The California Assembly has passed Senate Bill 644, which limits the amount that those currently in the military will pay for rental security deposits.
Under SB 644, active duty military will only need to pay a security deposit equivalent to one month’s rent. If it’s a furnished apartment it can be no more than two. This will be a significant change from the current law, which states that it cannot be more than 2 months for a deposit, or 3 months if the unit is furnished.
Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) introduced the bill earlier this year. He supports the bill because many active duty servicemen have been unable to find affordable places to live in the Bay Area. Specifically he was influenced by Dublin, California-based Camp Parks Garrison Commander Jennifer Nolan, who had asked him to limit security deposits for service members because it was hard to find a place to live.
“It’s really hard for us to find places to live off base around there,” said former Army serviceman Derek Kuhn, who had served at Camp Parks. “The security deposit wasn’t the only hang-up for us. Really, the rents were the main killer. But having to pay less of a security deposit would have been enough for some of us to find a place.”
SB 644 has also received support from housing advocates, anti-poverty groups, and Veterans organizations such as the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies.
Opponents of the bill have included landlords and building owners, who fear that this can lead to a loss of money.
Carlos Guerra, who is part of a landlord organization in Southern California, gave the view of many landlords who rent to service members. “This is bad,” Guerra told the Globe. “We need a deposit of a few months for a lot of these apartments because of how much damage can be done. It’s not a greed thing. Deposits we literally have to give back pending any repairs. This is a ‘we need that deposit to fix things they cause’ thing. One months’ deposit many times doesn’t cover all the damages that were done, and chasing after these guys for repair after they move out can be a giant headache. Servicemen in particular, because then the Army or Navy or whoever gets involved.”
“And you’ve probably noticed how no associations or anyone have been out against this, trying to convince people,” continued Guerra. “You try telling people not to give someone in the military an advantage or something. You’re crucified if you so much as suggest not doing it, and they’ll ask why you hate the troops and America.”
“What this is going to do is make landlords more worried about renting to people in the military, because we’re going to lose money through repairs that the security deposit would have normally covered.”
SB 644 is expected to be signed into law by the Governor soon.