It is getting increasingly expensive to evict a tenant in California…or even a squatter, who broke into your home, committing a crime to get in, and who by all rights you should be able to call the police to remove. But in California, hysteria about housing has led to increasingly anti-landlord legislation, which gives even more power to tenants who already had the scales tipped in their favor.
This article highlights one case and reveals the problem: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-hostile-occupation-of-carlos-lopezs-house-1527892100
In California, it is not a stretch to say that the state actually funds squatters and squatting, because government funds go to eviction defense agencies, which provide legal support for any tenant facing eviction, as well as any malicious squatter who broke into someone’s home, and is being evicted through the court system, since the state refuses to see this as the criminal matter that it is.
From the article:
If Carlos Lopez lived anywhere but California, he could have forced the squatter out of his modest rental house months ago. But here any eviction defendant, even one who has admittedly refused to pay the rent, can get a free attorney and demand a jury trial as leverage. That’s what the woman occupying Mr. Lopez’s house in northern Los Angeles County did. Only ethics or ignorance prevents every evictee from doing the same.
As Mr. Lopez’s lawyer, I was skeptical when he told me someone was living in his house without payment or permission—until I discovered that my firm had helped evict the same woman from three other area houses. The difference this time was that the squatter had an attorney, provided by a state-funded nonprofit whose mission is to reduce evictions.
Things didn’t use to be so bad in California, until tenants were enabled to extort landlords by threatening to litigate the eviction in a jury trial, which can easily cost over $50,000. Most small time landlords do not have that kind of money, so some of them, facing an expensive eviction suit, may be forced to sell their property, as they cannot afford to evict a deadbeat tenant who is getting the state’s support to steal accomodations from the property owner.
Historically, eviction was intended to be faster and simpler than other civil litigation so that landlords could quickly reclaim their property from deadbeat tenants. In California, jury trials for evictions were nearly unheard of until the mid-2000s, as they still are in other states. Most residential leases included jury waivers, and most tenants couldn’t afford the legal expense of a jury trial.
That changed in 2005, when the California Supreme Court ruled jury waivers unenforceable. Lawyers swarmed to represent tenants free, making money by demanding landlords pay tenants thousands of dollars to leave. Landlords pay because it’s cheaper than litigation.