Renter outcry in Alameda: Who should pay for landlord improvements?

OAKLAND, CA - A dispute over rent increases at an apartment complex in Alameda has brought renewed scrutiny to an obscure housing law used by landlords to pass on millions in costs onto tenants and left the City Council scrambling to find solutions.

The controversy began last week when tenants responded in outrage to a potential rent spike ranging from $100 to $500 a month at a 400-unit apartment complex on the southern edge of Alameda. According to Tony Daysog, the vice mayor of Alameda, the city received numerous phone calls and emails from tenants expressing fear and concern about the rising rent.

The increase was the result of a provision in Alameda’s municipal code that allows property owners to pass the full cost of capital improvements to their tenants — a practice that’s legal nationwide only with special authorization from local government.

“It’s a really common business model that has really negative effects,” said Leah Simon-Weisberg, the legal director for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a tenants rights advocacy group.

To read the full story click here.