If California passes Senate Bill 1079, cities, counties and government agencies can seize private residential properties after 90 days of vacancy. This law applies to apartment complexes and other residential buildings owned by corporations or limited liability companies.

Learn more about how this legislation may impact your agency’s plans for eminent domain, easements and condemnations.

Use of seized residential properties

Agencies who wish to take ownership of vacant properties under the new law must provide the property owner at least the lowest land assessment value for the property. The agency may then sell the residential building to a housing sponsor or community land trust. Alternatively, the agency can manage the property as an affordable rental for low- to moderate-income renters.

Civil penalties for vacant properties

When a property has been empty for at least 90 calendar days, the municipality can also charge the corporate or LLC owner civil penalties. In addition, the law would prohibit the owner from selling the property on the open market before offering it for sale to a housing sponsor or community land trust. When the owner has failed to pay the mortgage and the lender seeks foreclosure on the property, the bank must first offer to sell the building to its tenants, then to either a housing sponsor, land trust, city or county, before it is eligible for the open market.

Background of Senate Bill 1079

A group called Moms 4 Housing inspired a state representative to introduce the bill when they took shelter in a vacant home owned by a property-flipping company. The legislator hopes the bill will address the issues of homelessness and soaring housing costs in California. According to the Sacramento Bee, more than 150,000 California residents are homeless.

Local nonprofit agencies, cities and counties who strive to address this issue in their own communities would be able to do so through the provisions of this bill. With this new route to eminent domain, governments can make a real impact on housing insecurity in their backyards.