In a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of south Sacramento, the property looks like any other on the block: a single-story house that could use a new paint job, a large front yard that could use a little tidying, a chain-link fence circumferencing the lot.
The tenants inside have no complaints—they have a good relationship with the property manager, and broken things get fixed on time. But like millions of renters in this increasingly costly state, they say that if their landlord raised the rent, they couldn’t afford to stay.
State law doesn’t do much to protect against such a scenario. Because they rent a single-family home, they wouldn’t benefit from rent control even if Sacramento votes to adopt it next year. They could be evicted without being given a specific reason why.
The tenants—who declined to be identified for this story—were unaware their monthly rent checks were going to the wife of a man with significant sway over whether those state laws will change this year: state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. A Democrat from Los Angeles, Rendon and his wife collect rental income from four properties: three single-family homes in Sacramento and a condominium in downtown L.A.
Rendon declined to be interviewed for this story. A spokesman wrote via email that Rendon “is aware of the cost pressure that many tenants face and has voted for a host of tenants’ protection bills that have been before him in the Assembly.” He emphasized that the Speaker’s wife owned three of the rental properties well before marrying Rendon.
He’s not the only lawmaker to double as a landlord. A CALmatters analysis of state-required financial disclosure documents reveals that at least 30 lawmakers—more than 25% of the Legislature—own one or more properties that generate income from tenants. Six sit on one of the Legislature’s housing committees. Many are renting out multiple homes, receiving at a minimum tens of thousands of dollars a year in rent checks.