City Council Agrees to Extend Moratorium

The Alameda City Council voted unanimously to extend an urgency ordinance prohibiting residential rent increases of 8 percent or more and “no-cause” evictions for 60 days at its meeting Jan. 5.

Stipulations of the moratorium state that rents for multi-family buildings built before 1995 cannot be increased 8 percent or more. This cap on rent increases is cumulative and takes into account rent increases imposed within the last 12 months. In addition, actions to terminate a tenancy, such as evictions, are limited to certain “for cause/no fault” reasons such as non-payment of rent, illegal activity, moving in a family member or going out of the rental business.
The council meeting lasted well into the early hours Wednesday morning, Jan. 6. After unrelated agenda items were discussed, the council switched gears to the rent increase issue. Landlords, renters and city staff all were given a chance to speak, which caused the meeting to run long, but the mayor was not concerned with the elongated meeting.

“Everyone worked overnight, until the early hours of the next morning, to move this issue forward,” said Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer. “Council continues to act unanimously to reach a fair resolution to this complex, important issue. I applaud our community, Council, and staff for their hard work and dedication.”

Along with extending the existing moratorium, the Council reached a consensus on what policies and procedures they would like to see in a long-term ordinance. The Council asked city staff to include the following provisions: requirement of landlords to offer tenants an initial one-year lease, limiting rent increases to no more than once per year, no cause evictions permitted with limitations, provide tenant relocation assistance for certain type of evictions, prepare and approve a Capital Improvement Plan prior to evicting tenants for substantial rehabilitation, monetary penalties and enforcement, and an annual review of the ordinance and a sunset provision. 

Other stipulations Council asked to be included require all residential rental property owners to initiate the Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) process if they seek rent increases of more than 5 percent and for binding arbitration if both sides do not reach agreement. The binding arbitration would only apply to multi-family rental units built before Feb. 1, 1995, pursuant to state law. 

The new ordinance will be presented to the council at the Feb. 16 council meeting. The Council decided to extend the rent moratorium after the previous one was about to expire. The previous moratorium, enacted at the Nov. 4 special Council meeting, was designed to last 65 days. 

The Nov. 4 meeting, however, will not be remembered for the first temporary ordinance, but for the melee that it produced. Two people were arrested, including Bob Davis who was left bloody after officers dragged him to the ground, and a city staff member was severely injured.

For more on the moratorium and the current rent review process, visit http://alamedaca.gov/city-hall/rent-review-advisory-committee-rrac.