San Jose OKs strict eviction controls, eyes even stricter rent cap — again

After several hours of testimony, including strong opposition from the California Apartment Association, the San Jose City Council on Tuesday tentatively approved wide-ranging eviction controls on the city’s entire rental housing stock.

The council, which voted 6-5 in favor of San Francisco-style “just cause,” is scheduled to formally adopt the policy in two weeks. The measures would apply to both rent controlled and non-rent controlled units throughout the city, as well as single-family homes and duplexes.

In addition to moving ahead with just cause, the council now is considering a stricter limit on annual rent increases.

City staff will now study basing the city’s rent cap on changes to the rate of inflation. This comes just one year after the council lowered its cap on annual rent increases from 8 percent to 5 percent for the city’s 43,000 rent controlled units.

If San Jose starts basing its rent control formula on the consumer price index, its rent control laws will practically mirror the draconian policies that have made San Francisco one of America’s least affordable cities for housing.

Under the just cause policy approved Tuesday, a landlord can only evict a tenant when certain, narrow conditions are met.

For example, a landlord will lose the ability to evict a tenant for committing a violent or drug-related crime, unless the tenant has been convicted of the crime or the landlord can offer proof of the criminal activity.

While some argued that San Jose needs a just cause ordinance to prevent unwarranted evictions, this is not the case.

“San Jose already has laws on the books to prevent landlords from evicting tenants as a way to raise the rent,” said Joshua Howard, CAA’s senior vice president for Northern California. “The city needs to enforce those laws rather than create new laws, impose more regulations and add additional layers of bureaucracy.”

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