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City Council Unanimously Approves Rent Review Committee Changes

Last night, Alameda City Council approved changes to the municipal code that expand protections for tenants through the rent review process administered by the city.

City Council unanimously approved the changes, dismissing concerns from a local landlord, and an attorney for the California Apartment Association, that a new “freeze out” provision, which would prevent landlords who don’t show for a Rent Review Advisory Committee hearing from issuing another rent increase notice for 12 months, would violate California law.

Now that council has approved the changes, it remains to be seen if landlords will follow through on hints that they will challenge the freeze-out provision through the courts.

The changes also provide that any rent increase, no matter how small, is sufficient cause for the Rent Review Advisory Committee to hear a request for mediation from a tenant.

City officials said that the freeze-out provision was necessary to force landlords to participate in Committee-led mediation over rent increases; mediation resolutions are not legally binding, and landlords don’t always show up for the hearings.

City Council has been under increasing pressure from tenants as market rents have increased sharply in a rebounding real estate market.

Much of that pressure has been channeled through the Alameda Renters Coalition, of which about 16 members met at a potluck picnic on Saturday to strategize in advance of last nights meeting.

Members turned out at the council meeting last night to plead their cause, displaying, “I rent, I vote” signs.

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