News Story Hits Home

News Story Hits Home

The City Council will consider revisions to the rent control ordinance at its Sept. 3 meeting, according to a press release from the city. It is the first council meeting after the August break.

The proposed revisions come after another example of the city’s housing crisis appeared in the London-based news publication The Guardian. Journalist Sam Levin profiled 87-year-old Musiy Rishin’s battle with his landlord who has been on a year-long mission to evict him. 

Rishin, who grew up in the Ukraine before escaping during the Nazi occupation in 1941, lives at the Dunes Apartments at 2445 Shoreline Dr. He qualifies for a Section 8 housing voucher, which allows him to pay $2,520 per month for his two-bedroom apartment. However, beginning in August 2018, Rishin’s landlord has tried to raise his rent to $3,200, an increase of $680, according to the article. Rishin tried to dispute the increase, but instead he was given 90 days to leave the apartment.

Rishin’s landlord, Margaret Tam, who is based in Arizona, is suing to remove Rishin from the apartment he has lived in for 17 years. Rishin is countersuing alleging discrimination. He is being represented by Sarah McCracken, a tenants’ rights lawyer with Centro Legal de La Raza, according to the article.

Rishin’s ordeal meets several criteria of the proposed revisions to Alameda’s rent control ordinance. He believes he is being discriminated against and has experienced harassment from his landlord. He received most of the eviction notices while his son and roommate, Yaroslav, was undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Yaroslav passed away in April.

Rent-control activists will hold a rally in support of Rishin in front of the Dunes Apartments this Saturday, Aug. 24, from 3 to 4 p.m.

The rent control ordinance revisions are aimed to extend protections for all tenants from landlords. Council will study revisions including adding numerous definitions to the ordinance and clarifying what units are exempt from the ordinance; increasing the length of time from one year to three years that an owner must reside in the unit following move in; and permitting buyout agreements.

Other stipulations deal with relocation fees. Landlords would be required to pay a relocation payment if a rent increase is more than 10 percent and the tenant decides to vacate rather than pay the increase; tie permanent relocation payments to fair market rents; and eliminate trading extra time in the unit for a reduction in relocation payments.

The Council will also study extending eviction protections to Section 8 voucher holders. A separate fair housing ordinance that would prohibit discrimination, including for source of income (including Section 8), age, disability, and family status; the prohibition of tenant harassment and lockouts will also be explored.

A community meeting is planned to discuss the proposed changes. See details in story below.