City Considers Action to Protect Tenants

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

The South Pasadena City Council recently opened a public hearing discussion of a possible urgency ordinance that would establish additional protections for tenants.
The conversation on Nov. 18 was prompted by the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (Assembly Bill 1482), which states that “property owners can issue no-fault termination of tenancies for select reasons including intent to demolish or substantially remodel the residential real property.”

Due to officials’ concern that the legislation had created an unintended loophole enabling the eviction of tenants, a 45-day moratorium on evictions for substantial remodels was established on Nov. 4 by the City Council.
Further study of the issue was required, and city staff members presented their findings on Nov. 18 after receiving public comment and working with the nonprofit Housing Rights Center to host a workshop on current tenant laws.
In AB 1482, a substantial remodel is defined as a “replacement or substantial modification of any structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical system that requires a permit from a government agency, or the abatement of hazardous materials … that cannot be reasonably accomplished in a safe manner with the tenant in place … and requires the tenant to vacate the residential real property for at least 30 days.”
Cosmetic improvements like painting, decorating or minor repairs do not qualify as a substantial remodel.
The staff is considering the possibility of additional options for relocation assistance for those displaced by a substantial remodel. Under AB 1482, assistance is one month’s rent.
If a level of substantial remodel is required, the property owner can request entry into the unit or units so that a contractor can take measurements and photos to prepare the documents required for a permit.
“There are a lot of older apartments in our town and a lot of them need work, some of them need to be brought up to code,” Councilman Richard Schneider said during the meeting.
“In fact, we know of a couple of situations in the past couple of years where people were living in substandard housing and a new owner came and said, ‘We’re going to bring these buildings up to code and we’re going to increase your rent by $600 a month,’ and that’s a real situation.”
Schneider also expressed interest in considering an occupancy inspection program to make sure that buildings are up to code on an annual basis.
The council voted 5-0 to continue the public hearing until Dec. 16 to allow for further stakeholder outreach. The motion was made by Councilman Michael Cacciotti and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Diana Mahmud.
The council next meets on Wednesday, Dec. 2.