Improve Our Housing
In order to support the City Council’s consideration of changes to Berkeley’s Rental Housing Safety Program on November 17, Berkeley Tenants Union is asking renters to photograph substandard housing conditions.
It would be great if you would send the photographs directly to the City Council with your story. Yet BTU knows that many tenants fear retaliation. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can send photographs to the Tenants Union by November 13 and we will forward them to the City Council without your name.
Councilman Arreguin’s important proposal to re-examine the City’s Rental Housing Safety Program will be ITEM 23 at Council on November 17.
Fixing this City program, which enforces safe and habitable rental housing, has been in the spotlight ever since the balcony collapse at Library Gardens, a building less than 10 years old. Berkeley has been talking for years about the need for the common-sense measures in Arreguin’s proposal – measures which most other cities already have!
Under the proposed revamp of the Rental Housing Safety Program, Berkeley inspectors would do proactive, cyclical inspections which would detect problems like the one at Library Gardens. Right now, inspectors only visit rental housing if there is a complaint.
Right now, owners also know exactly which tenant made that complaint! This proposal would allow the name to remain confidential, so tenants would have less fear of retaliation.
Besides proactive inspections and confidential complaints, proposed tweaks to the RHSP would also make mold and mildew a public nuisance, and require landlords to actually turn in the self-inspection they are supposed to do each year.
These enhancements would be paid for mostly through increased fees and fines for those who do not correct violations within 30 days of being cited by code enforcement. The proposal also opens up the possibility of increasing the RHSP program fee from $26 to about $32 – that could pay for two new employees for the program.
Write to City Council in support of revamping the Rental Housing Safety Program (Item 23) care of the clerk (clerk@CityofBerkeley.info), or send your photos to BTU for us to forward (info at berkeley tenants dott org) by next Friday.