San Jose Considers Bolstering Renter Protections, Which Will Sunset Dec. 31 without New Vote

UPDATE, Oct. 24: The council voted to extend the interim rent control ordinance until a permanent policy is put in place.

After temporarily capping rent hikes to 5 percent a year, San Jose may lower it further by tying increases to the rate of inflation. But first, the City Council on Tuesday will vote on whether to extend the interim rent cap, which sunsets Dec. 31.

The short-term ordinance—adopted last year—knocked down allowable annual rent increases from 8 percent to 5 percent for buildings constructed before 1979. It also eliminated pass-through provisions, which allowed landlords to get around the rent ceiling by passing on certain costs to tenants.

City staff expected to have a proposal for a permanent rent ordinance drafted earlier this year, but the Coyote Creek flood set things back by several months. The February flood redirected staffing, resources and services in the city’s housing division, resulting in delayed outreach about the apartment rent policy.

The city’s Housing and Community Development Commission held a meeting earlier this month to discuss revisions to both rent control and a tenant protection ordinance, which prevents landlords from evicting people without cause.

Proposed amendments to the city’s rent rules are set to come up for consideration at the Nov. 14 council meeting. In addition to potentially tying rent control to the Consumer Price Index, the proposals include an amendment to the tenant protection ordinance to add crime as a cause for eviction, as well as an anti-retaliation measure to prevent landlords from threatening to notify authorities about a tenant’s immigration status. At the November meeting, the council will also consider a ban on income discrimination, which would prevent landlords from turning away renters that rely on public subsidies. The recommended revisions would bolster the city’s landlord-tenant mediation program.

If the council lets the temporary apartment ordinance expire at the end of December, landlords would again be allowed to raise rents up to 8 percent a year or 21 percent if there hadn’t been a price increase for four years.

Click here to read through the draft rent regulations, which have been available for public review since last month.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for October 24, 2017:

  • The city’s water bills rose by 67 percent from 2011 to last year, from nearly $3.8 million to more than $6.1 million. That’s because the San Jose Water Company, an investor-owned retailer, keeps upping the price. The private utility serves more than 800,000 customers in San Jose, where the biggest customer is the city itself. Activists who have been monitoring the company’s incessant rate hikes urged the city to take a closer look at its billing after San Jose Water admitted to overcharging customers. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is now investigating the over-billing, which may lead to millions of dollars in refunds for hundreds of thousands of customers—including City Hall. Councilman Don Rocha, who brought the issue to his colleagues’ attention over the summer, suggested using existing city resources to monitor the water company’s rate case. On a memo with Rocha and Councilman Johnny Khamis, Mayor Sam Liccardo wrote: “Given the concerns from our residents and the impact of the rate increases on the city’s budget, we should engage meaningfully in the rate-setting process, and we've shared our concerns with the CPUC in recent weeks.”

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

One Comment

  1. > we should engage meaningfully in the rate-setting process,

    > It also eliminated pass-through provisions, which allowed landlords to get around the rent ceiling by passing on certain costs to tenants.

    So, the geniuses in city government want to set the prices for rental housing and water utilities.

    If they have the power to set the price of housing, why don’t they just set it to zero? It would make LOTS of Democrat voters HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.

    AND, it would make it easier to house all the illegal immigrants and “Dreamers” that are stashed all over San Jose. Poor people wouldn’t have to cram themselves twelve to a room in some refrigerator box. They could spread out. And they could use their meager untaxed cash income to spend on the necessities of life and not have to worry about monthly rent checks to greedy landlords.

    Ditto for water. If the price of water were zero, poor people could take longer showers.

    Is the city government AGAINST poor people taking showers?

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