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New bill promotes civil liberties for tenants and landlords alike

Tenants and landlords throughout the state of California can breathe a little more easily after the passage of a bill restricting the ability of law enforcement to seize real estate and other personal property. The California Assembly recently passed legislation strengthening our civil liberties of due process, and providing stricter guidelines to law enforcement for how they may seize assets they suspect may be related to the manufacture of distribution of illegal substances.

In one particularly egregious case that would have been stopped by the new bill, law enforcement attempted to seize a commercial building worth approximately $1.5 million, after one of the tenants was accused of selling about $40 worth of marijuana. It boggles the mind that law abiding tenants would have to live in fear that their leases and livelihoods may face abrupt dissolution over such a trivial matter. Fortunately, tenants and landlords throughout the state can rest a little more easily now.

The new bill is a compromise on the parts of both civil liberties groups and law enforcement. Law enforcement is now allowed to seize monetary assets and "negotiable instruments" with a value below $40,000 without a conviction, but is required to acquire a conviction before they can seize real estate or personal property. If the bill is signed into law by the governor, it will be significant win for tenants' rights.

Those whose livelihoods are dependent on a commercial lease agreement for their business receive short shrift far too often. It is encouraging to see the California Assembly standing up for the rights of both landowners and tenants who may otherwise pay the price others' actions. If you have received unfair treatment in your lease as a tenant, the guidance of an experienced commercial lease lawyer can help ensure that your rights and livelihood remain protected.

Source: spectator.org, "Shock: Legislature Does Right Thing on a Liberty Issue!," STEVEN GREENHUT, Aug. 18, 2016

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