Culver City Observer -

Culver City Council Approves New Rent Control Ordinance

 

September 24, 2020

The City Council this week took one final step toward adopting a new comprehensive rent control ordinance in Culver City.

At a marathon meeting Monday night, Councilmembers voted 4-1 to introduce two rent control and tenant

protections ordinances. The dissenting vote was cast by Mayor Goran Eriksson. With the Council's action, Culver

City reportedly becomes the last city in the greater LA area to offer tenants protections beyond the minimum

measures mandated by the state.

The Council is expected to adopt the permanent rent control measures at a legally required second reading at its next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Once approved, the new ordinances would take effect October 30. The proposed ordinances include provisions about no-fault evictions, permissible rent increases, rent registry, "mom and pop" landlords and renovation/relocation fees for tenants.

The issue of permanent rent control was raised on July 16, when the Council voted 4-1 to extend the Interim rent control Ordinance (IRCO) until Oct. 31. At that meeting, councilmembers began discussing an outline of provisions and regulations to extend rent control indefinitely.

At numerous Council meetings dealing with IRCO, many local landlords called the rent control proposal "a sham" and a "regressive law beyond draconian" while others blasted the Council for "trying to railroad us" with rent control before the Nov. 3 election. Protect Culver City, a group of local business owners and landlords, garnered enough signatures to place an initiative, Measure B, on November 3 ballot, giving the voters to final word on the issue of rent control in Culver City.

On the other hand, representatives Protect Culver City Renters, a group advocating for renter protections, voiced their support for permanent rent control program and called on Council to limit rent increases to CPI, provide renovation/relocation fees for tenants as well as other rental protection measures.

Among other stipulations, the new rent control ordinance calls for the following:

- Permitted annual rent increases will be set to the consumer price index (CPI), the same metric used to adjust Social Security and other programs in order to keep up with inflation.

- If CPI is less than 2%, maximum annual rent increase is 2%. If CPI is more than 5%, maximum annual rent increase is 5%.

- Landlords can pass on half the cost of enhancements to tenants, but they cannot exceed 3% of the rent and must be improvements, not regular maintenance.

- Tenant is evicted based on "no fault" grounds, with the following limitation: if vacated for landlord's relative to move-in, the unit must remain relative's primary residence for three years.

- All rental units must be registered with the City.

Under the tenant protections measure, renters would also be granted many protections, including the following:

- Evictions must be based on "for cause" or "no fault" grounds.

- "For cause" includes failure to pay rent; breach of rental agreement; failure to provide reasonable access to unit; tenant's use of unit to create a nuisance or for an illegal purpose; tenant was the resident manager who has been terminated.

- "No fault" includes: demolish; remove from rental market; move-in landlord or landlord's relative, provided they must continue to occupy property for at least 3 years; comply with deed or regulatory restriction.

- Tenants protected from eviction include: long-term tenants who are 62 years old or disabled; terminally ill tenants; low-income tenants; tenants with school-aged children protected during the school year.

- After a tenant has been in a unit for a year, landlords must pay three months market rent plus $1000 in the case of a "no-fault" eviction, except for "mom and pop" landlords.

- "Small Landlords" (defined as those owning 3 units or less within and outside of Culver City) shall only

pay 50% of the amount of relocation assistance otherwise due.

- Landlords may not raise the rent to market rate after a no-fault eviction and are required to provide lodging

for tenants forced to leave their units during renovations.

"These are very strong protections, based on what has worked in other communities," said Protect Culver City

Renters in a statement. "However, these renter protections are already in danger. Measure B was placed on

the November ballot by the curiously named Protect Culver City, a PAC formed in reaction to the passage of the

rent freeze. It is funded largely by out-of-town landlord and real estate money. If passed, Measure B will repeal the

new rent control ordinance and require any future rent control to be passed by ballot initiative."

"After hearing from hundreds of residents, including renters, landlords, homeowners, and

other stakeholders, and considering the best professional and academic research, Culver City has finally taken action

to aid renters and prevent displacement," the renter's group continued. "Protect Culver City Renters appreciates the

support of the community for this historic win, and wants to express our solidarity with others working for housing

justice."

 

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