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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    
August 23, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
Lisa Gardiner (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phil Yost (650) 688-6834 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


SACRAMENTO – A winning entry in State Senator Joe Simitian’s (D-Palo Alto) 2011-12 “There Oughta Be a Law” contest passed recently out of the Legislature and is now headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

Senate Bill 1191 would warn prospective tenants when the property they are looking to rent is subject to foreclosure. It requires that a landlord who receives a Notice of Default provide written notice to any prospective tenant before a lease is signed. Under existing law, a landlord is not required to disclose this fact to a prospective tenant. The vote in the Senate was 24-9.

“We can’t forget that the foreclosure crisis affects not just homeowners, but renters, too,” said Simitian. “Without some kind of notice, renters are at risk of having their homes yanked out from under them. This bill will help renters make fully informed decisions before they sign on the dotted line.”

“Tenants are often shocked to learn of pending foreclosure proceedings after they move into a new home,” said Dean Preston, executive director of Tenants Together, a statewide organization for renters’ rights.  “Tenants need this information before they move in, so they can make an informed choice about where to live. We commend Senator Simitian for championing this important bill.”

“The bill is a common sense solution.  It doesn’t prohibit a landlord from renting a home; it simply requires the owner to ensure that the tenant has full disclosure about the rental home that is currently facing foreclosure,” said Debra Carlton, senior vice president of the California Apartment Association.

The bill proposal was submitted by Samantha James of San Jose. About a year ago, James rented a property, paid her security deposit, and furnished her apartment, only to find out two months later that it was in foreclosure. Sale of the property had been scheduled at various times, and then postponed.

As James noted in her contest entry, properties under foreclosure might soon change owners, possibly forcing a new tenant to move out within months, or making it difficult to get a security deposit returned.

“I’m glad that Senator Simitian and the Legislature are standing up for renters,” James said. “A bill like this will help ensure that renters are better protected in this foreclosure crisis.”

SB 1191 allows tenants to void the lease if a landlord fails to disclose the foreclosure and sets forth other penalties.

The Governor has until September 30 to act on the measure.

Since 2001, Simitian has invited Californians to submit ideas for legislation. To date, 18 winning entries have been signed into law. This year, he received 324 proposals from residents of the 11th Senate District and from around the state. This year’s contest is the last one for Simitian, who is completing his final term in the Senate at the end of the year.