Slow Progress on Rental Unit Registration

City Council recently received an update: landlords have only registered four-out-of-five of their properties to date with perhaps 1100 units still unregistered. Yet just 7% of notices sent to property owners were kicked back suggesting that there there is still some significant proportion of landlords that are choosing not to register.

The numbers provided in the November 21st report suggest that landlords of smaller properties may be simply less inclined to register their rental units. Duplex owners in particular seem to be lagging. For example, duplexes comprise 18% of rental properties in Beverly Hills but they represent one-third of all unregistered properties.

By comparison, the number of unregistered triplex and fourplex properties are in line with their proportion of the total rental stock (6% and 19% respectively).

Larger properties, in contrast, are more likely to be registered: 40% of 5-unit-and-larger properties are not registered though they represent nearly 60% of rental properties.

This table compares the proportion that each property size represent of the total rental stock against the proportion of unregistered properties for that category. The figures are derived by Renters Alliance using the city’s initial tallies of rental housing according to unit-count.

Type Unregistered Total # Unregistered
Duplex 71 210 34%
Triplex 14 66 21%
Fourplex 41 191 21%
5+ units 90 664 14%
13+ units 6 160 3.5%

Small-Property Owners Lag

The city’s registration totals show that duplexes are approximately six times more likely not to be registered relative to their total number than are the larger (13+ units) properties.

Why are smaller rental properties disproportionately not registered? It might reflect the hard-core opposition among smaller property owners to the registry. Anecdotally resistance to the registry has been more pronounced among the small-property owners (and duplex owners in particular) who took the lead in anti-RSO advocacy.

In contrast we didn’t hear a peep from Sterling Co. or other corporate owners about the changes to the rent stabilization ordinance. That was very unexpected. But we did hear plenty of grousing from smaller, longtime owners who even too the city to court to invalidate the registry (and the program more generally). The court declined to invalidate the rental unit registration requirement.

We will see what our City Council says on Tuesday when it discusses the issue. It may penalize non-compliant owners by, say, tying the allowed annual rent increases to a completed registration for the property.