Alhambra, CA — On May 22, 2023, the Alhambra City Council approved “Tenant Protection Ordinances.” Both an urgency Ordinance and the first reading of a non-urgency Ordinance imposing a temporary moratorium on no fault, substantial remodel evictions for certain residential tenancies in Alhambra were approved. The Ordinances passed with a 5-0 vote to approve after robust public comment and discussion from Alhambra property owners and tenants.
The Ordinances, which expire on December 31, 2023, prevent landlords from evicting tenants for the purposes of remodeling under certain circumstances. At the May 8th meeting of the City Council, some long-time Alhambra renters reported their landlords are threatening to evict them now that the Los Angeles County eviction moratorium has expired and for the purposes of a “substantial remodel” to raise rents.
The California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) was established to cap rent increases at 5% plus inflation or 10%, whichever is lower. AB 1482 prohibits evictions without “just cause;” however, AB 1482 also contains exceptions including evicting for substantial remodeling purposes.
The temporary moratorium in Alhambra gives the City Council time to research additional considerations to strengthen renter protections.
This temporary moratorium on substantial remodel evictions does not apply to:
- Any residential property or tenants that are exempt from the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482).
- Evictions other than those due to substantial remodel, unless the work is necessary to either bring the property into compliance with applicable codes and laws affecting health and safety of tenants of the building, or under outstanding notice of code violation(s) affecting the health and safety of tenants of the building.
The Council materials and audio/video recording of the meeting can be found at www.cityofalhambra.org/AgendaCenter
AOA’s position on Alhambra’s new tenant protections ordinance
Why New Tenant Protections in Alhambra Destroys Housing
Property Rights and Investment: Restricting housing providers from evicting renters for substantial remodel infringes upon their property rights and limits their ability to make necessary improvements to their properties. The majority of buildings in L.A. County are older, so the need for renovation is even greater in those cases. The people creating these laws are not rental housing experts; they do not understand the need for substantial remodel.
Property owners have a legitimate interest in maintaining and upgrading their buildings, which can enhance their value and attract tenants who seek better living conditions. By preventing owners from making substantial remodels, it disincentivizes property investment, resulting in a decline in the quality of available housing over time.
Rent Control and Tenant Protections: Investors and developers take into account factors such as rent control and tenant protections when considering investments. The introduction of rent control in L.A. County has influenced investors to seek opportunities elsewhere. The restrictions on substantial remodel evictions further impact investor decisions, potentially limiting housing development and reducing available rental units.
Fifty years ago, the establishment of rent control in Santa Monica coincided with a booming airplane manufacturing industry and other thriving sectors, resulting in the construction of approximately 50,000 apartment units. However, in the present day, the number of units has significantly decreased to around 23,000 due to the impact of rent control. Similarly, Los Angeles, with 1,600,000 rental units in the past, now has less than 600,000 remaining.
This pattern can be observed across various communities, where the presence of oppressive rent control often pushes property owners to sell their properties to developers. Consequently, a significant number of rental units are lost in the process.
Housing Supply and Affordability: Limiting evictions for substantial remodels might discourage owners from undertaking much-needed renovations or conversions, ultimately reducing the housing supply. There are times when the substantial remodel includes creating more units on the property. This eviction moratorium prevents those units from being built. Demand is acute and supply limited, so such restrictions exacerbate housing shortages, leading to higher rental prices and reduced affordability. This can negatively impact individuals and families searching for housing options, particularly in competitive rental markets like Alhambra.
Economic Implications: The housing market plays a significant role in local economies. Allowing landlords to undertake substantial remodels and potentially increase rental rates can stimulate economic activity. Renovation projects create jobs for construction workers, contractors, and other related industries, contributing to economic growth. Restricting these activities can impede job creation and the flow of investment, potentially slowing down economic development.