Antioch approves rent stabilization with retroactive date, new tenant protections

Tenants who fear landlords may raise rents before new rent protections are in place will be able to rest easier after the City Council this week approved a repeal date and strengthened its new rules.

Although the council approved the rent stabilization rules on first reading last month, it ultimately did not pass them at a later meeting when some council members decided to include a rollback date for them to take effect. On Tuesday, in a 3-2 vote — with Mayor ProTem Mike Barbanica and Council Member Lori Ogorchok dissenting — the council approved the newly worded rules, pushing back the Aug. 23 deadline so landlords can’t raise rents in the meantime.

Although housing prices in Antioch are lower than many neighboring cities, many renters have complained of being hit with exorbitant rent increases of $500 or more a month — sometimes several times a year. Many low-income residents struggling to pay rising housing costs called on the city to provide renter protections, including Tuesday, when dozens spoke during a council session.

Regina Burney, an Antioch resident and member of the nonprofit Monument Impact, said the global pandemic has negatively affected her and other tenants.

“I’m here with my community and colleagues asking for a cap on rent increases of 60% CPI (consumer price index) and a 3% cap,” she said.

A rent stabilization advocate is pushing for the Antioch City Council to adopt a rent stabilization ordinance with a return date of Tuesday, September 27, 2022.

Tanya Dean of Antioch, who works in early childhood education, also called for support for rent stabilization, saying she is “appalled” by all the uncertainties parents and children have to face these days.

“I fear for their mental and physical well-being, parents having to work two jobs just to pay the rent or just get the bare necessities they need,” she said. “It’s unnecessary stress. And we’re putting that stress on these kids and their families, and they need to stop. It has to stop. … It’s imperative that we make sure these families are taken care of, we need to make housing affordable for all families.”

Edith Pastrano, a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), said she’s been going door-to-door with her job asking renters what they’re worried about the most, and the resounding answer is the high cost of housing.

“I can tell you that everyone is concerned that their rents are going up at a rate that their incomes can’t support,” she said. “The prices of goods and services are rising, and gasoline is at an all-time high. Families have to make tough decisions to cope. No parent should have to choose between feeding their children by filling a prescription or paying an extra $100 a month in rent just to have a roof over their head at night.

“As you vote, think of the hundreds of families whose livelihoods depend on tonight’s vote. Protect families from corporate profits that will never know when enough is enough,” she added.

The newly revised rules also add a definition of “residential services” so that if the lease includes basic amenities such as laundry, hot and cold water, garbage disposal, concierge services, parking and the like, landlords must provide what they say they will. that will.

In addition to large rent increases, tenants complained about landlords failing to address cockroach infestations, broken appliances, leaking plumbing and unmaintained common areas, and unusable amenities like pools that never open.

Under state law, cities can no longer adopt rent controls that would regulate rents initially charged, but they can adopt rent stabilization rules that regulate how much rents can be raised during the year.

Juan Gonzalez of Antioch said his landlord raised his rent by $400, an amount he found difficult to pay.

“I can’t afford it when they raise my rent by $400, and believe me, to a lot of people that’s not a lot of money, but to me it is — that’s $4,800 a year,” he said. “You have to understand after a pandemic and all the struggles I went through…”

Under Antioch’s new rent stabilization rules, only one rent increase will be allowed each year. But to comply with state laws, not all rental units would be subject to the proposed rent stabilization provisions. That’s because the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prohibits local restrictions on units built after February 1, 1995, and on single-family homes without accessory units, as well as condominiums and cooperatives.

The local measure would cover owner-occupied duplexes and affordable housing complexes financed by the low-income tax credit program, including many of the city’s larger complexes such as Casa Blanca, Delta View and Delta Pines.

Under the new rules, rent is capped at 3%, or 60% of the consumer price index, with only one rent increase per year allowed. It’s the same hat Oakland uses.

A tenant can also petition for a rent reduction if they believe the landlord has asked for or accepted more rent than is allowed under the new rules. A landlord who believes the limit on rent increases will prevent him from getting a “fair and reasonable return” on the property can also ask the city for an increase higher than allowed.

As part of implementing the program, the city will be required to hire a deputy city attorney — at a cost of $294,714 with benefits — to assist with legal matters related to rent stabilization, conducting hearings and making decisions, according to the report.

Council Member Monica Wilson made a motion to approve, which Council Member Tamisha Torres-Walker seconded and the measure passed without discussion.

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