Forget Winter – We are in Tarp Season!

Record precipitation hit our region as an ‘atmospheric river’ of water vapor stalled over California. The storm was preceded by a series of advisories from the National Weather Service warning of heavy rain, strong winds, thunderstorms and floods. Some areas saw more than one inch of rain per hour! Indeed the weather folks called last week’s storm the most impressive since 2005. That can present quite a challenge to an old roof!

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Habitability: A Few Key Concepts

Tenants living in rent-stabilized apartments time-and-again have informed city officials that conditions in rental housing need improvement. Sometimes the housing is substandard because it doesn’t meet the state’s ‘tenantable’ requirement which is merely fit for human habitation. More often conditions deteriorated because the landlord failed to maintain the property. Habitability touches on a number of concepts that didn’t get an airing in the Rent Stabilization Commission discussions. Let’s explain!

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RSO Commission OKs Fees, Whiffs on Habitability

The Rent Stabilization Commission has agreed to recommend to City Council that relocation fees should be calculated differently. Most households would receive a substantially reduced fee according to our analysis. Households that rent from a ‘mom-and-pop’ landlord owning four or fewer units could see their fee further reduced. The good news is that the commission came to loggerheads on habitability so no action was taken that would tank a better standard for conditions in Beverly Hills rental housing.

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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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Habitability Comes to the Rent Stabilization Commission

The Beverly Hills Rent Stabilization Commission on November 3rd will discuss a rent stabilization ordinance amendment concerning a new habitability standard for rent-stabilized housing, housing inspections and other policies related to maintenance of the rental housing stock. This is not the first city policy discussion about it. Fifteen years ago City Council considered and rejected a rental housing inspection program that might have made all the difference to tenants today. Will this time be any different?

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TCM Fest O’Pests Reminds Us: Close Those Gaps!

Turner Classic Movies today screened a few entomological-themed films that are guaranteed to make the insect-phobic squirm. Them (1954) and Genocide (1968) play on our fears that when insects organize against us we don’t stand a chance. We can’t beat ‘em! Yet we can’t join them. ‘The Fly’ (1958) and ‘Wasp Woman’ show the horrors of human-to-insect transmutation. The TCM Fest O’Pests is a reminder to all of us to take a look around our apartment and ask, is it as pest-proof as it could be?

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Interior Habitability: Weak Standard, Few Violations

Is your landlord not keeping up with interior interior maintenance? You are not alone: many longtime tenants in our older buildings can’t get attention from the landlord even as vacant units get the gloss. For good reason: the landlord is not obligated to do much to keep the apartment in the condition it was rented. That’s why Beverly Hills needs a habitability standard!

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Tip: Avoid the Carpet Cleaning Bait-and-Switch

Longtime tenants know this story: worn carpets long past their prime get to looking downright threadbare. As pleas for renewal find no sympathy from the landlord, the tenant’s fingers do the walkin’ looking for a cheap carpet cleaner. There are none! There are only cheap quoted prices. Once the job is underway the price changes. Here’s what to expect!

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When Landlords Put Profit Before Maintenance

Beverly Hills residents take well-kept properties for granted. High-and-rising values generate resources for maintenance and, in turn, maintenance keeps property values up. But maintenance is not part of the business model for some owners of residential rental property. Instead their priority is cash flow. But scrimping on maintenance not only affects tenants; it also augurs an overall decline in the city’s rental housing stock. Let’s take an example!

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2017 Dialogue #5: Registry, Habitability and More

City of Beverly Hills in the spring tossed further consideration of the rent stabilization policy to the community to hug-it-out over the key policy details. The four facilitated dialogues that followed identified key issues. This dialog #5 drilled down to tenant-landlord communication; a new habitability standard for individual units; and the maximum allowed annual rent increase. This is our recap.

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