Speak Up for the Registry & Roundtables

This coming Thursday City Council will continue discussing reforms to the rent stabilization ordinance by focusing on two issues: a rental unit registry of rent-stabilized properties and proposed facilitated roundtable discussions to bring residents and landlords together for an equitable rent stabilization ordinance. Get ready for an important meeting!

This Thursday’s meeting will show how proactive is City Council when it comes to tenant protections. And it is clear that we want City Hall to be more proactive. How City Council directs the Community Development Department to proceed on two significant issues will send a message to those who rent: how seriously does the city take rental housing protections?

The Registry

The registry is an essential tool for any rent-stabilized city because it allows a city to monitor compliance with rent stabilization policies. Here in Beverly Hills we have 8,600 units to track. But until now, our city had no accounting of the actual number of units (much less the rents paid). The city simply followed up on any complaint as it came in from a tenant. Read the staff report for more about what’s on the Council agenda.

Consider these examples of how the lack of a registry worked against landlord accountability:

  • Rents were limited to a 10% annually but no program or staffer ever documented the rents actually being charged;
  • City Hall could not routinely follow up after a ‘no just cause’ termination to ensure that the rent was not increased because the city’s didn’t often know about those terminations;
  • Few (if any) landlords were sanctioned for violations of the city’s rent stabilization policies because it was the honor system for thirty years.

However, landlords (and their lobbyist) are working to undermine the registry. They  invoke privacy concerns to argue against the tracking of rents. They say the cost of compliance is too high.

They also claim that a rental registry would impact mom-and-pop landlords. But many of our landlords are not even ‘mom-and-pops.’ But Thursday’s staff report notes that 6-in-10 rental properties in Beverly Hills fall outside of the mom-and-pop category (defined by City of Los Angeles as four or fewer units).

You can contact City Council to let our representatives know that it is important that database & registry be done right. Please and contact Renters Alliance with any questions you may have about how to make your case to City Council. I will be happy to help focus your input!

Next Steps in the Rent Stabilization Process

The other key decision item before City Council is the public facilitated roundtable(s) process. What will these roundtables look like? How many will there be? Councilmember John Mirisch floated the idea of facilitated discussions as has expressed an interest to pair tenants and landlords in a dialogue to find mutually-agreeable solutions. Let’s see what Council has in mind.

Alternately, on Thursday City Council may create an ad-hoc committee on rent stabilization to hammer out the particulars. Who would sit on that ad-hoc rent stabilization committee? Mayor Lilis Bosse should join Mirisch on the ad-hoc.

How You Can Help

Looking ahead to the Thursday, April 20th City Council meeting, please let City Council know that you value a comprehensive database & registry to hold landlords accountable. We want an effective registry that collects all available rental unit information including unit size, whether utilities are included, and, importantly, the current rent and begin/end date of every tenancy; as well as which units have been removed from the market because they are owner-occupied, relative occupied, or manager-occupied.