In San Jose’s superheated housing market, where landlords are trading rent-controlled units for market-rate housing at a rapid pace, one city council member wants landlords to pay to move displaced tenants, reports The Mercury News.
Council Member Chappie Jones last week proposed a policy that would require landlords to refund tenants’ security deposits and pay relocation benefits to low- and very-low-income households. Payments would be equal to three months of market-rate rent. Some residents, including those who have disabilities, or who are elderly or live with more than one dependent child, would receive an extra $3,000 in moving expenses. Landlords would be required to pay when applying to remove four or more rent-controlled units from the market.
Jones’ plan also asks landlords to hire a relocation specialist to help residents find new places to live, provide a 30-day notice when applying to demolish or remodel buildings, and a 120-day notice before tenants need to move. His proposal comes as The Reserve Apartments, a development in his district, are about to be torn down and replaced with new apartments with higher rent, putting 200 residents at risk of displacement.
With demolition of The Reserve slated for mid-2017, the plan wouldn’t come soon enough to help those residents. It will be considered at a council meeting on April 19, when the council will also consider changes to the city’s rent control policy. The law currently applies to just one-third of the city’s apartments, capping annual rent increases at 8 percent. The city’s housing department has recommended tying increase to inflation, which would significantly decrease rent hikes. Jones has proposed lowering it to 5 percent, hoping to find a balance between renters and landlords. The council will also consider a system that allows landlords to “bank” rent increases in years they don’t use them, allowing for higher rent increases later down the line.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.