Have you visited the city’s rent stabilization website but didn’t find much about the ongoing, two-year reform of the rent stabilization ordinance? We feel your pain! That’s why we’ve posted this page. And that’s why we’ve created Renters Alliance: to keep residents who rent in Beverly Hills informed about the policy process. Here we suggest some steps that may lay ahead on the road to a better rent stabilization ordinance.
The Near-Term: A New Rent Stabilization Commission
Over the past several months Hills City Council has reached consensus on several key issues: termination for ‘disruptive’ tenants; an exemption from rent stabilization for owner-occupied duplexes; and annual registration of rental units (to name a few).
Other issues that have not been resolved by City Council include the maximum allowed annual rent increase; a controversial ‘probationary tenancy’ provision that makes the first year of the lease a trial period after which the tenant may be terminated without a relocation fee; a new relocation fee schedule; and costs that may be passed-through to tenants.
To resolve these issues and more, City Council has created a new Rent Stabilization Commission comprised of two tenants, two landlords and two ‘neutral’ members to recommend to City Council policy changes to the rent stabilization ordinance. We expect a commission will be stood up by July and commission business to begin shortly after. There is much for the new commissioners to do.
Once the new rent stabilization ordinance is adopted, the commission will go on to hear disputes related to habitability, adjudicate terminations for ‘disruptive’ tenants, and consider hardship appeals from landlords can’t pay the full relocation fee when displacing a household for use of the apartment.
The commission application window closes on May 24th, and that means a brief hiatus on the public aspect of the rent stabilization policy process.
The Medium-Term: Program Improvements
Though the policy process is on something of a hiatus, that doesn’t mean that Renters Alliance won’t keep busy pressing for a more robust rent stabilization program. That means listening to tenants to learn if the program is serving us well. It also means advocating for increased staffing come budget time and (always) begging for improvements in the public face of the program: the website and public outreach.
Renters Alliance will also keep up our policy advocacy for tenants in areas including:
- Supporting new policies that will prioritize rental housing over the construction of condominiums;
- Requiring some minimum proportion of all new residential developments to be permanently designated as ‘affordable’ with affordable rents;
- Ensuring that displaced senior tenants can find replacement housing here in Beverly Hills;
- Maximizing incentives to maintain and preserve the relatively-affordable small- and medium-sized rental properties that serve our community;
- Minimizing incentives that encourage developers to raze those properties for market-rate, non-RSO housing that destabilizes and negatively affects the character of our community; and,
- Keeping an eye on all city programs to ensure that where tenants are concerned those programs work for us, and not against us.
Longer-Term: A New Rent Stabilization Ordinance
Renters Alliance got active in the landlord-tenant policy process in January of 2017 because we saw rent stabilization reform going sideways (as it has too often in the past). Our ultimate objective has always been a better ordinance. We are in striking distance now and we have to keep at it.
Once the new Rent Stabilization Commission is up and running we will have our say in the process, but once it wraps the real work begins again: advocating for tenant interests at City Council. This year will be all about getting the protections we were too long denied. Indeed the long-term stability of renting households in Beverly Hills depends on it.
At the same time we want to see the Rent Stabilization Program continue to improve. We will be there to support increased staffing and better processes in areas such as:
- Rental unit registration;
- Code enforcement in multifamily areas;
- Business tax licensing and collection;
- Tenant-landlord mediation and dispute resolution; and,
- Effective program performance measures and regular reporting of outcomes.
In the meantime, Renters Alliance welcomes your participation as we try to grow the tenant ‘bench.’ Please get in touch with the Alliance and sign up for our email updates. Let us know how we can help.
The rent stabilization staff welcome your call about disputes with the landlord or code violations. Call (310) 285-1031 or email BHrent@beverlyhills.org.