Rent Control and “Just Cause” evictions–Points to Consider–this Sunday’s Topic

For or Against Rent Control? Here are some points to consider and express to the City of Santa Rosa Council meeting May 3rd—Public Meeting at City Hall.
We are please to have Daniel Sanchez, Government Affairs Director, of the NorthBay Association of Realtors to talk about these timely issues before the City of Santa Rosa takes action on May 3rd at the Council Meeting. 
Just Cause:—What is it?  Under just cause eviction, a tenant can only be evicted if the landlord can prove that the tenant is violating the lease, breaking the law or if the landlord must move themselves or a family member into the unit.
  • Any type of rental can be eligible for just cause, including single family homes.
  • Just cause eviction ordinances would require rental owners to prove “cause” in court, or in some cases before a political body, every time they need to remove a problem resident, such as a drug dealer, or violent criminal.
  • Proving cause in court or by going before a board or commission is hard to do and unfair. The legal process is costly and time consuming. Rental property owners would have to depose and subpoena other residents to testify.
  • Because removing a problem tenant requires going to court, these ordinances tend to clog the court system.
  • Santa Rosa should focus on educating renters on their protections under state law, instructing owners on their obligations, and enforcing the laws we have.
  • Santa Rosa should provide a forum for owners and residents to resolve disputes in a neutral setting — not in a court, not in the political setting of an eviction board, and certainly not with a host of new laws and regulations.

Rent Control:
What is it? Rent Control in California is regulated by state law, Costa-Hawkins.  Under this law local jurisdictions can regulate the annual rent increases of multifamily units with a certificate of occupancy before 1995.  Typically, rent increases are limited to Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • The City Council’s idea of “limited” rent control is naïve and unworkable. “Limited” rent control assumes that the city will save millions of dollars simply because there will be no database or new staff hired.  It is naïve to believe “limited” rent control will require no new city staff.
  • A “limited” complaint-based form of rent control will leave the city with thousands of open cases; currently code enforcement has over 1,600 open cases.
  • The City Council should be honest that a rent control program will cost millions.
  • Rent control creates an incentive to remove housing units from the rental stock and for negative investment in the housing sector.
  • Rent control is not a targeted anti-poverty program; many people who do not need a subsidy will receive rent control and many who do need a subsidy will remain without any help.

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