Governor signs Sen. Ted W. Lieu bill to block landlords from requiring tenants to pay rent only online

September 07, 2012
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Complaints from residents prompted renter-protection bill
SACRAMENTO – Heeding pleas from residents that landlords were unfairly requiring rental payments be made only online, California Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a Sen. Ted W. Lieu bill that would ensure landlords continue to also accept other forms of payment.

“This is a victory for everyone who wants the option of paying rent in ways other than online, such as check or money order,” Lieu, D-Torrance, said about the governor’s signature on Senate Bill 1055, which drew broad bipartisan support in the Legislature. “The elderly, disabled and poor – or someone who simply wants to keep their options open, can now be assured paying rent online is but one option open to them.” 

The issue came to light late in 2011 when hundreds of tenants in apartment complexes in Los Angeles objected when the property-management group notified residents of a 300-unit complex that the only way they could soon pay rent was online.

Many of these residents were senior citizens on fixed incomes living in rent-controlled apartments.  One of them, an 87-year-old widow named Joyce Higgins of Torrance, refused, saying that she had been a victim of identity theft and was advised by her bank not to pay rent this way.

She soon was served with a 60-day eviction notice.

“I have never been even one day late paying my rent, my apartment is spotless and I am a good neighbor to all of the seniors around me,” Higgins said to Lieu in a letter.

“California residents such as Ms. Higgins are the reason I authored SB 1055, which forbids landlords from requiring online rental payments as the only way to pay rent,” Lieu said

Current law does not specify how rent is to be paid. SB 1055 revises the law to prohibit landlords from requiring online only rental payments. 

“Many residents are elderly, live on fixed incomes and have no computer,” Lieu said, adding that it was unreasonable to ask renters who may be struggling to make ends meet to invest in a computer, Internet access and related expenses in order to rent a residence.

SB 1055 was supported by the California Apartment Association and is co-sponsored by the Coalition for Economic Survival and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.
 
For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 1055, please visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below.

Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Labor Committee and represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Pedro. For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu

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