Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Momentum builds to end security deposit theft

California is a deep-blue state, with a Democratic Governor and a two-thirds super-majority in both houses of the legislature.  It is the home to 15 million tenants in an overheated rental market, and ground-zero in the nation’s foreclosure crisis.  Now is the time to get real change in the Golden State.

But when it comes to common-sense tenant rights laws, too many Democrats vote the wrong way.  They take large donations from the real estate lobby, which wields undeserved clout in Sacramento.  Even some “progressive” Democrats who represent deep-blue, urban districts are not our best allies.

At Tenants Together we're working to change how tenants are treated in Sacramento. On Tuesday May 7th, dozens of Tenants Together members took to the Capitol for a “Day of Action” to urge State Senators to support SB 603, a bill to promote security deposit reform. While tenants were walking the halls of the Capitol, the Senate Judiciary approved the bill by a vote of 4-1, a key step toward passage of the law. The “Day of Action” was a show of force by tenants in a capital often dominated by real estate industry lobbyists.

Members who participated in the Day of Action were victims of security deposit theft and allies. One member, Sebrina, flew in from San Diego to make sure Senators heard her story. Sebrina says, “My deposit was partially withheld for cleaning and unnamed “damages.”  I left the place cleaner than it was when I moved in.  As for damages, I have no idea what the landlord was talking about and they never explained or documented any repair expenses.  The apartment sits now, almost 3 years later, as storage for odds and ends and paint, tools, unused carpet and so on. No one has ever lived there since I moved.”

At the Senate Judiciary Hearing Sen. Mark Leno (D – San Francisco) emphasized how many tenants across the state are suffering under the unfair treatment of tenant security deposits, and now is the time to act. Chair of the Committee, Noreen Evans (D – Santa Rosa), said that she herself had experienced unfair deposit withholding as a renter and felt this was an important bill to pass. Votes in favor were Sen. Evans, Sen. Bill Monning (D – Monterey), Sen. Ellen Corbett (D – East Bay), and Sen. Leno.

Supporters and advocates who could not make lobbying efforts participated in the “Day of Action” by writing letters and making calls to their senators. SB 603 now moves to the Senate floor where a vote is expected before the end of May.

The real estate industry has lobbyists every day in the State Capitol, many of whom are shameless about spreading misinformation and trying to intimidate Democratic legislators in voting against tenant protections.  With your help, we can make sure that Sacramento listens to the state’s 15 million renters – by voting “yes” on SB 603. We need every tenant in California to call their Senator NOW!

To learn more about SB 603 – Security Deposit Fairness visit:,, or follow the campaign on Twitter @EndDepositTheft

Check out all our photos from Lobby Day on Facebook.

Check out all our photos from Lobby Day on Facebook.

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