Library Moves to Collect Old Fines Days Before Discontinuing Overdue Fines

Beverly Hills library collects a fine of 25¢ for each day that an adult book, CD or DVD is overdue. Those quarters add up and some households are in debt. Now the city is serious about collecting. Last week borrowers in arrears received an emailed notice threatening to refer that debt to a collection agency…with only ten days notice and an additional 40% added for referring it to collections. Libraries around the country have discontinued overdue fines and — wait for it! — so has our library as of July 1st. So why put the strong-arm on households in the 11th hour?

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My Rundown of the 2022 Beverly Hills Candidates

The choices tenants make at the ballot box will affect the affordability and availability of rental housing for years to come. This election cycle there are three of five City Council seats open. Incumbents stand a good chance of winning reelection. But if the composition of Council changes significantly we may find it tougher to win the continued improvements to the rent stabilization ordinance that we need for sufficient protections in this difficult time. Often I am asked which candidates I support. Here is my personal guide to the candidates.

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Why Does My Multifamily Alley Look Like Rubbish?

Here is a question many multifamily residents ask themselves every time they drop a bag of trash in a busted-up refuse bin: Why are so many of these giant black containers cracked, broken or missing a lid entirely? These cans, along with the proliferation of dirt and debris, make our multifamily alleys look like a rubbish bin. Won’t anyone in City Hall give a crap about the crap in our alleys?

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Our Take: Extend the Moratorium and Scratch the Lost Rent Increases

City Council today will discuss whether and when to wind down the city’s COVID-era moratoria on evictions and rent increases. Council will also discuss whether and how to allow landlords to recapture rent increases denied by the moratorium. From our perspective this is not a tough call: extend the moratoria to at least May 31st in order to align our policy with certain state and county timelines and close the door on lost rent increases. The benefit to COVID-affected tenants is significant and while the impact on landlords appears marginal.

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‘Fit for Human Habitation’ is Too Low a Habitability Standard

Beverly Hills needs a local habitability standard! Today the city defaults to the state law’s requirement: residential must be fit for human habitation. That is a low bar and most landlords meet it. But some problem landlords fail to maintain their property and then pocket the savings as profit. Case in point: 421 South Maple Drive in Beverly Hills. From the outside it is appealing to an apartment shopper. But poor conditions inside were a reminder that we hold very low expectations for the state of rental housing in Beverly Hills — and some landlords even fail to meet them.

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Courier Gets It Wrong: Relocation Fees Would Fall, Not Rise

Again the Beverly Hills Courier gets it wrong. A recent report says the Rent Stabilization Commission’s recommended change to Beverly Hills relocation fees would result in higher compensation for most tenants. Not true: nine out of ten households would receive a lower fee — as much as several thousand dollars less — while some households would see their compensation further slashed if they rent from a ‘mom-and-pop’ landlord. We try to correct the record with this letter to the editor but the “Newspaper of Record for Beverly Hills” declined to print it.

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RSO Basics and Updates Webinar: Our Review

Beverly Hills rent stabilization division this week hosted a webinar Q&A titled RSO Basics and Updates. It is the latest virtual ‘training’ on tenant and landlord responsibilities. Helen Morales, deputy director of the rent stabilization division, walked through the basics: history of the rent stabilization ordinance, reasons for no-fault termination, the city’s moratorium and more. Dry stuff mostly, but there are a few nuggets to highlight before we render our verdict.

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Governor Gavin Newsom Must Not Be Recalled

On September 14th voters will answer the question that could change the direction of the Golden State: Should we recall Governor Gavin Newsom? For those of us who rent housing the answer is NO. This governor has been there for us. He signed legislation to extend rent control throughout the state and wrangled the legislature to send to his desk not only one eviction moratorium but three of them. Whatever one thinks of masks and mandates it seems clear that the governor has put public health at the forefront of the state’s response to the pandemic. In my book that alone is a ground to oppose a recall.

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AB 889: More Transparency on Rental Housing Providers

Assembly Bill 889 introduced by Assemblymember Gipson in February would require landlords who hold rental property in the name of a corporation or limited liability company to identify the beneficial owners to the California Secretary of State. Renters Alliance supports full disclosure of ownership interests and so does Beverly Hills: the city’s legislative liaison committee agreed to support the bill in Sacramento. Let’s take a look at AB 889 and why we support it.

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The Challenge of Holding a Nuisance Landlord to Account

State law says that a tenant who is “maintaining, committing, or permitting the maintenance or commission of a nuisance” on the premises has effectively terminated his lease. The landlord can petition the court for restitution of possession of the premises upon serving the tenant only a 3-day notice. It is an effective means of dealing with the nuisance and preserving the quiet enjoyment of the premises for both landlord and other tenants. But no provision in state law protects tenants when it is the landlord himself who is the nuisance!

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