Tenants score a big win at City Council!

Beverly Hills City Council felt your pain last night. Gone are 10% rent increases and evictions without relocation fees. In a meeting that stretched to beyond midnight, Council heard many persuasive tenant accounts of investing in community only to be tossed out summarily or hounded out by capricious and excessive rent hikes. Around 1 am City Council used a seldom-invoked urgency ordinance to approve critical reforms to the rent stabilization ordinances.

Let’s Cut To The Chase!

Let”s cut to the chase! ALL TENANTS in rental apartments in Beverly Hills will enjoy the following protections from TODAY forward:

  • The maximum allowable annual rent increase is reduced to 3% and made retroactive to cover any tenant who had been served with an increase but has not yet begun paying the higher amount. No more household-busting 10% hikes every year!
  • Substantial relocation payments for involuntary terminations are required and those amounts – wait for it – match Santa Monica’s robust relocation fees. No more empty-handed goodbyes from landlords inclined to evict for no cause at all!
  • Additional relocation money will go to seniors, disabled or children in the household. Those who have made the most important investment in our community — attending the schools and senior centers — have a greater measure of protection.
  • A new registry of rental units allow for city monitoring of landlords and rental arrangements citywide. No more excuses as to why the city can’t ensure the landlord doesn’t re-rent your apartment for a much higher rent after he’s evicted you.

These protections start TODAY. City Council resisted the appeals from landlords to carve-out protections for tenants like seniors or families or low-income households only. These apply to every household. Watch the meeting video.

There’s A New Sheriff In Town

We almost didn’t get these new protections. This fall the Human Relations Commission was taking a go-slow approach to rent stabilization reform. Staff to the commission was recommending watered-down measures. We heard our City Manager play for more time on the rental registry just last night, in fact. And even city staff seemed happy to defer any reduction in the allowed allowed annual rent increase to a time indeterminate.

We almost lost the ball.

But Councilmember Lili Bosse was having none of it. “We want this done tonight,” she said.

There were other suggestions to undermine long-overdue changes to the ordinance. There was talk about sticking tenants with laughably small relocation payments, for example, the same amounts that have been on the books for Chapter 5 tenants for decades.

“These are placeholder figures, right?” Bosse asked. Staff stammered in answering. She said, “It’s way too low. What does Santa Monica offer?” Thirty minutes later City Council had more than quadrupled them in line with Santa Monica’s fees.

Now a no-just-cause eviction for a single or studio tenant will cost the landlord $9k. A one-bedroom eviction means the tenant(s) walk away with $13k. Two-bedroom households get $19k. If a senior, disabled or a kid is in the picture the landlord adds a few thousand more. And those protections begin right now.

City Council will revisit this urgency ordinance within 45 days with a non-urgency ordinance and Council has pledged to wrap up the initial part of the policy process by March.

Time For Gratitude!

As Mayor John Mirisch said, “We’re not an enclave of the super rich – renters are an important part of our community and they’ve been pushed around.” Thank you!

Rocking it was Councilmember Lili Bosse. She kept the pedal to the medal and ensured we got our protections now.

Vice-Mayor Nancy Krasne has long highlighted tenant abuse and has been instrumental in putting the issue in the hands of the commission. Last night she asked each tenant who brought a sad story: “Who’s your landlord or property management company?” She was literally taking names #Trump style. She also pressed for a retroactive policy on the annual cap and relocation fees, but the City Attorney nixed it.

Councilmember Kathy Reims was essential in getting us to this point by hammering on the need for tenant protections in a preceding Council liaison meeting. Councilmember Julian Gold helped move this in the right direction too. Tonight’s vote was unanimous.

I should also thank the Human Relations Commission for trying to do the right thing. Despite staff’s go-slow approach over the past year, the commission recommended real protections for renters. All five attended last night’s meeting. (Rarely does every member of a commission attend any City Council meeting.) Chair Gerald Friedman and Vice-Chair Sonia Berman stayed until the very end.

A special thanks to southeast resident Ramin Zar. He’s been a tireless advocate for tenants and stood up time-and-again for fair treatment especially for seniors. He has attended countless city meetings. And he was in the house last night demanding that the city find a home for a no-cause-evicted senior member of our community (and brought his peeps with him too).

Most importantly, I thank EVERYONE who showed up at last night’s meeting (despite the last-minute notice) and I thank those who took their time to send a comment to City Council (some anonymously – you know who you are!).

Tenants are our own best advocates. It’s important that we stick together.