Chula Vista City Council Sends Landlord-Tenant Ordinance Back for Further Review

Legislative Updates ,

The Chula Vista City Council has decided to send its proposed Residential Landlord Tenant law back for further review and revisions, saying more data and revisions are needed. The decision took place at a meeting on May 17, 2022 after the council heard hours of testimony from dozens of community activists and “mom and pop” landlords who oppose the extreme and unnecessary proposal, including members of the Southern California Rental Housing Association (SCRHA).

The ordinance would create a new layer of bureaucracy on top of the existing state tenant protections related to so-called “no-fault evictions.” These include evictions in which a building must be vacated for a major remodel, to be taken off the market or demolished, or for the owner to move back in.

At the meeting, it was made clear that the proposed ordinance is not based on any documented need. City leaders repeatedly referred to multiple complaints about just two specific apartment complexes, which were identified publicly as Meheli Palms and 442 Smith Avenue.

“The City of Chula Vista’s proposal is unneeded and unfairly seeks to punish tens of thousands of hard-working housing providers for the actions of two bad landlords. It uses a sledgehammer where a scalpel is more appropriate,” said SCRHA Executive Director Alan Pentico. “This proposed law is the definition of bad legislation – it creates more of the bureaucracy and red tape that helped create the housing shortage in the first place. It hurts property owners who want to move into their own homes when they lose a job, get married, or grow their family, and it forces local owners out of business, leaving big corporations to take their place.”

City Councilmember Jill Galvez pointed out that the City’s data from Legal Aid Society of San Diego showed that “no fault” eviction disputes involve fewer than .27 percent of the 33,000 rental homes in Chula Vista annually – a tiny number showing the problem is not widespread.

The ordinance would create new, vague “anti-harassment” rules regulating how landlords could speak to tenants, would impose burdensome notification requirements ranging from 60 days to 365 days before a building could be renovated, and would require large relocation payments equal to two months’ rent. Additionally, it would force landlords to give evicted renters the first right of refusal to move back in after a renovation – even if the renter caused the damage to the property.

City leaders also acknowledged at the meeting that the City has not used its existing options to go after bad landlords.

Chula Vista has multiple avenues to go after bad landlords that are not currently being utilized:

  • The City can refer tenant harassment or violations of the state tenant protection law for prosecution to the District Attorney’s Office. Yet the City has not referred a single tenant complaint to the District Attorney. At the May 17 meeting, the City Council voted to make a referral of several complaints for the first time.
  • The City can cite or prosecute landlords who violate the Municipal Code for not keeping the property in good condition, creating unpleasant or hazardous conditions. Yet the City has not pursued tenant complaints of landlords who violate codes.
  • The City can perform outreach to inform tenants of their rights. Yet the City does not do any tenant outreach.

“We are pleased that the City Council finally decided to refer tenant complaints to the District Attorney’s office, which it could have been doing all along,” Pentico said. “Let’s use more of the tools the City already has available to go after that tiny number of bad landlords who give the profession a bad name.”

A revised ordinance is expected to be considered by the City Council on July 12. SCRHA will continue to advocate for fair legislation along with its coalition partners, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® (PSAR), San Diego Association of REALTORS® (SDAR) and the California Apartment Association (CAA).

ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RENTAL HOUSING ASSOCIATION:
The Southern California Rental Housing Association is the region’s leading trade association serving the rental housing industry. We provide education and advocacy to individuals and companies who own, manage, or provide services to the rental housing industry throughout Southern California. For over 100 years, Southern California Rental Housing Association has provided members and the industry with education and training, networking opportunities, and critical legislative advocacy. As a leader in the industry, the Southern California Rental Housing Association represents more than 2,400 members and is one of the most highly respected rental housing associations. Affiliated with the National Apartment Association, our mission is to protect and preserve the economic vitality of the rental housing industry in California and the nation. For more information, visit https://www.socalrha.org/.