By Haley Sawyer
The South Pasadena City Council recently took another step to provide strong tenant protections by enacting measures to both extend a moratorium on evictions due to substantial remodels of rental units and allow for further study on appropriate relocation benefits.
The council plans to discuss both issues further at its first meeting of January. It hopes to solidify the moratorium in January and decide the most appropriate relocation assistance by April.
“I anticipate planning will need more time for the tenant relocation,” Mayor Diana Mahmud added. “It’s a very complex issue and there are a variety of approaches that have been taken by our neighboring cities, including many of our neighboring cities that have adopted no enhanced relocation expenses.”
The motion at last week’s meeting was made by Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti and was seconded by Mahmud. It passed unanimously.
Council members were concerned that Assembly Bill 1482 — the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 — had created an unintended loophole enabling eviction of tenants. The loophole seemingly could provide a workaround to the general bans on evicting tenants for nonpayment when those tenants can prove that the pandemic contributed to their nonpayment.
The bill 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.”
AB 1482 defines a substantial remodel 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.”
Painting, decorating, minor repairs or other cosmetic improvements do not qualify as a substantial remodel.
The council initially established a 45-day moratorium on evictions for substantial remodels on Nov. 4. The moratorium was set to expire on Dec. 19 and was renewed, in part, to continue public hearing and allow for further stakeholder outreach.
The Planning Commission previously hosted virtual meetings for landlords and tenants and plans to schedule a public meeting on the topic of tenant protections and inclusionary housing for January.
Tenants were found to be concerned about the possibility of being evicted without proof or explanation of substantial remodel or why they would have to leave for the remodel. Landlords’ concerns were about being overburdened with the process of obtaining permits prior to having access to a vacated unit.
Extending the moratorium involved much discussion, but it was deciding the most appropriate relocation benefits that drew the most conversation last week.
For no-fault evictions resulting from a substantial remodel, state law calls for relocation costs of one month’s rent in either the form of payment or forgiveness of the last month’s rent.
The council is scheduled to next meet at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20.