San Jose tenants say the city’s rent control policy is ineffective.
This bleak finding comes from a recent survey featuring more than 200 tenants and landlords who report feeling underwhelmed by ongoing city efforts to slow soaring rent costs.
The survey, conducted by consulting firm RSG, is part of a larger effort to collect feedback from tenants and landlords on the city’s five housing stability laws. Staff members from the San Jose Housing Department held a series of online and in-person community meetings beginning in March to learn how renters and property owners feel about the ordinances. Consultants presented results at the most recent meeting on Tuesday.
The results show 64% of tenants surveyed feel the city’s apartment rent ordinance, which limits the amount landlords can raise rents each year, is not effective at protecting renters from rent increases.
Landlords report more closely divided results: a little less than half of the landlords surveyed feel the ordinance has been effective so far.
Robert Aguirre, an advocate for homeless residents, said housing costs are still too high, despite ongoing rent control efforts by the city.
“They’re allowed to raise the rent 5% a year, and a lot of the landlords are doing that automatically,” Aguirre told San José Spotlight. “It’s not keeping up with the wages. Wages are not going up 5% a year.”
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose was $2,585 in March, according to Zumper, an online marketplace for apartment rentals. San Jose has quickly become one of the most expensive places to live in the nation. Past polls and annual city surveys have shown a growing discontent among renters with steep housing costs in San Jose that continue to increase.
Survey consultants also presented feedback collected from the recent community meetings. Tenants said the city’s 5% annual cap on rent increases is necessary to keep housing affordable, according to RSG analyst Samantha Wu Rose. She noted that tenants want rent control to include more types of housing, such as duplexes and newer homes. The current rule only covers apartments built prior to Sept. 7, 1979, though there’s also a separate rent control ordinance for mobile homes. Renters also said more outreach is needed from the city to inform tenants of their rights.
Landlords said the city’s apartment rent control rules make it hard to get a fair return on their properties, due to the annual rent increase limit and the cost of repairs. They also complained that the city’s tenant protection ordinance makes it too difficult to evict problematic renters that create nuisances for other tenants, Wu Rose said, noting the landlords surveyed feel the eviction process is too expensive and takes too much time.
Roberta Moore, a broker associate with Compass and landlord, said the city’s apartment rent control rules have had unintended consequences, including a steep rise in rents for homes covered by the policy compared to market-rate homes.
“I predicted it, I warned against it, I provided reports that showed this would happen,” Moore told San José Spotlight. “We all warned against this.”
Attendee Greg O’Hagan said during Tuesday’s meeting that rent control should only apply to residents who are truly in need of rental assistance.
“Owners are sensitive to those tenants who are in need, and let’s help those tenants. But not all tenants need assistance,” O’Hagan said. “This will help with long-term upkeep of (mobile home) parks.”
Nancy Stevens said during the meeting that she understands why landlords need a fair return on their investments. However, she argued that mobile home owners like herself already spend a large amount of their limited incomes toward housing costs each month.
“I pay the taxes for the property my mobile home sits on. In addition, I pay monthly rent to have my home sit on this property,” Stevens said. “I feel I do my share.”
Contact Sonya Herrera at [email protected] or follow @SMHsoftware on Twitter.
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