From a Lincoln Place Tenant: Next Steps in Protection of Renters

By Sheila Bernard

On Tuesday, July 16th, the Council passed a temporary measure, a moratorium, making it unlawful for a landlord to evict a tenant for the purpose of gentrifying an apartment.

The moratorium lasts only six months, but gives us ample time to propose changes to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance which would make this protection permanent.

So are tenants safe from gentification now? No, not completely. Landlords are likely to use their ace in the hole: a state law called the Ellis Act. According to the Ellis Act, a city cannot stop a landlord from “going out of the rental business.” This means that if a landlord wants to demolish an apartment building, the City must issue the demolition permits.

At present, a landlord who plans to demolish an apartment under the Ellis Act must give tenants 120 days notice (or a year for tenants who are seniors or disabled). Landlords have been known to give tenants notice, then “change their minds” on Day 119, thereby being able to re-rent their vacant apartments for high rents.

A bill in the California Assembly seeks to curb these and other Ellis Act abuses. Lincoln Place Tenants Association, Coalition for Economic Survival, and other renters’ rights groups will support these important reforms in the upcoming legislative session.

Posted: Thu - August 1, 2002 at 05:44 PM