Council seeks additional protections for Concord renters

CONCORD — With the Bay Area’s housing crisis showing no
signs of abating, the Concord City Council this week directed staff
to add protections for tenants in the city’s rental housing
ordinance.

Roughly eight months after the council
refused to inject rent-control and just-cause eviction
provisions
into a
proposed overhaul of renter protection policies
, it revisited
both at Tuesday’s meeting in the wake of a new state law, AB
1482, that took effect at the beginning of this year. The state law
set a cap on rent increases for apartment buildings older than 15
years and requires landlords to justify evictions of tenants who
have lived in a unit more than a year.

To complement the state law, the council suggested beefing up
the city’s rental ordinance by boosting the amount of relocation
assistance provided to tenants forced to move for certain reasons
out of their control, such as when the landlord needs to renovate
the unit or move into it.

While AB 1482 requires owners to provide one month’s worth of
rent in relocation assistance in those cases, Concord council
members said more should be paid — either $5,000 or twice the
current monthly rent, whichever is greater. Relocation assistance
still wouldn’t be required if tenants are evicted for violating
their lease terms, engaging in criminal activity inside the unit or
refusing to give the owner access to it.

The city ordinance also should require landlords to offer
tenants a 12-month lease, although renters don’t have to agree to
it if they want more flexibility, council members said.

The ordinance also should abolish the Concord Residential Rent
Review Program, which was created to help mediate rent-increase
disputes between tenants and landlords. Although council members
last summer discussed giving that program more teeth, they decided
Tuesday the new state law’s rent cap of 5 percent plus annual
cost-of-living inflation would make the program unnecessary.

As in past meetings during the
years-long rent control debate in Concord
, tenants and property
owners peppered the council with their competing concerns during
Tuesday night’s three-hour discussion of rent policies.

While landlords and a representative from the California
Apartment Association urged the council to refrain from adding yet
more rules to rent policies, tenants and their advocates implored
that more be done.

“AB 1482 is a new law and very confusing,” said David
Schubb, a real estate agent and property owner. “I would ask that
the council withhold any actions for some period of time to allow
the new law to take effect.”

But advocates with Raise the Roof, a coalition that has pushed
for stronger renter protections, sought at least $8,999 in tenant
relocation assistance to cover steep security deposits and move-in
payments. They also asked that the just-cause eviction provision
apply to everyone, not just tenants who have lived there at least a
year.

“We’ve been asking for rent stabilization and just cause for
these last four years because we think this is the real
(solution),” Raise the Roof’s Kristi Laughlin told the council.
“This is not what’s on the table tonight.”

With the exception of Vice Mayor Dominic Aliano and
Councilmember Edi Birsan, however, the council majority opposed
having just-cause eviction apply to everyone immediately.

The advocates also urged the council to establish a rent
registry with information about what landlords are charging, where
the evictions are happening and other data. The state Legislature
shot down a similar, state-wide registry.

Concord housing officials said in a memo that the city’s
current business license software is too limited to collect that
information and updating it would be too costly and
complicated.

Staff is expected to return to the council in May with a
proposed ordinance reflecting its suggested changes to the rent
control ordinance.

 

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Council seeks additional protections for Concord renters