The City of Alhambra Passes Tenant Protection Ordinances

According to officials, the city council of Alhambra has given its approval to two “Tenant Protection Ordinances.” These ordinances were passed during the council’s meeting on May 22. They entail a temporary moratorium, which prevents landlords from evicting tenants under specific conditions in order to carry out remodeling activities. Following input from property owners and tenants in Alhambra, the votes to approve these ordinances were unanimous, with a 5-0 majority.

In response to the potential mass eviction threat of a building near Almansor Park on East Mission Road, several organizations including the Alhambra Tenants Union, the San Gabriel Valley Tenants Alliance, and the Healing and Justice Center have initiated a campaign to raise awareness about a perceived “reno-viction loophole” in California state law AB1482.

AB 1482, also known as the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, was implemented to place a cap on rent increases at 5% plus inflation or 10%, whichever is lower. This legislation prohibits evictions without “just cause,” but it does include exceptions such as eviction for substantial remodeling purposes.

The incident prompted a mobilization of individuals to participate in the Alhambra City Council’s meeting on May 8. During the meeting, long-term renters in Alhambra shared their experiences of landlords threatening eviction through the use of a “substantial remodel clause.” Renters also expressed concerns about potential rent increases, attributing them to the expiration of the Los Angeles County COVID-19 eviction moratorium.

In reaction to these issues, the recently enacted ordinances, set to expire on December 31, have been put in place. These ordinances restrict landlords from evicting tenants for remodeling purposes under specific circumstances.

According to city officials, the temporary moratorium implemented in Alhambra provides the City Council with an opportunity to explore further measures to enhance renter protections. Community organizers have engaged with the council, presenting policy suggestions aimed at preventing unethical evictions. These suggestions are intended to curb unfair practices and safeguard the rights of renters in the community.

The proposed policy suggestions encompass a variety of measures to address the issue. These suggestions include implementing advanced notices whereby city preapproval of intended remodels would be required before tenants are notified of eviction. Additionally, substantial relocation fees would be determined based on the current housing market conditions. Rent stabilization measures would be introduced to prevent excessive rent increases, while the establishment of a fee-generating rental registry would help track and regulate rental properties. Anti-harassment protections would be implemented to safeguard tenants from abusive practices. Furthermore, the concept of First Right of Return would be introduced, ensuring that tenants have the opportunity to return to their previous rental units without the requirement to re-apply for tenancy, while adhering to rent increase limits set by the Tenant Protection Act.

Who does the moratorium apply to?

The temporary moratorium in place specifically addresses evictions related to substantial remodeling, unless the remodeling work is essential for ensuring compliance with relevant codes and laws that impact the health and safety of the building’s tenants. Similarly, if there are outstanding notices of code violations that affect the health and safety of the tenants, the moratorium would be applicable.

However, it’s important to note that the moratorium does not extend to residential properties or tenants that are exempt from the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482). This exemption includes the following cases:

  • Buildings that are less than 15 years old are currently exempt from the provisions of AB 1482. However, this exemption operates on a rolling basis, meaning that as buildings age and surpass the 15-year threshold, they become subject to the coverage of AB 1482. For example, if a building was constructed in 2009, tenants would come under AB 1482 coverage in 2023.
  • Renters residing in a single-family home, not owned by a corporation, are not covered under AB 1482, unless their landlord has provided explicit notice that the home is exempt.
  • In the case of a duplex where the landlord occupies one of the units, tenants residing in the other units are not covered by AB 1482.