BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                            Senator Loni Hancock, Chair              A
                             2013-2014 Regular Session               B

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          AB 1513 (Fox)                                              3
          As Amended May 6, 2014 
          Hearing date:  June 24, 2014 
          Penal Code
          JM:mc

                             TRESPASS IN VACANT RESIDENCES:

                    PILOT PROJECT FOR EXPEDITED POLICE EVICTIONS  


                                       HISTORY


          Source:  California Association of Realtors

          Prior Legislation:AB 668 (Lieu) - Ch. 531, Stats. 2010
                         AB 1800 (Ma) - Ch. 580, Stats. 2010
                         AB 924 (Maldonado) - Ch. 101, Stats. 2003
                         SB 993 (Poochigian) - Ch. 805, Stats. 2003
                         SB 1486 (Schiff) - Ch. 563, Stats. 2000

          Support:  California Police Chiefs Association; Southwest  
                    California Legislative Council; San Diego County  
                    Apartment Association; Contra Costa Association of  
                    Realtors; Orange County Association of Realtors

          Opposition:Western Center on Law and Poverty (unless amended);  
                    Legal Services for Prisoners with Children; California  
                    Public Defenders Association

          Assembly Floor Vote:  Ayes 68 - Noes 3





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                                        KEY ISSUE
           
          SHOULD A 3-YEAR PILOT PROJECT BE IMPLEMENTED IN THE CITIES OF  
          PALMDALE AND LANCASTER REGARDING TRESPASS ON VACANT REAL PROPERTY,  
          AS SPECIFIED?   

          SHOULD VIOLATORS OF "TRESPASS" UNDER THIS PILOT BE SUBJECT TO A  
          MISDEMEANOR PROSECUTION?




                                       PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to enact a 3-year pilot project in  
          Palmdale and Lancaster to provide an alternative eviction and  
          trespass process available for absent owners of certain  
          residential properties, as specified.

           Existing law  provides that every person other than a public  
          officer or employee acting within the course and scope of his or  
          her employment in performance of a duty imposed by law, who  
          enters or remains in any noncommercial dwelling house,  
          apartment, or other residential place without consent of the  
          owner, his or her agent, or the person in lawful possession  
          thereof, is guilty of a misdemeanor.  (Pen. Code  602.5, subd.  
          (a).)

           Existing law  provides that every person using or procuring,  
          encouraging or assisting another to use, any force or violence  
          in entering upon or detaining any lands or other possessions of  
          another, except in the cases and in the manner allowed by law,  
          is guilty of a misdemeanor.  (Pen. Code  418.)

           Existing law  provides, generally, that whenever any person is  
          arrested by a peace officer for a misdemeanor, that person shall  
          be cited and released unless at least one of several criteria  




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          are met justifying non-release.  (Pen. Code  853.6, subd. (i).)

           Existing law  provides that a person is guilty of a forcible  
          detainer who either (1) by force, or by menaces and threats of  
          violence, unlawfully holds and keeps the possession of any real  
          property, whether the same was acquired peaceably or otherwise;  
          or (2) who, in the night-time, or during the absence of the  
          occupant of any lands, unlawfully enters upon real property, and  
          who, after demand made for the surrender thereof, for the period  
          of five days, refuses to surrender the same to such former  
          occupant.  (Code of Civ. Proc.  1160.)



           Existing law  provides the statutory requirements for unlawful  
          detainer, a summary proceeding the primary purpose of which is  
          to determine right to possession of real property.  (Code of  
          Civ. Proc.  1161 et seq.)

           Existing law  provides that a former owner of a foreclosed  
          property who holds over and remains in the property after it has  
          been sold through foreclosure may be removed after a three-day  
          notice to quit has been served.  (Code of Civ. Proc.  1161a.) 

           Existing law  requires a tenant or subtenant in possession of a  
          rental housing unit under a month-to-month lease or periodic  
          tenancy at the time the property is sold in foreclosure to be  
          given 90 days' written notice to quit before the tenant or  
          subtenant may be removed from the property as prescribed.  (Code  
          of Civ. Proc.  1161b, subd. (a).)

           Existing law  provides that the purchaser or successor in  
          interest shall bear the burden of proof in establishing that  
          tenants or subtenants holding possession of a rental housing  
          unit under a fixed-term residential lease entered into before  
          transfer of title at the foreclosure sale do not have the right  
          to possession until the end of the lease term.  (Code of Civ.  
          Proc.  1161b, subd. (b)-(c).)





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           Existing law  provides that, in an action for unlawful detainer  
          resulting from a foreclosure sale of a rental housing unit, a  
          tenant may file a prejudgment claim of right of possession at  
          any time before judgment or to object to enforcement of a  
          judgment for possession whether or not the tenant was served  
          with the claim of right to possession.  (Code of Civ. Proc.   
          415.46, subd. (e)(2).)

           This bill  authorizes the owner of vacant real property, or his  
          agent, to register vacant property with the local police agency  
          using a specified form.

           This bill  authorizes the owner or his agent to execute a  
          "Declaration of Ownership," worded as specified or in  
          substantially similar language, and file it with the district  
          attorney of the jurisdiction in which the property is located.   
          The owner shall post the declaration on the property listed in  
          the declaration if he or she files it with the district  
          attorney.

           This bill  requires the registration form to be signed under  
          penalty of perjury and state that the property is vacant and is  
          no person is authorized to be occupied the residence.

           This bill  requires the registration to be accompanied by a  
          statement providing the name, address and telephone number at  
          which the owner can be contacted within a twenty-four hour  
          period, and a statement that either the police agency or a  
          licensed private security services company has been retained to  
          comply with specified inspection and reporting provisions,  
          together with a copy of any agreement or contract to perform  
          such services.

           This bill  requires the owner or the owner's agent to register  
          the vacant property no later than three days after learning that  
          the property is vacant.

           This bill  requires the owner or owner's agent, immediately after  
          authorizing a person to occupy the vacant property, to issue a  




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          written authorization to the person authorized to occupy the  
          property and notify the police agency where the property is  
          registered and terminate the registration.

           This bill  requires a licensed private security services company  
          or police agency retained by the owner or owner's agent to  
          inspect the vacant property not less than once every three days,  
          and immediately notify the police agency with which the property  
          is registered if any unauthorized person is found on the  
          property.

           This bill  requires the police agency where the property is  
          registered to respond to the property as soon as practicable  
          after being notified by the licensed security business that an  
          unauthorized person is found on the property.  The responding  
          officer shall also do all of the following:

                 Verify that the property was inspected at least three  
               days prior and found to be vacant by the licensed security  
               business or police agency.
                 Ascertain the identity of any persons found on the  
               property.
                 Require the production of written authorization to be on  
               the property.
                 Advise any person who does not produce written  
               authorization that the person has forty-eight hours to  
               obtain written authorization from the owner of the  
               property, or the owner's agent, to be on the property, and  
               that the person will be subject to arrest for trespass  
               subsequently found on the property without such  
               authorization.
                 Verify with the owner or the owner's agent that the  
               property is vacant.                                          


           This bill  provides that any person found on vacant property not  
          less than forty-eight hours after receiving the above warning  
          notification is guilty of trespass and, upon conviction, is  
          subject to imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year,  




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          or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or  
          both.

           This bill  provides that the arrest of a person and removal of  
          personal property under this act is not a forcible entry under  
          Section 1159 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

           This bill  provides that this act shall not be construed to limit  
          a property owner for seeking other legal remedies to have a  
          person removed from the vacant property pursuant to any other  
          law.

           This bill  provides that the local city council or board of  
          supervisors shall establish fees for registering a vacant  
          property with the local police agency and for the conduct of  
          inspections by the police agency pursuant to this bill.

            This bill  finds and declares the following:

                 The practice of squatting on vacant property is a public  
               nuisance and is detrimental to the health, safety, and  
               economy of local communities and to the rights of real  
               property owners. 
                 The intent of this section is to provide a means to  
               deter squatting at an early stage and to provide a second  
               chance for squatters to vacate the premises in lieu of  
               arrest. 
                 This act is not to be an abridgment of other statutes  
               relating to trespass or civil eviction proceedings.

          This bill  limits application of these provisions to residential  
          property consisting of one to four units, located in the cities  
          of Palmdale and Lancaster, in Los Angeles County.

           This bill  establishes a sunset date of January 1, 2018, for  
          these provisions.

                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION





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          For the last several years, severe overcrowding in California's  
          prisons has been the focus of evolving and expensive litigation  
          relating to conditions of confinement.  On May 23, 2011, the  
          United States Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its  
          prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity within two  
          years from the date of its ruling, subject to the right of the  
          state to seek modifications in appropriate circumstances.   

          Beginning in early 2007, Senate leadership initiated a policy to  
          hold legislative proposals which could further aggravate the  
          prison overcrowding crisis through new or expanded felony  
          prosecutions.  Under the resulting policy, known as "ROCA"  
          (which stands for "Receivership/ Overcrowding Crisis  
          Aggravation"), the Committee held measures that created a new  
          felony, expanded the scope or penalty of an existing felony, or  
          otherwise increased the application of a felony in a manner  
          which could exacerbate the prison overcrowding crisis.  Under  
          these principles, ROCA was applied as a content-neutral,  
          provisional measure necessary to ensure that the Legislature did  
          not erode progress towards reducing prison overcrowding by  
          passing legislation, which would increase the prison population.  
            

          In January of 2013, just over a year after the enactment of the  
          historic Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, the State of  
          California filed court documents seeking to vacate or modify the  
          federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison  
          population to 137.5 percent of design capacity.  The State  
          submitted that the, ". . .  population in the State's 33 prisons  
          has been reduced by over 24,000 inmates since October 2011 when  
          public safety realignment went into effect, by more than 36,000  
          inmates compared to the 2008 population . . . , and by nearly  
          42,000 inmates since 2006 . . . ."  Plaintiffs opposed the  
          state's motion, arguing that, "California prisons, which  
          currently average 150% of capacity, and reach as high as 185% of  
          capacity at one prison, continue to deliver health care that is  
          constitutionally deficient."  In an order dated January 29,  
          2013, the federal court granted the state a six-month extension  
          to achieve the 137.5 % inmate population cap by December 31,  




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          2013.  

          The Three-Judge Court then ordered, on April 11, 2013, the state  
          of California to "immediately take all steps necessary to comply  
          with this Court's . . . Order . . . requiring defendants to  
          reduce overall prison population to 137.5% design capacity by  
          December 31, 2013."  On September 16, 2013, the State asked the  
          Court to extend that deadline to December 31, 2016.  In  
          response, the Court extended the deadline first to January 27,  
          2014 and then February 24, 2014, and ordered the parties to  
          enter into a meet-and-confer process to "explore how defendants  
          can comply with this Court's June 20, 2013 Order, including  
          means and dates by which such compliance can be expedited or  
          accomplished and how this Court can ensure a durable solution to  
          the prison crowding problem."

          The parties were not able to reach an agreement during the  
          meet-and-confer process.  As a result, the Court ordered  
          briefing on the State's requested extension and, on February 10,  
          2014, issued an order extending the deadline to reduce the  
          in-state adult institution population to 137.5% design capacity  
          to February 28, 2016.  The order requires the state to meet the  
          following interim and final population reduction benchmarks:

                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and
                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          If a benchmark is missed the Compliance Officer (a position  
          created by the February 10, 2016 order) can order the release of  
          inmates to bring the State into compliance with that benchmark.   


          In a status report to the Court dated May 15, 2014, the state  
          reported that as of May 14, 2014, 116,428 inmates were housed in  
          the State's 34 adult institutions, which amounts to 140.8% of  
          design bed capacity, and 8,650 inmates were housed in  
          out-of-state facilities.   





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          The ongoing prison overcrowding litigation indicates that prison  
          capacity and related issues concerning conditions of confinement  
          remain unresolved.  While real gains in reducing the prison  
          population have been made, even greater reductions may be  
          required to meet the orders of the federal court.  Therefore,  
          the Committee's consideration of ROCA bills -bills that may  
          impact the prison population - will be informed by the following  
          questions:

                 Whether a measure erodes realignment and impacts the  
               prison population;
                 Whether a measure addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
                 Whether a bill corrects a constitutional infirmity or  
               legislative drafting error; 
                 Whether a measure proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy; and,
                 Whether a bill addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy.

                                      COMMENTS

          1.  Need for this Bill  

          According to the author:

               AB 1513 provides local law enforcement officials the  
               authority to require unlawfully occupied residential  
               properties to be vacated. There is currently no state  
               law that provides local government officials with  
               specific tools they need to combat unlawful occupancy  
               of residences by squatters. There is a rise in the  
               number of properties that are unlawfully occupied by  
               such individuals. The practice is becoming so  
               pervasive that there are now websites on the internet  
               that are providing "how to" guidelines for squatting  




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               on residential properties. 

               Unlawful Detainer laws are not specifically designed to  
               provide law enforcement officials the tools they need to  
               assist owners of residential real property in their  
               efforts to remove, or prevent occupancy by squatters on  
               vacant properties. It is clear that under California law  
               it can take a minimum of 30-60 days to evict a  
               sophisticated squatter. AB 1513 will provide a definitive  
               remedy for owners of residences in California that have  
               been taken over by squatters.

          2.  Supporters' Description of the Proposed Pilot Program Defined  
            by this Bill  

          The bill outlines a pilot project to allow property owners to  
          declare property to be vacant, register it with local law  
          enforcement, and gain expedited ejection of trespassers.   
          Trespassers who do not vacate the property within 48 hours have  
          committed a misdemeanor.  The bill requires regular inspection  
          of the property at three day intervals by a private security  
          entity to confirm that the residence has remained vacant since  
          the date of registration.

          The bill includes a statement of intent to deter squatting at an  
          early stage and provide a second chance for squatters to vacate  
          the premises in lieu of arrest.  Further, the bill is not  
          intended to abridge or replace other statutes relating to  
          trespass or civil eviction proceedings.  

          The property owner registering the property under this program  
          must provide a phone number he can be reached at within a  
          24-hour period, which is intended to enable law enforcement to  
          quickly contact the owner should unauthorized occupants ever be  
          discovered on the property during one of the regular inspections  
          required under the program.  In addition, the owner must retain  
          either law enforcement or a private security service to  
          regularly inspect the vacant property, and provide a copy of the  
          contract or agreement to perform those services at the time of  




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          registration.  The security company or law enforcement agent  
          must then inspect the vacant property at least every three days  
          to ensure it is vacant. 

          Supporters of the bill have argued that the bill will ensure  
          that the properties registered with this program truly are  
          vacant properties from the first day of registration, and are  
          not occupied by holdover tenants or any other persons with  
          legitimate claim to possess the property.  They argued  that  
          regular inspection of the property at least once every three  
          days will reveal quickly whether the property is a foreclosure  
          property with a holdover tenant, or a vacant property as  
          declared to be by the owner under penalty of perjury.  If the  
          property is established to be vacant when inspected, then  
          subsequent discovery of an occupant on the property would  
          indicate that he or she is a "squatter," not a holdover tenant  
          who had been living openly in the property without having any  
          idea that the owner had sworn the property to be vacant despite  
          the occupant's presence.

          Law enforcement is required to respond soon after being notified  
          that an unauthorized person has been found on the property.  The  
          responding law enforcement agency shall not arrest the person  
          for trespass, but instead advise him or her that written  
          authorization from the owner must be acquired within 48 hours,  
          or the person is subject to arrest upon the officer's next  
          inspection of the property.  This simply will allow any  
          unauthorized occupant to vacate the premises and avoid arrest.

          3.   Due Process Concerns of Persons with Legitimate Claims to  
          Tenancy  

          This bill creates a greatly expedited process for ejecting  
          alleged trespassers from residential property.  The foreclosure  
          crisis has created circumstances where ownership and rental  
          tenancy of property may be difficult to determine.  A person in  
          possession of property - perhaps a person who believes that he  
          or she still owns the property - might even have difficulty  
          determining the person or entity to contact for questions about  




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          the status of the property.  A person subject to ejectment and a  
          misdemeanor conviction for failure to leave property within 48  
          hours after notice could be a legitimate tenant or reasonably  
          believe that he or she is validly in possession of the property.  
           While the bill provides that a person in possession of property  
                                               shall not be arrested for trespass if he or she presents written  
          authorization from the owner, the bill does not provide a method  
          for the police or the courts to resolve conflicting claims of  
          ownership or authorization.  The person in possession could have  
          a lease from a former owner.  The new owner of a foreclosed  
          residence might have no knowledge of a lease between the former  
          owner and the tenant.  Further, the person in possession may  
          have been a victim of a sham rental from a person pretending to  
          be the owner of the property.  This has occurred often enough on  
          foreclosed properties that former Assembly Member Fiona Ma  
          authored a bill that raised penalties for sham rentals.  (See  
          Comment #5.)

          The bill requires the owner to "retain" a law enforcement agency  
          or private security firm to inspect the property.  The bill does  
          not explain how the owner would "retain" a law enforcement  
          agency or entity.  Because the bill requires the retained agency  
          to notify the agency with which the property is registered, it  
          appears that the retained entity would be different than the  
          agency with which the property is registered.  Further, the bill  
          requires the retained agency to inspect the property no less  
          than once every three days.  The purpose of the inspection is to  
          ensure that the property was truly vacant before the security  
          firm or law enforcement entity found someone on the property.   
          The bill does not explain what constitutes an inspection.  Any  
          inspection that did not include entry of the residence might not  
          reveal whether it was occupied or not. 

          The authority of the police to eject a person from a residence  
          appears to flow solely from the declaration of the asserted  
          owner.  Unlike the requirement that the person in possession  
          show written proof of authorization to be on the property, an  
          asserted owner need not produce any documentation of ownership.   
          An asserted owner who makes a false declaration could be charged  




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          with perjury, but perjury requires proof that the declarant  
          willfully stated as true any "material matter which he or she  
          knows to be false."  While it would appear that a declaration  
          that the property is vacant would be material, it might be  
          difficult to prove that somebody in a bank, mortgage office or  
          similar entity actually knew that the person in the residence  
          had no right to be there. Further, confusion about clear title  
          to property could make it difficult to prosecute an individual  
          for perjury.  In any event, long before any perjury prosecution  
          has been completed, the former occupant of the residence would  
          have been ejected from the property. 

          The bill does not provide a procedure for challenging either the  
          notice to leave or the declaration filed by the asserted owner  
          of the property.  It is also not clear that a person who is  
          arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for failure to leave a  
          residence within 48 hours has a valid defense in being a bona  
          fide tenant or possessor of the property.  That is, the bill  
          does not clearly state that a person with no legitimate claim to  
          possession of the property is guilty of a misdemeanor upon  
          failure to heed notice, the bill provides that the person is a  
          trespasser if he or she does not comply with the notice.  It  
          could be argued that the reference to "vacant" property could  
          provide a defense for a legitimate tenant, as property occupied  
          by a tenant or lawful possessor would not be vacant, but that is  
          not clear.  The lack of a clearly defined defense to trespass  
          through later establishing the right to be on the property could  
          be particularly problematic where the owner of the property is a  
          large bank or mortgage company and the alleged trespasser is the  
          former owner of the house.  The person may have received oral  
          authority to temporarily remain in the house from one department  
          or person at a company, but this authority or permission was not  
          conveyed to another department that prepares foreclosure  
          properties for sale.  It could take a person some time to  
          document his or her authority.   

          HOW WOULD AN OWNER "RETAIN" A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY TO INSPECT  
          THE PERSON'S RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY AT LEAST EVERY THREE DAYS?





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          WOULD THE RETAINED LAW ENFORCEMENT ENTITY BE DIFFERENT THAN THE  
          AGENCY WITH WHICH THE OWNERSHIP HAS BEEN REGISTERED?

          WHAT CONSTITUTES "INSPECTION" OF THE PROPERTY - TO VERIFY THAT  
          THE PROPERTY IS VACANT, SUCH THAT ANY PERSONS LATER FOUND ON THE  
          PROPERTY ARE TRESPASSERS?

          WHAT HAPPENS IN CASES WHERE OWNERSHIP - PERHAPS BY A LARGE BANK  
          OR MORTGAGE COMPANY - IS UNCLEAR?

          SHOULD THE BILL INCLUDE A JUDICIAL PROCESS THROUGH WHICH A  
          PERSON ORDERED TO VACATE RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY COULD CHALLENGE  
          THE BASIS OF THE ORDER?

          IS A PERSON STILL GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR FOR FAILURE TO LEAVE  
          PROPERTY WITHIN 48 HOURS, IF THE PERSON LATER ESTABLISHES THAT  
          HE OR SHE OWNS OR LEASES THE PROPERTY, OR HAS PERMISSION TO BE  
          ON THE PROPERTY?

          IN THE MISDEMEANOR DEFINED BY THIS BILL FOR FAILURE TO VACATE  
          RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY, SHOULD THE PROSECUTION HAVE TO PROVE AS AN  
          ELEMENT OF THE OFFENSE THAT A DEFENDANT DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT  
          TO OCCUPY THE PROPERTY?

          SHOULD A DEFENDANT HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE THAT  
          HE OR SHE HAD A REASONABLE BELIEF IN HIS OR HER RIGHT TO OCCUPY  
          THE PROPERTY?

          WOULD PROSECUTORS HAVE DIFFICULTY OBTAINING PERJURY CONVICTIONS  
          FOR FRAUDULENT OR QUESTIONABLE CLAIMS OF OWNERSHIP?

          4.  Related Pending Legislation  

          SB 1295 (Block) is pending in Assembly Public Safety.  The bill  
          amends subdivision (o) of Penal Code Section 602.  That section  
          concerns requests by a person who owns or is in lawful  
          possession of a structure or property for law enforcement  
          assistance in requesting trespassers to leave.  The property  
          must be posted as being closed to the public.  Failure to comply  




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          with the law enforcement demand to leave the property is a  
          misdemeanor.  AB 1686 (Medina) amends the same statute as the  
          Block bill, but is more narrow.  AB 1686 has been pending on  
          third reading since May 14, 2014.   

          5.  2010 Legislation on Fraudulent Rental of Vacant Properties -  
            Ejectment Under this Bill of Persons who Believe that are  
            Legitimate Tenants  

          AB 1800 (Ma) Ch. 531, Stats. 2010, concerned the problem of  
          fraudulent rental of foreclosed and vacant homes.  The bill  
          increased the misdemeanor penalty for unlawful rental of a  
          residential dwelling under claim of ownership or authority, from  
          a misdemeanor punishable by six months in the county jail, a  
          fine of up to $1,000, or both, to a maximum jail term of one  
          year, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.  There could be  
          circumstances where the occupants of a residence could be  
          subject to the ejectment procedure in this bill, yet honestly  
          believe that have a legitimate lease on the property.  

          6.  Argument in Support  

          The California Police Chiefs Association argues:

               Currently in California it can take 30-60  
               days-sometimes even longer-to evict a squatter.  This  
               is because unlawful detainer procedures are geared  
               towards situations in which a tenant is evicted for  
               failure to pay rent or for an alleged violation of a  
               rental agreement.  In the context of these cases, the  
               30 to 60 day timeframe is a reasonable one.  There are  
               currently no statutes, however, to assist with  
               removing squatters from vacant properties.  These  
               situations often involve potential public safety  
               issues, and most assuredly undermine the quality of  
               life in the adjacent neighborhood.  (This bill) will  
               rectify that situation and provide the needed tools to  
               respond to what has been a steadily increasing  
               problem.




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          7.  Argument in Opposition  

          Tenants Together argues:  
           
               This bill seeks to make it easier for property owners  
               to summarily remove alleged "unauthorized occupants."   
               The bill would substantially change landlord-tenant  
               law, bypassing the basic due process requirement of an  
               opportunity to be heard in court.  Proponents have  
               made no showing that existing laws governing trespass  
               and eviction are insufficient to sort out occupancy by  
               unauthorized persons.

               Tenants Together operates a renters' rights hotline  
               through which we have counseled over 8,000 tenant  
               households since 2009.  We regularly receive calls from  
               legitimate tenants being falsely accused of being  
               unauthorized occupants.  Whether because of ignorance or  
               bad faith, many owners, particularly after foreclosure,  
               treat tenants as if they are trespassers despite the fact  
               that rental agreements run with the land and verbal  
               rental agreements are fully enforceable and legitimate in  
               California.  These new owners threaten to call, and in  
               some cases call, the police or sheriff to have tenants  
               arrested or otherwise removed as trespassers.  Giving  
               these owners an additional tool for summary removal would  
               be extremely harmful.

               For years, post-foreclosure owners blatantly violated  
               tenants' rights by improperly treating tenants as  
               "unknown occupants," utilizing a loophole in state law  
               that was recently addressed by the tenant protections in  
               the Homeowner Bill of Rights (HBOR).  HBOR allows any  
               tenant in the property unnamed in an unlawful detainer  
               action to file a claim of right to possession at any time  
               to get a hearing to determine whether the tenant can  
               become a party to the eviction action.  CCP 415.46(e)(2).  
                By allowing owners to circumvent the entire court  
               eviction process when the right to occupy is disputed,  




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               the current proposal would undermine the very protections  
               the legislature just adopted in HBOR.

               The bill also improperly shifts the burden of proof of  
               the tenancy onto tenants, contrary to the trend in the  
               law in recent years.  Again, responding to widespread  
               false claims that tenancies were not entitled to  
               protection, the legislature passed a  provision in HBOR  
               to put the burden of proof on owners.  See CCP sec.  
               1161b(c) ("The purchaser or successor in interest shall  
               bear the burden of proof in establishing that a  
               fixed-term residential lease is not entitled to  
               protection under subdivision (b).") In contrast, this  
               bill would allow a mere declaration by the owner to  
               result in removal by law enforcement.

               Finally, it is worth considering why the situation of  
               unauthorized occupancy exists in the first place.  In  
               many cases, the unauthorized occupancy is made possible  
               by the failure of post-foreclosure owners to exercise due  
               diligence to maintain and secure the property after  
               acquisition.  Some companies have bought up thousands of  
               homes and make no meaningful attempt to secure them,  
               leaving them exposed to vandalism and trespassing.  The  
               legislature responded to this problem with SB 1137 in  
               2008 to empower local government agencies to file  
               enforcement actions against those who allow vacant  
               property to become blighted, yet few jurisdictions have  
               taken action under the law.  Rather than jeopardize the  
               rights of legitimate tenants with the proposed AB 1513,  
               the focus should be on forcing property owners to  
               exercise due diligence to secure properties after  
               acquisition.


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