Alameda Adopts Rent and Eviction Limitations
The Alameda City Council passed a rent and eviction limitation ordinance, on March 1, after a succession of marathon meetings that lasted until the wee hours of the mornings.
The McConnell Group, a nationally respected housing advocacy firm, was instrumental in helping the Alameda City Council craft an ordinance that protects tenants from predatory financial evictions, while safeguarding landlords’ rights to raise rents.
The newly minted ordinance protects tenants from unjust rent increases. It also prohibits financially motivated evictions while avoiding Just Cause Eviction legislation, practiced in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, which place significant restraints on landlords’ ability to manage their properties and remove bad tenants.
The McConnell Group was hired by Alamedans for Fair Rents, whose focus is to provide decent, affordable rental housing to Alameda residents. We reviewed various proposals from tenant and landlord groups, legislation in other cities, and California’s landmark Costa Hawkins Act before crafting a plan for Alameda. We met with Alameda elected and appointed officials on several occasions, and conducted a poll to assess the mood of voters on escalating housing prices and evictions.
Rent Increase Limitations
The poll showed Alameda likely voters were concerned about skyrocketing rents. They supported a temporary 8% cap on rent increases passed by Council in November 2015, which was designed to give the city council time to craft a permanent solution.
The new ordinance allows landlords to increase rents by 5%, by right, and allows them to petition for a greater increase based upon capital improvements, substantial renovations, history of low or no increases, and other reasons.
The McConnell Group fought just cause proposals and recommended a law prohibiting housing providers from evicting tenants without cause just to raise rents on new tenants. We chose this approach after a poll showed that voters would support just cause if nothing was done about evictions.
It is clear that neither housing providers nor tenants are fully in support of the new ordinance. Nevertheless, this creative approach addresses the two major issues, rent and eviction limitations, without adopting stringent rent control or Just Cause Evictions.
We have heard that some members of the tenant community and the landlord community are considering ballot measures to override Council’s decision. Those tenants want very stringent rent control. The landlords want no controls at all. The McConnell Group believes that Council’s action is a balanced approach uniquely tailored to Alameda’s housing market and we support the new ordinance.