On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council approved a Rent Stabilization Ordinance which will limit the rental rate increases within the City.
The ordinance which caps rent at 60% of CPI or 3% (whichever is less) was approved in a 3-2 split vote with Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and councilmember Lori Ogorchock dissenting.
Prior to the vote, Barbanica argued for an alternative plan that he thought would be a compromise by closing the loophole and was consistent with AB 1482 in an effort not to hurt mom and pop landlords—his motion failed to get a second.
Per AB 1482: This bill would, until January 1, 2030, prohibit an owner of residential real property from, over the course of any 12-month period, increasing the gross rental rate for a dwelling or unit more than 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living, as defined, or 10%, whichever is lower.
Ogorchock offered a small percentage of a rent increase as a starting point—also didn’t get traction.
The vote came after more than two hours of public comments urging support for the ordinance while residents spoke about rent increases, bad landlords and personal stories. Last week, the groups said they will urge the council to approve the following:
- cap rent increases at 60% of CPI or 3%, whichever is less
- ensure affordable housing and specifically LIHTC buildings are covered
- implement the measure retroactively to January 2022
- include a rent board and tenant appeal process, and to
- immediately freeze rent to avoid retaliation by landlords
During council discussion, Tamisha Torres-Walker thanked everyone for their participation and showed up.
“I noticed all the opposition was online today,” stated Walker. “They couldn’t be inconvenienced to show up here tonight. Like the community did to make their case. This is not an isolated incident, it’s a systematic issue… we do need more affordable housing with tenant protections of course.”
She advocated for immediate action tonight and support all demands of the residents to keep families in their home and off the streets.
Councilmember Monica Wilson thanked the residents for their persistence over the past 15-months. She stated she wanted everything included from the 60% of CPI to retroactive to January.
Barbanica said raising someone’s rent 30-40-50% is ridiculous and admitted at one point he didn’t believe it and asked for proof—which was provided.
“The majority of what we are talking about is corporate landlords, its not your mom-and-pop landlord. It’s the corporate landlords,” said Barbanica who noted the staff report provided 9 cities which 7 of 9 have higher rents than Antioch—one with 65% more. “I don’t want to minimize what you guys are going through, I saw the letter myself that said a 60% increase. It was crazy. I personally reached out to that management and they are in Texas. I have yet to get a phone call back.”
He called this a corporate situation; he didn’t disagree with what anyone was stating but had concern they would harm the mom-and-pops who are not doing this.
“I would like to look for a way that we can meet in the middle where we are not harming the mom-and-pops but we are not allowing this by the corporate landlords and we close those loopholes that allow them to do this,” stated Barbanica who said many mom-and-pop landlords follow AB 1842 and don’t exercise the loophole. “Where we are seeing that is corporate landlords and large scale landlords.”
Barbanica confirmed with the city attorney that the “Costa-Hawkins Rental Act” still applies under this ordinance.
“My hope is that the mom-and-pops that are going to get caught up in this, many who are trying to do the right thing are not going to suffer because of these corporate landlords and hopefully we can meet somewhere in the middle to resolve this so you don’t have to continue to go through this but they don’t get damaged as you are being damaged right now,” said Barbanica.
Upon Mayor Lamar Thorpe seeking what type of cap they wanted to set, Wilson responded she wanted the 60% of CPI or 3%. Ogorchock suggested a 5% of CPI or 10%.
“We have to start at some place, I understand I may not make everyone happy but I was looking at the Costa-Hawkins and homes we have, it does not apply to some of those but I understand something has to start some place. I apologize if it doesn’t make some individuals happy,” said Ogorchock. “I don’t want to see these properties go up for sale and the owners can go ahead and turn them into condos and redevelop the properties and I would hate to see any of that happen to these properties.”
Torres-Walker backed the 60% of CPI with 3% cap stating she supported what the community has been asking for.
“This is where we need to start from, that is what I support,” said Walker. “I’ve been a community organizer for 13-years, and for 10 of those years, I have worked with tenants and have organized, and I’ve heard these same arguments of landlords going to sell their property, landlords are going to pull their properties from the market. It’s a business, there is always risk in business and I have yet to see a landlord or property pulled off the market or shut down because its bad business not to make money… I don’t want to continue with that type of rhetoric because it has not happened.”
Barbanica said he supported them doing something, but not doing something that harms the mom-and-pops while addressing corporate loopholes.
“My preference is we close the loophole in 1482 locally and follow the guidelines for increases set by 1482, that would stop your 30%, 40%, 60% increase because it would fall right in line with State of California and stop those increases if you stop those loopholes,” said Barbanica. “We can do that locally.”
Thorpe stated when he worked at First 5, he recalled advocates for seeking rent control in the City of Concord and it’s been 7-years and they still talking about it.
“While 15-months may seem like a long time, January seems like a long time. I am proud to say this council has always moved in an expeditious manner to try and get things done from police reform to what we are doing here today,” said Thorpe while balancing capacity of staff. “As I have committed from the very beginning this is the first part of our overall tenant protections of rent control that I proposed. Just Cause Eviction and anti-tenant harassment policy will be coming after this, so there is two more opportunities to solidify these protections in the city of Antioch.”
He then asked for someone to make a motion.
Barbanica motioned the council adopted a resolution to set the limit on rental rate increases based off AB 1482 and follows guidelines of AB 1482 eliminating loophole to raise any higher than what is outlined by AB 1482. His motion failed to get a second.
Wilson motioned to cap rent increases at 60% of CPI or 3%, whichever is less. That motion was approved in a 3-2 vote with Barbanica and Ogorchock dissenting.
Note – per the ordinance:
(A) Pursuant to Costa-Hawkins, the provisions of this Rent Stabilization Ordinance regulating the amount of Rent that a Landlord may charge shall not apply to the following
- Any residential real property that has a certificate of occupancy issued after February 1, 1995 (California Civil Code Section 1954.52(a)(1));
- Any residential real property that is alienable separate from the title to any other dwelling unit or is a subdivided interest in a subdivision, as specified in subdivision (b), (d), or (f) of Section 11004.5 of the California Business
and Professions Code.
- Any other residential real property for which Rent may not be regulated by the City pursuant to Costa-Hawkins.
(B) The provisions of this Rent Stabilization Ordinance regulating the amount of Rent that a Landlord may charge shall not apply to the following:
- A unit owned, operated, or managed by a governmental unit, agency, or authority, or that is specifically exempted from municipal Rent regulation by state or federal law or regulation.
- Dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education or a kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, school.
- Mobile homes located in mobile home parks.
- A unit in a hotel, motel, inn, tourist home, or rooming and boarding house which is rented primarily to transient guests for a period of 30 consecutive calendar days or less, counting portions of calendar days as full days; and
other transient occupancies as defined in California Civil Code Section 1940, subdivision (b).
- A unit in an institutional facility, including a hospital, medical care facility, residential care facility, asylum, group home for seniors or the disabled; a rental unit in a transitional housing program that assists homeless persons
as defined in California Civil Code Section 1954.12.
- A unit that the property Landlord or the property Landlord’s immediate family occupied as their principal place of residence at the beginning of the tenancy so long as the property Landlord or the property Landlord’s immediate family continues in occupancy.
- Units within a dwelling unit, if the dwelling unit is the principal residence of a Landlord, and that Landlord shares the bathroom or kitchen facilities with the tenant
According to the Staff Report:
Although the City of Antioch’s housing prices are lower than many neighboring cities, rent in the City continues to rise. Many local residents, in particular low-income households, struggle with paying for rising housing costs and meeting other basic needs such as food, transportation and health care. The effect of high rents coupled with low incomes, critical shortages of affordable rental housing, and rapidly rising costs for other basic necessities leaves residents vulnerable to economic hardship, housing insecurity and displacement, threatening the public health, safety and welfare of a substantial number of City residents.
The Rent Stabilization Ordinance is intended to provide stability with respect to rent increases and housing by establishing additional tenant protections exceeding those set forth in State law. Many of the findings in the recitals of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which are found on the first three pages of the ordinance, are drawn from the City’s draft Housing Element and support the need for rent stabilization in the City as a means to address threats to public health, safety and welfare caused by cost burden, displacement, and eviction. In particular, the findings highlight the disproportionate risk and impacts borne by households headed by women, large family households, households in areas
identified as “Low Resource” or “High Segregation and Poverty,” and senior households
The staff report continued:
Cities in California can no longer adopt “full” rent control, which would regulate the amount of initial rent, due to the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins” or Civil Code § 1954.50 et seq.). Costa-Hawkins is a state law that, except in very limited circumstances, prohibits local restrictions on the amount of rent a landlord can charge at the beginning of a tenancy. Rent control ordinances that existed in 1995 when Costa- Hawkins was adopted were grandfathered, and the result is that there are a handful of cities with full rent control on certain types and ages of units within those cities. Costa-Hawkins effectively prohibits new local “rent control,” so cities adopting local regulations after 1995 focus instead on “rent stabilization.” This type of regulation protects tenants during their tenancy by limiting how much the rent may be increased each year.
The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (Civil Code § 1946.2 et seq.) enacted statewide rent stabilization. Beginning January 1, 2020, where applicable, rent may be annually increased no more than 5% plus the regional consumer price index (CPI) or 10%, whichever is less.
According to staff, The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins”) is a state law that, except in very limited circumstances, prohibits local restrictions on the amount of rent a landlord can charge at the beginning of a tenancy. For this reason, the City Council is pursuing a Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which regulates rent increases during a tenancy. Costa- Hawkins also significantly restricts which units may be subject to local rent stabilization.
During the July 26, 2022 Study Session, the City Council provided direction to staff to exclude owner-occupied duplexes and Low-Income Tax Credit Program-funded developments from the exemptions to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
This direction was implemented by using the narrower exemption of “A unit owned, operated, or managed by a governmental unit, agency, or authority, or that is specifically exempted from municipal Rent regulation by state or federal law or regulation” instead of a broader exemption used by some cities that includes all “affordable housing” subject to deed-restriction or agreement with a government agency, which would include Low-Income Tax Credit Program-funded developments. The Rent Stabilization Ordinance exemptions do not include any duplex.
The City Council also provided direction on enforcement of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, including a process for tenants to report or contest unlawful rent increases. The Draft Rent Stabilization Ordinance directs the City Manager to designate an office or department to provide information and receive tenant complaints pertaining to violation of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and the City Attorney to designate a hearing officer.
The ordinance will include both Tenant Rent Reduction Petition (rent reduction request) and a Landlord Fair Return Petition (rent increase in excess of rent stabilization ordinance).
Additional Enforcement Remedies
The Rent Stabilization Ordinance also allows tenants to bring an action to recover damages, which could include actual damages (the cost of the harm suffered) or two types of statutory damages: three times the difference between the amount of rent actually charged and the amount authorized to be charged or $1,000, whichever is greater. Persons or entities that may “fairly and adequately represent a protected class” may also bring a civil action for injunction under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
The Rent Stabilization Ordinance also includes a variety of enforcement remedies ranging from criminal prosecution—a declaration that is necessary for the City to utilize its authority to issue administrative citations—to a civil action for injunction by the City for injunctions to stop and prevent violations or for monetary damages.
Rent Program Fee and Registration Requirement
The Rent Stabilization Ordinance establishes a regulatory fee charged to landlords to fund the Rent Stabilization Ordinance program for the sole purpose of reimbursing the City for the costs of administering this Rent Stabilization Ordinance. The fee will be imposed on each rental unit and paid by landlords. Landlords subject to this Rent Stabilization Ordinance will be required to register all units subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance with the City and pay the Rent Program Fee at such time and in such manner as established by City Council resolution.