Causa Justa is currently running a Tenant Justice Campaign.
Background and why it matters
According to the SF Chronicle, "Oakland, unlike most other Bay Area cities, allows landlords to pass 100 percent of capital improvements (note: "capital improvements" are improvements made to the building) to tenants over a five-year period. In some cases, that has allowed landlords to raise rents by as much as 112 percent..." Capital improvements then become another way that landlords can speed up the process of removing current residents in favor of getting higher-paying residents and contributing to gentrification.
Causa Justa's recommendation (more details below) is that "the costs of capital improvements to an apartment must be spread out for enough years that the unit's rent does not increase by more then 10 percent in a given year. No combination of improvements can raise rents by more than 30 percent over five years." (from the same article).
But!: "city leaders still have to decide what percentage of the capital improvement costs a tenant must pay." (same source) This is the main issue that was before council on March 18th and will return to council on April 22nd (see below for more details).
Details of the recommendation
Here are the details of what they're proposing (from here):
Tenant Justice Campaign's proposals to modify the Rent Program's pass-throughs of debt service and capital improvements
- Eliminate the owner's Debt Service as a basis for rent increase
- Share the costs of Capital Improvements between tenants and owner
- Require owners to file petitions before passing-through Capital Improvement costs to tenants, and require notification to affected tenants of regulations governing Capital Improvements
- Establish a maximum cap of 10% on annual rent increases for ALL allowable increase justifications, including Capital Improvements.
- Expand the present 5-year amortization period for capital improvements pass-throughs to 5, 10, 20 years to more accurately reflect the useful life of the improvements,
- Ensure that Capital Improvements increases are removed from tenant's rent on the payoff expiration date.
The issue was on City Council's agenda on March 18th, 2014.
There were over 80 speakers on the list for this item. Many of the speakers were in support of Causa Justa's proposal. Here are some examples of what speakers had to say (many stories of abusive practices from landlords): one, two, three (in Chinatown), four (from a church), five (from Youth UpRising), six (from landlords), seven (from PolicyLink), eight.
City Council didn't come to an agreement on this issue on March 18th.
The issue will return to City Council on April 22nd when council will vote on whether the pass-through percentage on capital improvements will be 50/50 or 75%.
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News & External Links
- 2014-03-18: "Oakland landlords, tenant groups reach deal on rental upgrades" SFGate