Letter Writers Need Reassurance on M1

 

Well, the Sept. 22 letters to the Alameda Sun were certainly full of fear. I would like an opportunity to reassure the letter writers, and correct some misconceptions about Measure M1.

In her letter (“The real danger inside M1”), Cara Carnes is concerned that “The landlord/property owner has no say or rights over who could potentially be living in their unit.” 

The confusion comes because the property investor groups only quote the first part of Section 5a2A “Notwithstanding any contrary provision in this Section, a Landlord shall not take any action to terminate a tenancy based on a Tenant’s sublease of the unit” without giving the rest of the section “if the following requirements are met:

  1. The Tenant continues to reside in the Rental Unit as his, her or their primary residence.
  2. The sublease replaces one or more departed Tenants under the Rental Housing Agreement on a one-for-one basis.
  3. The Landlord has unreasonably withheld the right to sublease following written request by the Tenant.”

So, the tenant must still live in the unit, the number of residents in the unit may not be increased and, most importantly, it requires that the landlord be given a written request from the tenant. The landlord has 14 days to give a reasonable refusal.

To Karen Miller (“Read the fine print”) I would like to say that past rental history, job history, criminal history or any other factors may be used to make a reasonable objection. There is only one restriction — if they are not responsible to the property owner for rent, then their credit score is not relevant. Miller’s neighbor story is very unfortunate, but I must point out that it happened under the old laws, and nothing about it would change under Measure M1. There is no law anywhere that allows you to evict your neighbor’s tenant.

I have good news for Katya Sedgwick (“How we feel about rent control”) Measure M1 will help you! 

Let me quote the measure: “Sec. 4. Homeowner Protections.

  • Homeownership is of great importance to the residents of the City of Alameda. Nothing in this Article shall prevent the following if the single-family home is the primary residence of the homeowner.
  1. Small, Second Units Unregulated. A unit that is permitted and in compliance with Alameda Municipal Code § 30-4.1(b)(9) will be exempt from this Article if the owner is the Primary Resident of the first, larger single-family home.”

I would like to inform Sedgwick that all single family homeowners with in-law units will gain more protections under Measure M1 than they have under current law, or Measure L1. Under current law you owe relocation fees if you want to move your mother-in-law into the unit. But under Measure M1 you will not.

Finally, I must first point out to Eric and Cornelia Grunseth (“Don’t enact the M1 manifesto,” Sept. 22) that there is no provision whatsoever for short term tenancy under current law. So your nightmare scenario would apply right now. Indeed, under current law if you left and rented for a single month you would owe the tenant his month’s rent back plus $1,500 in relocation fees!

As to relocation fees over time, Measure M1 again helps the landlords. Measure L1’s $1,500 base adjusts for inflation, but the part based on rent adjusts with the rate of rent increases! Currently around 13 percent a year. Even if you keep increases to the 5 percent suggested by the City Council, this is still much higher than inflation. If you rent your three-bedroom, two-bath house for $4,000 now, in four years the Measure L1 relocation fee will actually be higher than any fee under Measure M1.

Measure M1 is designed to help all Alamedans, tenants, homeowners and landlords. Don’t fall for the fear, vote for M1!

 

 

Eric Strimling is the communications director for the Alameda Renters Coalition.