Podcast 283: Bed Bugs, Emotional Support Animals, and Rent Control

In Philly, a bill is going to vote to see who is responsible for bed bugs between landlords and tenants while Michigan lawmakers will vote on harsh penalties for falsified ESAs.

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Show Transcription:

Eric Worral: (00:00)
Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of RentPrep for Landlords. It’s episode number 283. I’m going to be doing an in the news podcast here today. We’re going to be talking about bedbugs, lying about emotional support animals, and an issue that kind of arose from the California rent law eviction loophole they’re calling in. We’re going to get to all of these stories real quick today, right after this.

Voice Over: (00:29)
Welcome to RentPrep for Landlords podcast. And now your hosts, Steven White, and Eric Worral.

All right, so in order of how I introduced them on opening up today’s podcast, the first thing we’re going to be talking about is bedbugs. So an article from whyy.org, which is actually W, H, Y, the letter “Y” dot org. The title says, “Should Landlords be Responsible for a Bedbug Infestation? New Bill Passes Remediation Costs to Tenants.” So this is from Jake Blumgart, on October 22nd.

Eric Worral: (01:04)
This was written. So this isn’t a national, lots of local law, but another good example of why keeping up on your local laws is important. And it said that Philadelphia’s fight against bedbugs took one tiny itchy step forward Tuesday with a city council committee passage of a bill aimed at reducing the city’s vulnerability than nasty house guests. So I learned something new today. Apparently Philly is leading the country in bedbugs said it’s one of the only major us cities that doesn’t currently use city law to guard against the critters. And they found a 2014 study that about 11% of homes in the South Philadelphia zip code had been affected by bedbugs. So probably not the most exciting place to rent or live in general if one out of 10 homes had been affected by bad bugs, but the bill that advanced would hold landlords responsible for reading rental properties of the bedbugs if the critters are discovered within 90 days of Elise’s commencement. But after the 90-day window closes, tenants would share the cost of remediation, a landlord-friendly amendment to the bill that tenant advocates and others say will make regulation less effective.

Eric Worral: (02:15)
So I thought this is just, it’s kind of interesting to share that in this particular city, what they’re trying to do is push it through that first 90 days it’s on the landlord. And then after 90 days, it’s a split a, it doesn’t mention what that split would be and maybe they’re still trying to figure that out. But like I mentioned before, another example of why keeping up on your local laws and understanding that and also not just jumping to a conclusion on something because let’s say this is the law in your area and tenant complaints about bed bugs and you can say, okay, that’s fine. We can take care of that, but you’re gonna pay for it. Well, you know, keep open your local wall. Cause maybe it’s on you, maybe it is on the tenant, maybe it’s split in this particular case.

Eric Worral: (02:55)
So that is coming down in Philly right now and being debated. The next in the news story I wanted to highlight here comes from mlive.com. And I don’t think we have, no, we do have an author, Lauren Gibbons. And, the title of this is “Lying to Landlords about Emotional Support Animals would be a Crime under Michigan House Bills.” I know a few listeners years probably just perked up on that one. If falsely declaring a pet, an emotional support animal so they can live in a rental property, would be a misdemeanor under a pair of bills debated and the Michigan House this week, it’s sponsored by two state representatives, Matt hall and Sara can Benzie. It’s probably how you say that. And the two bills would allow landlords to request a notarized proof from a tenant’s health care provider that a person has a legitimate need for a or for an emotional support animal. If a person falsely represented their pet as an emotional support animal, the landlord could evict them from the property and could be charged with a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days community service.

Eric Worral: (04:05)
So I hear that right there and I’m like, there’s no way that they’re ever going to convict somebody and throw them into jail for 90 days for a fake emotional support animal because that would just make news like crazy. Could you imagine somebody like has a kitten in a rental property and it comes out that they fake the ESA documentation and they end up in jail for three months? But I understand why they probably were doing it this way. Maybe they’re trying to go pretty bold with it and they’ll get dialed back to like, all right, it can be a $250 fine and you know, a day of community service or something. But it’s this kind of crazy on that end. But at the same time, I kind of liked the idea of it. You talked about emotional support animals a lot. I try not to bring it up too much because it’s definitely one of those touchy subjects that, you know, it’s pretty easy to go off on a tangent about.

Eric Worral: (04:52)
But having any kind of law that’s gonna reduce fakes and also give attention to the people that actually need these service animals, or I should say emotional support animals, I think is a great thing. So it says that the health care providers providing the documentation would need to have treated the person for at least six months prior to the documentation requests and maintain a physical office space. Love that among other requirements and it provider misrepresenting a tenant’s need for an emotional support animal could also be charged with the misdemeanor. So I love the fact that they need a physical office-based. So it’s not just like somebody who started a website to get an emotional support letter and a, they actually have really no business doing that. And it’s interesting too that they’re looking at possibly filing a misdemeanor charge on the business if they don’t comply.

Eric Worral: (05:42)
This legislation would not impact service animals cause they’re a separate entity, trained to perform functions for their owners and are classified differently from emotional support animals. As we all know. Of course, there are people that are arguing that there’s a big problem with this and then you’re going to get both sides coming at it. But so far it sounds like it has a lot of supporters and it’ll be interesting to hear what happens with this? I think if they can pass something in one state, like a lot of times we see, then all of a sudden you see a pop up in another state in another state. And yeah, we’ll see how this one goes. Hopefully, we can keep up on this one and keep you guys in the loop. And I’m sure if you’re in Michigan that one’s definitely very, very interesting to you.

Eric Worral: (06:21)
All right. Our last in the news story here it comes from the Westside, therealdeal.com. I feel like I’ve been actually a sourcing a few articles on them lately. A good for them. They put it on some good content. The article I felt like I was kind of being disingenuous when I said that. Good for them. It’s like when somebody says good for you, especially when they use that tone and you’re like, Oh, okay, thanks. It doesn’t really feel like a compliment though cause they did for you. Not great for me but good for you. Anyways, I digress. This article comes from Dennis Lynch. It was published. Maybe they don’t put their published dates on here. Oh, that it’s off to the side by all the ads. October 24th, 2019 at 9:00 AM in case you’re curious about the timeline, but the title is “Rent Law’s “Eviction Window” Created Opportunity for LA Landlords.”

Eric Worral: (07:15)
I found this article pretty interesting because again, it shows how for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction of some sort. Right? So it says, call it a loophole, call it an eviction window. But anyway, you call it the months-long delay from when the state legislator passed statewide rent control in September to when newly signed law will take effect on January 1st has created an opportunity for landlords. So I think we would call them previous episodes. We talked about a new rent control measure known as AB 1482, which was passed into law on October 8th in California which is a, I got a few different rent control measures attached to it. But apparently it’s saying that some landlords in Los Angeles immediately sent eviction notices to tenants at dozens of apartment buildings to clear out units at below-market rates in order to avoid rent caps and tighter restrictions on just cause evictions.

Eric Worral: (08:11)
So they said that this was actually very different from the way that this was done in New York. So I said that comparing to New York or governor Andrew Cuomo in June sign the state sweeping rent reform bill and the law immediately after the legislature passed it and the law took effect immediately after that. So this is where I thought this article gets really interesting is it explains why California didn’t do the same thing. Cause I was like, well they’ve already seen it rolled out in another state. The other state did it immediately. California doesn’t typically strike you as a state to drag their feet on. These types of things are usually pretty progressive and trying to push, you know, whether it be, you know, pro-tenant or whatever it may be. They, they seem to move on things. So it turns out that they just didn’t have the votes.

Eric Worral: (08:56)
It said that a statewide law can only take immediate effect if it garners two thirds, majority in the state Senate and assembly. So that is news to me. It said that this bill fell just short and both houses. So in the 40 members Senate, 25 lawmakers voted in favor falling two votes short. And in it said in the 79 member assembly, 48 lawmakers voted in favor falling five votes short. The five Assembly members also abstained. So there was, I guess five members in each that just, I think abstained means they just didn’t vote. This is where Eric is to admit to you live on the podcast that I’m pretty limited on knowledge. But yeah, abstain is a one sells from doing or enjoying something. So five art senators restrained themselves from enjoying something. So they must have, I just pled the fifth on that one.

Eric Worral: (09:52)
So it said that the Bill’s author, San Francisco assemblyman, David Chiu, appeared to have been caught off guard by the landlord eviction move, which is ridiculous. I mean, he should know that this is a possible consequence of this thing happening. I mean, this is what he’s in, you know politics for us to know these things. And I think when people say they didn’t expect that, I mean for, there’s always some sort of fallout with these types of bills right there. People are gonna try to find the loopholes. So he said there’s no reason for landlords to evict tenants in order to skirt the rent cap ahead of January 1st because the bill allows landlords to make a fair rate of return and call it a shame that some unscrupulous landlords have chosen to exasperate just placement in homelessness in order to make obscene profits.

Eric Worral: (10:37)
So I share this with you because it’s interesting, recent news that’s going into effect in California, but I feel like we also learned a little bit about state policies and the fact that a statewide law can only take immediate effect if it garners a two-thirds majority in the state Senate and assembly. I’m assuming that means both because it didn’t say or I said and assembly. But yeah, that’s interesting to know. So if the, in the future, there are things being discussed in your state and that bill is going to the Senate and the state assembly, then you have the opportunity that it might be something that’s on, I guess, I don’t know if there’s a standard delight if I mentioned it earlier, if it’s 90 days. But the, it sounded like it’s a, it’s about a 90-day delay on this one as opposed to New York state where it went into effect immediately. So if you guys want to check out any of these news stories, I will link to them in today’s show notes. Again, this is episode number two, 83. And yeah, some interesting stuff going around on the country from bedbugs and Philly to ESS, Michigan and loophole unscrupulous landlords as it’s put in a California yeah. A lot going up. All right guys. Well, until next week, I hope you guys have a great week and take care.