Contact: Erin King, Executive Director
Time to Update Your Rental Agreement Concerning Accessibility
July 25, 2013 - The old expression "you never know” was never more dead-on than when the California Senate Judiciary Committee gave a major thumbs-down to a bill intended to help self storage operators dealing with lien laws. Bill AB 983 had moved quickly through three prior committee votes and there seemed to be no reason to think it wouldn’t make it through the Senate Judiciary Committee. But on July 2, thanks to a strong opposition from Senate majority leader Ellen M. Corbett, the bill was grounded in its tracks.
According to legal expert Carlos Kaslow, the primary obstacle to the bill’s passage was a change that it made to the court procedure to be followed after a Declaration in Opposition to Lien Sale was returned by a delinquent occupant. Under current law the storage operator is required to bring suit in small claims court when a Declaration is returned. AB 983 would have required the occupant who sends back a Declaration to file the lawsuit on the validity of the lien within 30 days of returning the Declaration.
Storage operators have been dissatisfied with the current procedure because a high proportion of delinquent occupants who returned Declarations never showed up for the requested hearing. It was hoped that delinquent occupants would only return a Declaration when they had legally relevant reasons for executing the form and would be more likely to appear at the hearing if the occupant initiated the suit.
"There simply was not sufficient Democratic member support for this change and was the reason the bill did not move forward,” said Kaslow. "The seven-member Senate Judiciary Committee has five Democratic members and two Republican members and no bill can come out of committee without some Democratic support.”
The Judiciary Committee action was somewhat surprising and disappointing because the bill had passed the Assembly by an overwhelming majority and had also passed the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee without opposition. There were Senators on the Judiciary Committee who opposed the bill who had previously voted for it when it came before the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.
"The Judiciary Committee action was a very disappointing outcome,” said CSSA executive director Erin King. "We thought the bill was well on its way to passing and to have it turned down in such a manner really had us scratching our heads. However, we’ll keep trying to find ways to work with our legislators to bring about positive changes for our industry.”
CSSA lobbyist Randy Pollack also was miffed by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision.
"The bill moved out of the Senate Business & Professions Committee on Consent with Senator Corbett (who opposed a similar version several years ago) voting ‘aye,’” said Pollack "We had good meetings with Judiciary Committee Members and staff. A few days before the Judiciary Committee hearing, the consultant (who we had met with several times) wanted specific information regarding court delays. We provided him with court docket information and insight from members and attorneys who have faced non-appearances by the occupant. Unfortunately, his analysis of the bill raised concerns that switching the burden would make it difficult for out-of-state occupants to file a claim and occupants would not have the resources to institute a suit (we provided rebuttals).”
"Also, at this point we learned that Senator Corbett (no longer Chair of the Judiciary Committee but who remains a member) had second thoughts about her vote in the Senate Business & Professions Committee, reversed course and began to lobby members of the Committee to oppose the bill,” added Pollack.
So where does the CSSA and national SSA go from here?
"The CSSA and SSA are assessing their options in light of the legislature’s action,” concluded Kaslow. "The Judiciary Committee has indicated that it is willing to work with the storage industry on an acceptable bill. The CSSA will carefully review its options before making a final decision on how it will proceed forward but it is not a simple decision. First, the bill must go from a one-year bill onto the two-year bill track. This means that it cannot be enacted until 2014. It also increases the time and expenses that the CSSA will incur to move a revised bill forward. A decision to work with the Senate Judiciary Committee to modify the bill only makes sense if there is enough substantive change to the current lien law to justify this effort.”
About The California Self-Storage Association
Founded in 2002, the California Self Storage Association (CSSA) is the state not-for-profit trade organization dedicated to serving the California Self-Storage industry including owner-operators, facility managers and industry vendors. The CSSA represents some 450 direct member companies that own and operate over 1,200 facilities in California. CSSA direct members range from individual facility owner-operators to multiple-facility operations, to the industry's largest publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).