In cities across the country, tenants are demanding robust regulations to keep rents affordable and stop unjust evictions.
"Araceli Barrera is a housekeeper at a hotel in Denver. Last year, the apartment where she lives with her husband and two children was overrun with an insect infestation. She says she had to trash most of her belongings and move out. When her landlord took her to housing court to force her to fulfill the final months of her lease agreement, she turned to a local renters coalition called Colorado Homes for All. The group provided her with a pro bono lawyer who helped defend her in the case.
The experience politicized her. Now Barrera is helping Homes for All push a bill in the state legislature that would allow Colorado tenants to withhold rent from their landlords if their housing is in disrepair.
'I lost everything, my belongings, my home, and the life of my family was uprooted,' she says in Spanish. 'That makes me want to fight harder. I want to go to the capitol and tell my story and be heard.'"
Click here to read more of Jimmy Tobias's article.
Kathleen Ronayne, AP Photo
LA Times: "Glendale Landlords May Soon Have to Limit Annual Rent Increases to 7% or Pay Tenant Relocation Fees"
"Glendale officials signaled Tuesday evening they would support a proposed ordinance requiring landlords to offer tenants a one-year lease and pay relocation fees if their rent is raised more than 7% annually and the tenant opts to leave."
Click here to read more of Lila Seidman's article.
Raul Roa, LA Times staff photographer
In California’s fight over Proposition 10, it’s Wall Street versus the working class.
"Every month, tenants in more than 14,000 California rental properties fork over huge portions of their paychecks to Blackstone, a Wall Street asset-management company that’s notoriously reluctant to perform maintenance duties. This year, Blackstone has been throwing millions of dollars of that money into the fight against Proposition 10, a ballot measure that would pave the way for rent control across the state.
Or to put it another way: a massive corporation is using working people as ATMs, and then leveraging the money it extracts from them to purchase political influence, thus protecting its ability to continue wringing renters dry — all while rents skyrocket, the eviction and homelessness crises worsen, and the average working-class Californian’s standard of living plummets."
Click here to read more of Meagan Day's article.
y311ow // flickr
Earlier this year, three California Assemblymembers — Richard Bloom, David Chiu & Rob Bonta — took Sacramento by surprise, introducing AB 1506 to repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Recent grassroots organizing by tenant groups laid the groundwork for this important legislation. Since 2015, numerous cities have been organizing for rent control, and in that time tenants in Richmond, San Jose, Union City, and Mountain View have already won new protections. There is a tenant movement gaining strength, and we have our eye on rolling back state restrictions that stand in the way of strong local rent control.Read more
Companies like Airbnb are exacerbating California’s affordable housing crisis, but lawmakers in Sacramento want to give the company a free ride.
A new study from the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy suggests that in the metro Los Angeles area alone, more than 7,000 units have been removed from the rental market to be used as short term rentals for tourists and business travelers. The result? Fewer people have permanent housing and rents are rising even more.
Airbnb and similar web companies are fueling the explosion in short term rentals. The site encourages property owners to connect with customers that want to rent lodging for less than 30 days instead of long term renters.
In many California cities, there are laws against converting scarce housing resources to tourist use. Using political influence, Airbnb has engaged in a systematic campaign to dismantle those laws and avoid paying any taxes to offset their impact. Now, they are taking their lobbying efforts to the state level, and a new bill has been proposed that would make Airbnb rentals exempt from local taxes.
It’s bad enough cities are losing valuable rental housing stock. The least AirBnB and other short term rental corporations can do is pay their fair share.Read more
Landlords Secretly Fund Anti-Rent Control Candidates to Stop the Inevitable Rise of Rent Control in New Cities
With rising demands for rent control, landlords have taken to hidden campaign funding to promote anti-rent control candidates.
Despite gobs of money and faux experts trying to convince the public that rent control is a “failed policy,” the public continues to support rent control by a large margin. Tenants know that rent control preserves affordability, especially in expensive markets.
Landlords know that the only way to prevent Bay Area cities that are struggling with huge rent increases from adopting rent control is by secretly funding anti-rent control candidates. If they do it publicly, their efforts will backfire, as voters receiving a mailer explicitly from a landlord group would vote for the rent control candidate. So they fund other shell groups that then back anti-rent control candidates. Welcome to the world of unlimited Independent Expenditures (IE).
Here's what happened in November in the Mountainview, CA, a city of 60% renters:
According to disclosures filed with the state last week, the California Apartment Association — which represents landlords and is involved in local politics — funneled $90,000 through the "Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition," a mysterious political action committee (PAC) that sent out an unusual number of mailers in support of three candidates opposed to rent control during the election: Pat Showalter, Ken Rosenberg and Ellen Kamei. (Landlords Hid Big Election Spending, Mountain View Voice, Feb 6, 2015)
Usually, Big Real Estate gets away with this stuff without any scrutiny. Kudos to Daniel DeBolt of the Mountain View Voice for uncovering the shadowy campaign money in the recent election. His article is a must read for anyone concerned with tenant rights.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office is estimating that tax revenue is several billion dollars higher than anticipated, leaving Governor Brown with absolutely no excuse for failing the restore funding to California's renters' rebate program. This critical lifeline provides an annual payment of up to $347.50 for low-income, senior and disabled Californians.
Citing budget deficits during the recession, then-Gov. Schwarzenegger eliminated all funding for the program. To date, Gov. Brown has not restored the funds. Eliminating these cuts was unfair to begin with, but continuing to do so in light of the budget surplus is totally indefensible. Please sign our petition today demanding that these funds be restored.