Rent Review Advisory Committee

 

The Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) is the body designated by the City Council to resolve rent disputes between residents and landlords. It is the first line of defense for residents facing excessive rent increases and the forum that landlords are required to present their cases in to get city approval for rent increases of more than 5 percent. 

 

First of all, let’s be clear here. I am not going to discuss the relative merits of either of the two rent control measures on November’s ballot. I want to report how Ordinance 3148 is working, based solely on my experience as a Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) member during the time that it was enacted on March 31 — just over six months ago.

 

City Council decided not to implement a funding plan that would have determined how to allocate the cost of the Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance at its meeting on June 21.

The rent ordinance, which came into effect March 31, is projected to cost $1.95 million annually, according to Alameda Community Development Director Debbie Potter and SCI Consulting Group, a Fairfield-based consulting firm that assists public agencies with establishment and administration of taxes, assessments, fees and other special levies. 

The City Council is scheduled to consider the Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance at its Feb. 16 meeting. If passed, the ordinance would require landlords to offer one-time, one-year leases to prospective or in-place tenants. The new ordinance would not allow landlords to increase rents more than once in a 12-month period. 

The Alameda city staff released its principles of agreement detailing precise guidelines for the proposed Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance. The ordinance will be presented to the City Council at its Feb. 16 meeting.

Regarding rent increases, the agreement states that housing providers shall not increase rents more than once every 12 months. However, there will be no cap on an increase if it is allowed during the hearing process. Landlords will, however, have to go through a rent review process. 

For more than a year, Mayor Trish Spencer and the City Council have insisted that the Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) is to play a key role in easing the rent crisis in Alameda. 

In response, in late October and early November of this year, the Alameda Renters Coalition proposed a series of RRAC reforms to the Mayor, Council and to the RRAC itself. Implementing these reforms is critical if the RRAC is to be successful and if the Mayor and Council hope to ever win the trust of renters with regard to the RRAC.