On the City Council agenda on Tuesday, which will make the City Council meeting super long so the City Council should probably be prepared to bump those Referrals again, will be an update on the Rent Ordinance passed last year. It’s hard to say that the ordinance passed has been a complete success from the perspective of a renter since there was the whole attempt to pass a Rent Control initiative in the November election, but it certain falls under the “something is better than nothing” category.
Per the staff report here are some of the highlights from the annual report:
- An average of 432 landlord/tenant calls, e-mails, appointments per month
- 1,978 unique (unduplicated) interactions with individuals and 5,184 duplicated contacts and interactions
- Three mailers to 14,000+ residents and landlords (42,000 pieces of mail)
- 64 workshops, trainings and clinics attended by over 550 landlords and tenants
- 456 rent increase submissions, 434 of which were initiated by landlords for rent increases above 5%, and 22 of which were for rent increases of 5% or less, initiated by tenants
- 248 rent increases resolved prior to a RRAC hearing, 52% of which resulted in rent increases of 5% or less and 33% of which resulted in rent increases of 5.1%-10%
- 23 cases heard by RRAC, of which seven cases resulted in rent increases of less than 5%, 12 resulted in rent increases between 5.1%-10%, and four resulted in rent increases above 10%
- 0 cases heard by RRAC and appealed to the City Council or to a hearing officer
- 62 valid termination notices, 32 of which were for no cause (52%) and 22 of which were for owner move-in (35%), and 8 were for going out of the rental business (13%), and verifying payment of relocation benefits
Some of the items that jump out are the large percentage of rent increases above 5%. Nearly 70% of renter interactions with the RRAC resulted in rent increase recommendations of more than 5%. That seems unfortunate, particularly since those renters are going to a purportedly balanced body asking for some measure of relief.
Based on feedback from both renters and landlords, as well as assessment of the program, staff is recommending the following issues that need addressing, there are recommended solutions, but I’ll just outline the problems since the City Council will be the ones to determine the policy solution:
- No relocation fees required at the conclusion of a fixed-term lease aka relocation fee loophole
- No cause eviction percentages are imprecise
- Relocation fees in situation that there is a government order to vacate unit
- How, when, where relocation fees must be paid
Staff is also recommending that City Council adopt a fee to be able to pay for Rent Program. This is something that they should have done when the program first began, but for some inexplicable reason decided not to. Additionally a fee program would also the City control over data collection about the true state of the rental housing market in Alameda. If the concern is that the cost will be passed along to the tenant, then it could be exempt from one of the expenses that can be passed to the tenant and would simply be a cost of business operations.