evict because the landlord’s uncle intended to move into the unit. However, under the TPA, landlords cannot evict tenants to move in relatives other than those specified in the law (owner’s spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent, or grandparent), and an uncle is not a qualifying relative. Additionally, no relative ever moved in, and the unit was rented to a new tenant at a large increase from the original rental rate. 

The investigation also revealed that a second landlord, working with the same property management company, issued two eviction notices claiming just cause because the landlord was undertaking a “substantial remodel” of the units. To qualify as a substantial remodel that justifies eviction under the TPA, work must be the “replacement or substantial modification of any structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical system that requires a permit from a governmental agency,” or the abatement of hazardous materials, that requires the tenant to vacate the unit for at least 30 consecutive days to be performed safely. However, the remodeling work performed did not rise to the level required under the TPA to evict a tenant. The landlord subsequently substantially raised rents in the two affected units.  

Under today’s settlement, which remains subject to court approval, the defendants will:

  • Pay $36,500 in restitution to the three affected tenants.
  • Pay $4,000 in penalties.
  • Be subject to injunctive terms designed to ensure that no misconduct recurs, including by imposing reporting and documentation obligations on all defendants and additionally requiring the property management company to train its employees on state rental housing laws and to take steps to ensure the adequacy of future no-fault evictions.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to enforcing the TPA. On February 28, 2024, he secured a settlement with two Bakersfield landlords and their property management company to resolve allegations that they violated the TPA and the Fair Employment Housing Act by unlawfully evicting tenants, raising rents, and discriminating against tenants based on their receipt of housing assistance benefits. On January 8, 2024, he secured a settlement with Invitation Homes to resolve allegations that the company violated the TPA and California’s price-gouging law by unlawfully increasing rents on approximately 1,900 homes. On June 14, 2023, he secured a settlement with Green Valley Corporation to resolve allegations that the company violated the TPA by issuing unlawful rent increases to several of its employee tenants and serving unlawful eviction notices to a subset of those tenants. On May 22, 2024, he issued an information bulletin to city attorneys and county counsel, notifying them of SB 567’s strengthened protections to the TPA and of their direct enforcement authority under the recently amended TPA. Earlier this year, he issued alerts advising California tenants, landlords, and property managers of their rights and obligations under state law. 

The Housing Justice Team at the California Department of Justice reminds Californians that they can send complaints or tips related to housing to housing@doj.ca.gov. Tenants who need legal help can find legal aid resources in their area at www.LawHelpCA.org. A copy of the complaints and proposed judgments for all three defendants are available here: 1a1b2a2b3a3b.

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