The Campaign for Rent Control and Eviction Protections
The Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition (PTJC) has launched its campaign for rent control and eviction protections in Pasadena. Our campaign will address the lack of tenant protections in Pasadena resulting in unconscionable rent increases, as well as the city’s allowance of the practice of evicting tenants who are in full observance of their lease obligations, resulting in extreme housing instability for many tenants. Low and moderate income tenants of color have been especially hard hit by the city’s failure to control rents and its permission of arbitrary evictions.
The campaign seeks to establish laws giving tenants basic dignity in their housing: rent control ensures rents cannot increase more than inflation, and eviction protections ensure landlords can’t evict tenants without cause. In June, we started collecting signatures for a petition to put a measure on the June 7, 2022 ballot. Support our campaign by volunteering, donating, and spreading the word that we are here to end rent gouging displacement of tenants!
The Basics of Rent Control and Eviction Protections for Pasadena
What is rent control and what are eviction protections?
We have to pass rent control and eviction protections at the same time because it is impossible to have eviction protections without rent control. Without rent control, a landlord wanting to evict a tenant for an unfair reason could simply raise the rent to a level they know the tenant cannot afford to pay. Then, they can evict the tenant for non-payment of rent.
Why does Pasadena need rent control and eviction protections?
Pasadena families are struggling to afford rent, which puts them at risk of displacement and homelessness. Nearly half of all tenant households in Pasadena pay more than 30% of their income to rent, making them rent-burdened. Over a quarter of tenant households pay more than half of their income to rent, making them severely rent-burdened. The City of Pasadena has recognized severe rent burden as the greatest predictor of homelessness risk in its 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan.
Rising rents are causing Pasadena to lose its families, its diversity and its key community members, such as teachers, students, and nurses. As one example: if families cannot afford to live in Pasadena, then they move out, taking their kids out of Pasadena schools, breaking community ties.
Rent control encourages stable, long term residents who consider Pasadena their home and make Pasadena the community it is. Development of corporate-owned luxury apartments is devastating long-standing Pasadena communities with massive rent increases, cruel evictions, and gentrification. The City of Pasadena has consistently called homelessness its biggest problem. Rent control protects elders who live on fixed income and protects residents from becoming homeless as a result of steeply rising rents.
Does Pasadena support rent control and eviction protections?
Yes! Though it did not pass statewide, 54.8% of voters in Pasadena voted yes on Prop 10 to legalize more expansive forms of rent control -- meaning a majority of Pasadenans are in favor of rent control.
Also, in a 2019 poll of 700 likely voters in Pasadena commissioned by Pasadenans Organizing for Progress, eviction protections received 82% support while rent control received 69% support.
What will Pasadena look like in the future if rent control is not enacted?
Without rent control and just cause, large real estate developers will continue homogenizing Pasadena into a city of luxury housing. Black/African American, Hispanic, and multiracial households are much more likely to be tenants - and will be at the most risk of displacement due to rising rents. Without rent control, we will lose much of the diversity of our city as tenant households are forced out.
Without rent control and just cause, Pasadenans will continue to suffer from housing instability. As a result of rising rents and a lack of eviction protections, more than double the number of tenants as compared to homeowners have moved in the last seven years - and this applies to all age groups including among adults 35-64 who are likely to have school-aged children.
Don't we already have rent control in California?
We have a state law called the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which creates weak eviction protections and rent increase limits for some people. However, this law is not enough to protect tenants for several reasons.
- The Tenant Protection Act sunsets in 2030. PTJC's rent control and eviction protection law does not have an expiration date.
- The Tenant Protection Act only protects certain tenants. It doesn't protect tenants who live in single family homes, or tenants who live in apartment buildings owned by a natural person (instead of a corporation). It doesn't protect tenants who live in housing that has been constructed in the last 15 years. PTJC's proposal would protect as many tenants as possible within the constraints of state and federal laws.
- The Tenant Protection Act allows a rent increase of 5% + inflation each year. This typically corresponds to a rent increase of around 8% per year, which means your rent can double every nine years. This is actually faster than rents have been increasing on average in Pasadena over the last decade. That is why the Tenant Protection Act does nothing to preserve our stock of affordable housing in the city. PTJC's proposal allows a rent increase of 75% of inflation each year, which typically corresponds to around a 2% rent increase per year. Under this law, it would take 35 years for your rent to double.
How will these new laws be regulated?
A no-cost rental board to the City of Pasadena will assist both tenants and landlords with housing concerns and rental housing policy for the City of Pasadena. The rental board will have 11 members, 7 of whom must be tenants representing each of Pasadena's seven districts. The board will be funded by a per-unit fee to any landlords renting housing in the city.
Will rent control cause landlords to lose the incentive to repair their rental units?
Rent control does not discourage repairs of units. In fact, tenants will send in requests for repairs, and landlords will respond to complete repairs, as a part of a system of supervision performed by a rental board. In our proposal, if a landlord allows a unit to fall into disrepair or reduces services (like garbage collection), then the tenant can petition the rental board for a rent decrease.
Will rent control dictate how much landlords can charge for rent?
No -- landlords can set starting rents at whatever point they wish, this is guaranteed by state law. Rent control reasonably limits how much rents can increase once a tenant has signed a lease.
Building Community Support
We are reaching out to all parts of Pasadena to engage the entire city in the campaign. We want everyone to know the truth about the important of rent control and eviction protections. We will be registering people to vote and educating people about their rights as tenants! We already know that Pasadenans want rent control - a 2019 survey of 700 likely Pasadena voters indicated a strong margin of support for rent control and even stronger enthusiasm for new laws that would protect against unjust evictions.
It is critically important that we turn this city-wide, distributed interest in tenant rights into an organized movement around rent control and just cause!