Watch Out for Rent Control in Pasadena and AB-1506! – by Patricia Harris

With permission from AOA (Apartment Owners Association)

Following in the footsteps of tenant groups in Glendale and Long Beach, a Pasadena group has also filed preliminary paperwork to place a rent control initiative on an upcoming ballot.

The Pasadena ballot measure would:

  • establish a city-run rental housing board
  • limit rent increases, and
  • force the city to adopt “just-cause” eviction policies — which would limit the number of reasons a landlord could evict a tenant

Glendale and Long Beach

Ballot initiative for rent control in Glendale and Long Beach were rejected in November of last year.  The petitions were deemed “deficient and invalid” for several reasons.  Submitted petitions did not include the text of the measure, several sections had pages glued and pasted on top of each other, whited out and/or violated the California Election Code. Rent control advocates in both places say they plan on refilling the paper work.

The Southern California cities that have adopted rent control ordinances are Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.  Over the last two years, Pasadena, Glendale, Inglewood and Long Beach have begun fighting to add their cities to that list.

AB 1506 – Costa Hawkins Repeal

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins”) is a California state law, enacted in 1995, which places limits on municipal rent control ordinances. Costa-Hawkins preempts the field in two major ways:

  • First, it prohibits cities from establishing rent control over certain kinds of residential units (e.g., single family dwellings, and newly constructed units, which are both deemed exempt).
  • Second, it prohibits municipal “vacancy control”, also called “strict” rent control. In the vacancy control of an apartment, a city’s ordinance works to deny or limit an owner’s ability to increase the rental amount to new tenant(s), even in cases where the prior tenant(s) voluntarily vacated the apartment or were evicted for cause (such as failing to pay rent). In other words Costa-Hawkins, by now prohibiting vacancy control in the above circumstances, mandates that cities allow an apartment owner the right to rent it when vacant at any price (i.e., market price).

AB 156 was the biggest threat to property owners since rent control itself.  It was a proposed measure to repeal a state law that bars rent caps on units built after 1995. If it had passed, it would make it easier for these other cities to enact rent control laws.

Hopefully, they won’t continue to try and get more legal signatures.  In the meantime, tell all of your friends not to sign any of this tenant welfare nonsense when they are approached at the grocery store and other places!

Patricia Harris is Senior Editor of the Apartment Owners Association News and Buyers Guide.0

SCEP INSPECTIONS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASCEP (pronounced “skep”), requires that multi-family rental properties with two or more occupied units be inspected on a scheduled basis (current schedule is once every three years). Inspections are done to ensure that the units are safe and habitable.

For more information about the Systematic Code Enforcement Program, call the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department’s Information and Complaint Line at (866) 557-7368.

Inspectors from the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department schedule each property for a thorough inspection and those properties that do not meet City and State codes are cited. Inspectors identify habitability problems which fall under Section 1941.1 of the California Civil Code, the Uniform Housing Code of the State of California, or the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

The Department attempts to provide a 30-day notice for scheduled inspections. Shorter time frames may be imposed for properties referred by an inspector or other enforcement agency. If the inspector finds that a property does not meet City and State codes, a “Notice to Comply” is issued. Property owners are given 30 days (or less depending on severity of the violations) to have the needed repairs completed. A re-inspection is done to verify that the corrective work was done.

If deficiencies are not corrected in the time specified on the Notice to Comply, the owner will be summoned to an administrative hearing (known as a “General Manager’s Hearing“) to determine the reason for non-compliance. Based on the determination and the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the owner may be required to refund the Department for all inspection and administrative costs after the first re-inspection. The Hearing Officer may also determine that the case be recommended for criminal prosecution. Other enforcement measures include Rent Reduction, Rent Escrow Account Program, and Property Management Training classes.

A tenant does not need to wait for the regularly scheduled inspection if a unit or common area needs repairs that the property owner is aware of, and fails to make. In such cases, a complaint may be filed with the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department. Tenants cannot be evicted for filing complaints, and there is no fee for filing a complaint.

Property owners are charged $43.32 per unit, per year whether or not the units are inspected during that year. The fee is paid to the Los Angeles Housing Department once every year. The fee covers a rental housing habitability inspection and one re-inspection if a Notice to Comply is issued. Additional fees may be charged for owners who fail to comply and cause the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department to incur additional staff time and costs for services.