On Tuesday night the City Council met to talk about yet another issue of an over-inflated rent increase. Although apparently this particular tenant was so less sympathetic than the other families possibly because he was the only one and this is one of those single room occupancy type places instead of an apartment apartment.
The SRO is above McGees on Park Street and is owned by the person who owns McGees. Essentially the tenant has been living there a long time has had periodic rent increases, but nothing on a regular basis, on July 1 of this year the his rent was raised from $400 to $600, a $200 rental increase. This rent increase is similar in scale to the rent increase that happened earlier this year. Now $200 may not seem like a lot to some people, but for folks on a fixed income a 66% (or 50%) rent increase is akin to an eviction.
While I understand the position of the owner in that he hasn’t increased rent in a long time, trying to make up for not make smaller more frequent rent increases by dumping a 66% (or 50%) rent increase on someone’s head is not the way it should be done either.
The issue here is the last time around the City Council warned that if there were many more of these rent increases then it might be time for rent control for Alameda because the issue is that the Rent Review Advisory Board, the body that takes care of these mattes, has no teeth. It has zero authority. It has zero ability to levy any sort of fine on owners for not complying. Essentially it relies on the good will of everyone participating to make it work.
Problem is, if someone is willing to raise someone’s rent 66% (or 50%) the likelihood of them willingly complying with something a toothless entity is asking them to do is pretty slim. And the owner and manager of the SRO pretty much said that when asked why they didn’t participate in the process. They didn’t participate because they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to because there is no penalty for not participating. When asked at the end if they would be willing to talk with the Rent Review Advisory Board after the City Council asked many questions, they still declined.
Of course we don’t know if this tenant is a problem tenant, and it’s notoriously hard to actually get someone evicted particularly if they are along time tenant. But the thing is if this sort of outlandish rent hikes continue there is going to be a push in this city which is made up of a fair number of renters to have some sort of rent control in place to avoid these sort of things. So landlords, don’t ruin it for other landlords. Be fair with you rent increases.
Just FYI for the landlords out there if you don’t want to get a nasty gram from the Rent Review Advisory Board they recommend slight annual increases and will be okay with a 10% increase if the market is good. If rents are declining they will give your 10% the side eye.