Rent Ordinance Drama Continues to Unfold

 

The city of Alameda’s Rent Stabilization and Eviction Limitation Ordinance that went into effect on March 1 has raised concerns from tenants, landlords and local politicians.

The Alameda City Council adopted the new ordinance to give relief to tenants from the increasing cost of rent in the city and create a process that would suppress landlord-renter tensions. However, the ordinance has created more squabbles between the two sides. 

April Squires, an Alameda resident and a member of the Alameda Renters Coalition, said she had numerous problems with the ordinance. Squires, who was at the Starbucks on Webster Street to collect enough signatures to put a new ballot measure for renters’ rights on the November ballot, was dismayed with the lack of a rent increase cap. Instead an increase of five percent or more would “trigger” a Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) rent mediation process.

“It’s just a suggestion, it’s not a cap,” said Squires. 

According to the ordinance, the “role of the RRAC in examining all rent increases above 5 percent is expected to curb the rapid rise in rental costs.”

But Squires is skeptical that this is how the process will play out.

“All the landlords would have to do is talk about how much they spent to fix something,” she said. “We feel a rent increase capped at 65 percent of the consumer price index is fair.”

Landlords and Realtors have expressed their issues with the ordinance. Two realtors in Alameda, Farhad Matin and Marilyn Schumacher, filed a notice of intent to circulate petition to the City Clerk’s office on Monday, April 18, with the purpose of amending the ordinance to enact the Alameda Homeowners and Private Property Rights Act. The amendment intends to, among other things, “ensure that property owners can invest in the maintenance and upkeep of their properties.” 

Another issue landlords have is the relocation fee for “no cause” evictions. Matin and Schumacher wrote in their petition they seek to “prohibit the City of Alameda from requiring property owners to subsidize their tenants.”  

Councilmen Tony Daysog filed a petition to stop relocation fees for Alameda property owners who live in Alameda and evict a tenant with the purpose of moving in themselves or moving a family member into a property that they own (“Councilman Attempts to Adjust Rent Ordinance” April 14). 

“Only ‘small mom and pops’ landlords who permanently reside in Alameda are exempt from paying relocation fees,” said Daysog in an email. “And that exemption is for only one specific instance involving family move-in, meaning all other circumstances that trigger relocation fees still apply.”

Matin said another concern was the cost the quick implementation of the ordinance would have on landlords and community.  

“Why not wait to enact the ordinance when the costs are solidified and a revenue stream accurately identified?” said Matin. “We need to work together to create long term solutions to our housing issues. This ordinance is not the correct way to accomplish that goal.”