About Our Charter Amendment
The Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Charter Amendment
Our charter amendment has four main components:
- To the extent allowed by State law, rent increases would be limited to 75% of inflation every year after a tenancy is established.
- 75% of inflation typically works out to around 2-3% each year. This means the amount of time it would take for the rent to double is about 35 years.
- This would not set rents for new tenancies.
- If a landlord can prove that their operating expenses have increased, they can petition for a special one-time rent increase.
- If a tenant can prove that the services provided or quality of their unit has decreased, they can petition for a special one-time rent decrease.
- Landlords would only be able to evict tenants after providing a reason ("just cause").
- Some allowed reasons for evictions are "at fault" just causes like non-payment of rent, breach of lease, and refusal to give access for necessary repairs.
- Other reasons for evictions are "no fault" just causes like the landlord permanently removing the unit from the rental market, or a government order to vacate the unit.
- If a tenant is evicted for a "no fault" reason, our amendment would provide additional help to the tenant. Landlords would have to pay relocation assistance to help them move, and if the landlord has a comparable unit available, the tenants being displaced would have first choice of that unit.
- A rental board appointed by city council, but otherwise independent of it, would be created to implement the provisions of the charter amendment.
- The rental board has seven tenant members (one from each district of Pasadena) and four "at-large" members.
- The rental board is salaried, so that low-income tenants can afford to participate on it.
- The rental board salaries will be paid by a per-unit flat fee on any landlords wishing to rent out residential units in Pasadena.
- A rental registry would be created which would keep track of all the rental units in the city and the history of the rent charged at that rental unit.
- This will help housing advocates, local government, and the rental board make informed decisions about housing policy.
- It will also allow tenants to verify that a unit is legal before signing a lease, and see if the landlord has a history of frequent rent increases.
The full text of the charter amendment is available as a PDF at the link below. An executive summary is also provided on this page.
Partially Exempt (from rent stabilization only):
- Failure to pay rent - after receiving written notice to cease
- Breach of lease - after receiving written notice to cease
- Tenant cannot be evicted for creating a sublease in violation of the lease provided:
- Tenant still resides in the unit, and The sublease replaces departed tenants on a one-for-one basis, and:
- The landlord has unreasonably withheld the right to sublease following written request from the tenant.
- Protections for families: the Tenant cannot be evicted for violating the lease agreement by:
- Adding to the Rental Unit the Tenant’s child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, other dependent relative, or the spouse or domestic partner of such relatives, or the Tenant’s spouse or domestic partner.
- Adding to the Rental Unit a single additional adult Tenant.
- None of these exceptions apply if the addition of a Tenant would cause the number of occupants to exceed the maximum number of occupants allowed by Cal. Health and Safety Code.
- Tenant cannot be evicted for creating a sublease in violation of the lease provided:
- Nuisance - after receiving written notice to cease
- Using the unit for an illegal purpose
- Refusal to execute a new lease
Provided the terms of the new lease are materially the same as those of the previous lease.
- Failure to give access
Provided the Tenant has received proper notice, and the Landlord intends to access the unit for the purpose of making repairs, inspection permitted or required by law, or for showing the Unit to any prospective purchaser or mortgagee.
- Subtenant in sole possession:
The person in possession of the Unit at the end of a lease term is a subtenant not approved by the Landlord.
- Necessary and Substantial Repairs Requiring Temporary Vacancy
Landlord must have all required permits and must have provided written notice to Tenant.
City has verified that work will render the Unit uninhabitable for at least 30 days.
Tenant can elect one or both of
Right of first refusal to another vacant unit owned by the Landlord.
First right of return to reoccupy their Unit upon completion.
- Owner Move-In
The Landlord seeks to use the Unit as a primary residence for themselves or their spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents.
Landlord must give six months written notice to Tenant.
Landlord must be a natural person.
Landlord or relative must occupy Unit for at least thirty-six consecutive months.
Extra protections for elderly/disabled Tenants.
- Permanent WIthdrawal of Unit from Rental Market
Pursuant to the Ellis Act, Landlord may evict all Tenants if they intend to withdraw the whole property from the market and go out of the rental business, or to demolish the property.
Landlord must file documents with the Rental Board
Tenants must receive 180 day written notice. Longer for senior or disabled Tenants.
- Government Order Government order to vacate, abate, comply, etc. To the extent allowed by state law, Tenant must receive advance notice and must be able to elect right of first refusal or first right of return, similar to case of Necessary and Substantial Repairs.
If a landlord wishes to evict Tenants for one of causes (8-11), the so called “no-fault” causes (because they are not the fault of the Tenant), they must provide monetary relocation assistance to the Tenant.
Retaliation is barred.
Harassment is Prohibited.
The buyout agreement must be provided to the Tenant on a standard form prepared by the Rental Board which must be signed and dated by both parties. On this form, the Tenant shall be informed that they have forty-five days from the date of signing to cancel the agreement with no penalty. The form will also advise the tenant that they have the right to refuse a buyout agreement and the right to consult an attorney and/or the Rental Board before signing the agreement. The Landlord must file the executed agreement with the Rental Board.
Powers and Duties:
Conflict of Interest:
The Rental Board will also create an online portal to disseminate some of this data to the public.
The Rental Registry and online portal will be operational within one year of the effective date of this article.
All owners of property containing Covered Rental Units must submit an annual Registry form.
This form collects, among other types of data,
The Rental Board will maintain an online portal which publicizes, among other things,
The Rental Board may also publish information about violations of housing codes or of this article pertaining to a given Unit or Property through the online portal, in an effort to bring transparency to the behavior of landlords in Pasadena. The Board will establish regulations which limit these publications in order to respect the privacy of Tenants and abide by applicable law.
The Board will periodically collect, analyze, and publish reports on the status of rental housing in Pasadena using this and other sources of data.
Petitions for Upward Adjustment: Fair Return
Landlords have the right, under this article, to obtain a net operating income equal to the base year net operating income adjusted by fifty percent of the change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) since the base year.
Operating income is defined carefully in the full text of the amendment, but does account for necessary expenses towards repairs, maintenance, and improvements. Exceptional circumstances which affected the operating income in the base year. Others in the full text.
Petitions for Downward Adjustment
If the petition is granted, the Landlord must adjust the rent downward to a lawful level moving forward. The landlord must also return any excessive rent charged. If the Landlord fails to return this rent within thirty days of the issuance of an order to do so, the Hearing Officer or Rental Board may authorize the Tenant to withhold a fraction of the downward-adjusted rent for a time sufficient to effectively return to them the excessive rent charged. A withholding order will constitute an affirmative defense to eviction for nonpayment of rent during the withholding period.
In all scenarios, the petitioner (whether Tenant or Landlord) must present evidence and documentation establishing grounds for their claim.
The Rental Board will appoint one or more Hearing Officers (paid staff) who will conduct open hearings (unless prohibited by law) to determine the facts underlying a petition for adjustment of rent, and subsequently to render a decision based on the merits of the petition.
The Hearing Officer will collect evidence, records, documents, etc. from each party involved in a petition, and may conduct inspections of the Unit(s) in question. The Hearing Officer will not grant any petition for adjustment unless it is supported by the preponderance of the evidence submitted prior to and during the hearing.
Any party to the petition aggrieved by the decision of the Hearing Officer may appeal to the full Rental Board for review.
Tenants may or may not choose to file a petition before seeking such a civil remedy. If the landlord has recovered possession of a Unit on grounds of some events specified in Section 1806 (example: owner move-in), but has not actually initiated that event within two months of the Tenant’s vacation, or has acted in bad faith or made a false claim, the Tenant will be entitled to regain possession at the old rent. If a landlord fails to comply with any provision of this article, or regulation promulgated by the Rental Board, Tenants may raise this as an affirmative defense in an eviction case (unlawful detainer). Victims of domestic violence, abuse, sexual assault, or stalking who are given notice to vacate based on acts consituting the violence, assault, abuse, or stalking (e.g. if construed as noise violations or nuisances by the landlord) may raise this circumstance as an affirmative defense to an eviction.
The Rental Board or City Attorney may bring a civil action against a Landlord on the Tenant’s behalf. The Tenant may opt in or out of the action.
The Rental Board may establish fines as penalties for violations of provisions of this article or of their regulations. Landlords who violate this article may also be charged with a misdemeanor under Section 1.24.010 of Pasadena Municipal Code.
If any part of the article is deemed invalid, other, severable parts of the article will remain valid.
Section 1820: Supersedes
Roughly, this article supersedes any conflicting provisions of an existing municipal ordinance. It also supersedes any conflicting initiative ordinance. If there is a conflicting charter amendment, it will supersede that amendment where the two conflict if it receives more votes than that amendment. Where the two do not conflict, the provisions of this article will still apply.
Section 1821: Conflicting Charter Provisions
Any provisions of this article which conflict with other existing provisions of the Pasadena City Charter will govern. It does not, however, supersede any provisions of the Charter not related to the provisions of this article.
Section 1822: Codification
The City Clerk and City Attorney will properly and efficiently codify this amendment into the City Charter without altering any substantive provision of this article.
Section 1823: Duty to Defend
The City Attorney must zealously defend this article against legal challenges. Otherwise, a third party may intervene to defend the article.
Section 1824: Majority Approval, Effective Date, Execution
The amendment is effective only if approved by a majority of voters, and will go into effect ten days after the vote is declared by City Council.
The following presentation goes over the basics of our charter amendment and the problems facing Pasadena tenants it hopes to address.