Renters Rally at Council
City staff proposed several clarifying amendments of the Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance at an extended City Council meeting Friday, April 7. The proposed changes were not recommended to overhaul the ordinance, but to fix certain discrepancies.
For example, under the original ordinance landlords are not required to pay a relocation fee if a lease agreement has expired. Staff said some landlords are using a loophole by offering tenants multiple short, fixed-term leases (i.e. less than a year) at the end of an initial one-year lease agreement. This allows a unit to still be occupied, while keeping the ability to not renew an agreement and raise the price once it is vacated.
The staff recommendation will force landlords to offer just one short, fixed-term agreement after an initial lease agreemen. Any agreement thereafter must be for at least a year.
Other proposed amendments include redefining the number of allowable “no cause” terminations. The amendment states if a property has seven to 10 occupied units, a landlord may utilize one monthly and two annual “no cause” evictions. For properties with six or fewer occupied units, one annual.
Also, staff proposed revisions to eliminate the payment of relocation fees when a governmental order to vacate has been issued through no fault of the landlord, (e.g. natural disasters). Staff also recommended landlords distribute one-half of the relocation fee three business days from when the tenant notifies the landlord the tenant will vacate on the day set forth in the notice to vacate. The other half is due within three business days of the vacate day for “no cause” and “no fault” evictions.
The amendments come around the one-year anniversary of the ordinance taking effect. City Council implemented the ordinance, on a temporary basis, on March 31, 2016. The ordinance was confirmed at the November election when Measure L1, Rent Stabilization Act, passed with 11,954 “yes” votes.
City staff released the ordinance’s annual report on April 4. The report revealed, among other things, that there were 456 rent payment increases submitted by landlords. Only 22 were an increase of less than 5 percent, while 149 submissions were for more than 5 percent. There were also 87 termination of tenancy submissions, with just 62 deemed valid by the Rent Review Advisory Committee.
The amendment agenda was to be heard at the Tuesday, April 4, City Council meeting, but the meeting ran long. Council reconvened on Friday.
To view the rent ordinance annual report or the proposed amendments, visit the city’s website https://alamedaca.gov.