San Diego Proposes Additional Tenant Protections

The draft ordinance put forward to enhance tenant protections in San Diego beyond those offered by California law is not a complete solution. Despite the emphasis placed by officials at a press conference, it will not magically eliminate homelessness overnight.

Instead, they explained that it reflects a thoughtful effort to strike a balance between the diverse housing interests in the city. However, because of this very reason, almost everyone appears dissatisfied with the concessions reached during the negotiations.

This week, organizations advocating for both landlords and tenants came forward to voice their criticisms. While some are seeking to terminate the proposal, others are pushing to broaden its scope.

Upon approval, the ordinance would enhance the transparency of the tenant removal process under specific circumstances, such as significant property renovations, by necessitating written disclosures. Landlords would be obligated to inform tenants of their entitlements and prohibited from retaliating against those who refuse a buy-out proposition.

Furthermore, it would mandate that landlords offer relocation aid to tenants who are evicted without any fault of their own. The assistance provided would amount to two months’ rent, exclusive of the security deposit, while seniors and individuals with disabilities would be eligible for three months’ aid.

In recent years, a significant amount of activism has been prompted by the practice of corporations purchasing properties and expelling tenants during extensive renovations. The acquisition of 66 apartment buildings by Blackstone in 2021 stunned housing advocates and caught elected officials by surprise. Numerous units in these buildings were deemed naturally affordable, which makes them highly susceptible to demolitions and substantial rent hikes.

Molly Kirkland, who heads the public affairs department at the Southern California Rental Housing Association and was involved in City Hall negotiations concerning the ordinance, conveyed her organization’s gratitude for the measure’s alignment with AB 1482. This 2019 state law limited rent hikes and incorporated safeguards for tenants.

Nonetheless, the ordinance’s coverage is limited, as it excludes specific categories of renters. Affordable housing, vacation rentals, hotels, residential care facilities, granny flats, and properties where the landlord resides permanently are not subject to its protections. Additionally, it features an exception for certificates of occupancy issued in the last 15 years.

Tenant organizations regard this as a lost chance, considering the increasing diversity of San Diego’s housing inventory, and assert that the exemptions included would generate considerable loopholes.