Everybody Wants Rent Control Update
Despite the bad news from Richmond, folks all over the Bay, the State – even the World – are clamoring for an end to extreme profits and astronomical rent increases. The owners have kept us on the defensive for three decades — how many fronts can they fight on, even with all their money?
The CA Apartment Association – the landlord statewide group – applied all their massive resources to suspend the new Richmond laws, the first new rent control in California in 30 years. Berkeley Property Owners Association put out a “Red Alert” just days before the law was to go into effect, asking Berkeley landlords to support this effort, which reportedly paid gathers over $20 per signature.
Efforts in San Mateo to create just cause eviction protections for renters have also been stalled through efforts from the California Apartment Association.
“Dozens of property owners, real estate agents and representatives from trade associations spoke in opposition noting there are already existing laws governing tenant-landlord contracts. Many noted it can be very difficult to evict a bad tenant — one told an anecdote of it costing nearly $8,000 in legal fees — and requested the city focus on constructing new housing units. Others also feared there would be unintended consequences of such an ordinance, including harming good tenants.”
“Additionally, the CAA is urging it’s members to appear and bring other members from the rental housing industry to the council meeting/s to oppose renter protections. This is the same thing they do when other cities in California consider renter protections…. Painting the working class as possible criminals in the effort to conceal their real activities, such as raking in billions of dollars hand over fist, the CAA knows how to stir up wealthy property owners and the rental housing industry, when humane solutions such as renter protections are being proposed.”
Alameda is the only place I know of with a rent board but no rent control. City officials are discussing changing some of the rent regulations, but tenants are discussing a ballot measure to get some real protections!
Nine of the eleven City Council members voted to “look into” just cause eviction protections, expanding rent control to cover duplexes, eliminating rules that new owners can pass their mortgage costs on to renters, and lowering the annual rent increase from the current eight percent. Berkeley tenants already enjoy these protections.
“San Jose’s rent control only covers about 43,000 units built before 1979 and excludes duplexes. Housing built after 1995 is exempt from rent control under the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, so that leaves apartments built from 1979 to 1995 and all duplexes with no protections.”
“Approval of the staff report and work plan would create a timeline where the Council would consider potential changes to the ARO (apartment-rent ordinance) in December 2015.”
Tenants in Silicon Valley march for rent control – three times!
“Most of the affected residents make $12-$18 per hour, far below what it takes to afford local rents that have in some cases doubled over the past few years.”
Mountain View Tenants Coalition
Council members who opposed rent control said the city just needs to build more housing. All over the world, landlords and developers – often the same people – claim that allowing unbridled development will lower rents. Sound familiar, Berkeley?
“We spent $800,000 on a fish fountain. We can spend some money to help renters in Santa Rosa.”
Owners in Healdsburg pledged to limit rent increases to “only” 10 percent in order to stop the city from discussing rent control.
“It’s nonbinding. It’s pointless,” said Christine Webster, a disabled woman facing a 65 percent increase in rent for the one-bedroom duplex close to downtown that she’s lived in for the past decade.”
Santa Monica is the California city with a tenant protection ordinance most like Berkeley’s own. Ellis Act evictions are on the rise in Berkeley, with landlord advocate Michael St. John actively encouraging them in a recent BPOA newsletter, but in Santa Monica, there are so many that the City Council is discussing a moratorium.
Seattle City Council is discussing asking the state of Washington to end the state ban on rent control. Washington is one of at least 30 states in the US which do not allow any municipalities to create rent control laws.
Burlington citizens debate rent control, supply-and-demand, in the press.
“Of course, as long as the city is run by developers and landlords, rent control will not even be discussed.”
Jersey City tenants call for changes to preserve their rent control.
“Real estate investors… are aggressively using the vacancy capital improvement provision in Chapter 260 of the rent control ordnance to increase the rent of vacated apartments by over 30 percent.”
Tenants Together has been warning about the securitization of rents here in California, but Singapore is way ahead of us, with leaders not only calling for rent control but also a limit to land holdings by REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts).
Scotland had rent control until the Thatcher years; leaders are preparing to introduce laws which would allow rent regulation in places where the rents are rising most rapidly.
“Rent controls enjoy broad popular support, with a Survation poll conducted in January this year finding that only 6.8 per cent of the public are “somewhat” or “strongly” against the controls. 59 per cent of those polls said they somewhat or strongly supported the state being able to control what landlords take from tenants each month.”
Berlin got rent control on June 1st. Rents dropped immediately.
“The average cost of new Berlin rental contracts has dropped 3.1 percent within a month. This can’t be written off as an example of a general countrywide downward trend. In other German cities where such laws haven’t yet been introduced, rents have remained more or less static.”