March Meeting Minutes

Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council Membership Meeting

March 4, 2019

 

Agenda:

March 4, 2019

  • 7PM: Welcome and Beat 7 Updates
  • 7:15PM Rent Control: Nicolas Traylor, Executive Director, Richmond Rent Program
  • 7:45PM Introductions
  • 7:55PM Public Comment and Community Announcements (and reminder there is no April meeting, May agenda is:
    • May 6, 2019 – Putting in and caring in your water-conserving, habitat-supporting landscape: Jim Hanson, Landscape Architect; Meet and Greet with Richmond City Councilmember: Johnson III)

 

Executive Committee Members Present:

Vice-President: Jim Hanson

Secretary: Nina Smith

 

Presenters:

  • Richmond Police Officer R. Lal, 510-806-5967
  • Nicolas Traylor, Executive Director, Rent Program, City of Richmond, 510-620-6564, Nicolas_traylor@ci.richmond.ca.us

 

Officer Lal:

He’s been with the Richmond Police one and a half years, just started with Beat 7 this past January. He presented the crime stats up to February for whole Beat 7: petty Thefts at Target; 35 stolen vehicles, mostly 23rd, MacDonald and San Pablo Ave., 9 recovered; 15 auto burglaries, mostly in Planet Fitness parking lot; 6 home burglaries, 31st and Nevin, 28th and Roosevelt, 28th and Bissell; commercial burglaries, on McBryde, at Chevron; a few robberies; prostitution on 23rd and 24th Street; shooting at Hilltop mall; drugs around the Civic Center. Beat 7 now has two officers permanently assigned. The City is putting in more lights on 24th Street. Officer Lal recommends keeping our back doors secure and the lights on. He recommends having a fake alarm sign if you don’t have an actual alarm system and a sign saying beware of dogs.

 

Nicolas Traylor, Richmond Rent Program

City of Richmond Rent Program, 440 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 200, Richmond CA 94804

510-234-RENT(7368) rent@ci.richmond.ca.us.

 

He is the executive director of the Richmond Rent Program, a new Richmond agency established in January 2017 pursuant to the rent control and just cause eviction protections ordinance passed in the 2016 election.

Purpose of rent ordinance: to provide housing stability for tenants similar to that of a homeowner with a fixed rate mortgage; to provide healthy and safe housing (mechanisms to adjust rents up or down based on habitability, whether fair return, etc.).

 

 

The Rent Control Ordinance sets a maximum allowable rent, rent ceiling, sets up a rent adjustment petition process through which the landlord can ask for an adjustment of the rent and is entitled to a hearing in front of a hearing examiner which can be appealed to the full Rent Board;

Requires just cause for eviction even for multi-unit dwellings constructed after 1995 which are otherwise exempt from rent control. A landlord must have one of the enumerated just causes to evict a tenant.

The Richmond Rent Program also administers the Richmond Relocation Ordinance, an ordinance passed about a year ago by the City Council, providing relocation assistance to tenants where an owner wants to move in and/or repair – temporary or permanent relocation amounts provided;

 

Which types of properties are covered or partially covered:

Fully covered rental unit: any multi-unit property built before 2/1/95 (effective date of State Costa-Hawkins Rental Act law), 8,000 such units in Richmond;

Partially covered units, 11,000: only just cause eviction rules apply but not rent control provisions; includes subsidized units, single family homes or condos or new construction units (post 2/1/95) with permits;

Fully exempt units, ie., no rent control or just cause protections: tenant and landlord share a kitchen or bath; secondary unit constructed on property with permits; senior housing fully exempt. Hard to calculate the number but probably about 1,000.

 

State Law: Costa-Hawkins Rental Act: Vacancy decontrol. This state law ended full rent control in California. Before this law many cities had full rent control with only adjustments based on cost of living increases but after its passage rent and charges for services can be reset to market rate when a unit becomes vacant. Any service provided is part of the maximum rent allowed.

 

Richmond’s Rent Control Ordinance:

Maximum allowable rent:

  • can be decreased downwards or upwards;
  • take the base rent plus annual general adjustments plus individual rent adjustment up or down approved through landlord petition process.

 

Just Cause for Eviction Provisions: vast majority of units covered

8 allowed reasons to evict tenant:

  • failure to pay rent;
  • breach of lease;
  • nuisance;
  • failure to give lawful access as required under state law civil code section 1954;
  • need to temporarily vacate in order to undertake substantial repairs (relocation payment required from landlord pursuant to the relocation ordinance);
  • owner move-in or family members (must live there at least 3 years and when vacate must offer to evicted tenant at the amount they were paying plus adjustments);
  • withdrawal from rental market (reflects state law: Ellis Act, which allows the landlord to go out of business – landlord must withdraw all rental units – give at least 120 days’ notice; if tenant is disabled or over 62 1 year’s notice; permanent relocation payments required; evicted tenant has the first right of refusal for up to 10 years; if you rent it out within 5 years cannot set the rent at the new market rate; if you rent it out within 2 years it’s subject to penalties;
  • temporary tenancy (only applies to single family homes and condos up to 12 months, e.g. rent out house temporarily while travelling but provisions have to be spelled out in lease, no relocation payment required).

 

Relocation Ordinance: RMC 11.102: landlords must pay

$190 per day for temporary relocation

$3,600 – $17,500 for permanent location

 

Additional Requirements for Property Landlords:

  • have to enroll the rental unit and pay registration fees;
  • have to register tenancies with terms of lease if fully rent-controlled unit;
  • all landlords (except fully exempt) must file copy of notice of termination within 2 days;
  • rent-controlled units, landlords must file a copy of any rent increase notice within 10 days;
  • landlords must pay residential rental housing fee and provide tenants with a copy of the rent program brochure at the onset of the tenancy and with each notice of a rent increase.

 

First year flat fee for all units; last fiscal year the fee was $207 for fully rent controlled units; $100 for new construction and partially controlled; owners who rent to subsidized tenants pay $50. There will probably be only 2 tiers starting next fiscal year.

 

Richmond Rent Program, a new department for the City:

11 full time staff;

provide comprehensive counseling on the ordinances and applicable state law;

provide formal and informal mediation services;

refer to community legal service providers for low income tenants;

targeted outreach to tenants and landlords whenever the termination of a tenancy is noticed;

hosts monthly workshops;

collects fees to fund the program: fully funded by landlords at this time. Most jurisdictions provide pass through of the fee to the tenants, but this Board decided not to do so in beginning although that may change in future.

 

Mr. Traylor started in July 2017, about 7 months after the program started. At that time the City Manager’s office was administrating the program. They were waiting to appoint the Board which then hired an executive director. They built the program from the bottom up.

Housing counselors (Rent Program Services Analysts): over a thousand counseling sessions per month, performing mediations, advising tenants and landlords.

Had to borrow $1.1 million from City but it has now been paid back. Goal is to get 80-90% revenue collection which will keep them in the black and not owing the City any money. They have an agreement with the City to temporarily borrow money if needed.

Rental Housing database: there was no database and they had to build it from scratch.

 

Questions and Answers:

$ 2.8 million = total budget

goal is to pay for the program fully but not make profit;

 

Great demand for rental units.

 

Annual Rental Housing Program fee billed to landlords in the fall. This program doesn’t receive the business license fee – that’s a separate fund that has nothing to do with their program. Rental inspection fee goes to Planning Department. Landlords pay a fire inspection fee as well.

What fees apply to fully exempt units? Not completely sure. Can contact him for the answers.

 

For fully exempt units just California law applies, as if the unit were not in Richmond.

 

Rent Program is part of City but also separate in that the City doesn’t adopt the Rent Board budget, doesn’t hire the executive director. The Mayor and Council appoint the rent board. Staff are city employees in terms of employment but separate in the sense that the rent board hires the director. The Board has its own legal representation. Administrative costs are approximately 50% of total budget.

19,000 units in the City.

Landlords are allowed to include fees in the calculation of their expenses in a fair return petition.

 

Other cities with rent control: SF, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Mountain View, San Leandro (weak), Hayward (weak). Richmond is the first city in Contra Costa County with rent control.

 

AGA = 100% of the local consumer price index.

 

County is going to be taking over the subsidized Section 8 program. The Richmond Housing Authority is being abolished.

 

Other programs also affecting rents include affordable housing projects which utilize low income tax credit units and offer below market rent. A state agency administers these and they are partially covered by the rent control ordinance.

 

Sale of property is not one of the just causes for eviction. A landlord can sell the property with the tenant in there, can buy them out, or the new owner can do a move in eviction or withdraw from the rental market but the prohibition on renting it out would apply to the new buyer who would also be required to pay relocation costs. Relocation costs depends on size of unit.

 

New housing development with affordable units – brand new complex exempt under Costa-Hawkins so only just cause provisions apply. If affordable the rent is regulated by a state agency, not the Richmond rent program.

 

Staff: all full time positions, including the attorneys, over $ million per year. City manager and finance director are concerned with long-term costs projections for the program, especially costs such as pensions. He wants to create efficiencies where possible to hopefully be able to cut back staff.  Financial consultant built into their budget to help them with long-term projections.

 

Nicolas Traylor worked in rent control field for 15 years. Most European countries have some kind of rent control.

 

If landlord doesn’t pay relocation costs the tenant can file a petition with the rent program or sue in the courts.

 

NEXT NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL: MAY 6

 

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.