Included in the amendments is a measure that allows landlords
exemption from providing just cause for an eviction if they offer
tenants a 12-month lease. If a tenant turns down the lease, they can
be evicted without cause.
The measure is a sticking point for some tenant advocates.
"The City Council substantially weakened it by allowing the
landlords to opt out by simply offering a lease to the tenant," said
Ken Carlson, president of the Glendale Tenant Assn. "It is a
truck-sized loophole that I think undermines the entire purpose of
Mike Allen, a member of the Glendale Housing Crisis Forum, said
the amendment could hurt tenants who don't realize the consequences
of turning down a lease. Landlords could offer an outlandish lease
just to get tenants to turn it down, he said.
"In the interest of cooperation, we've agreed to go along with it,
but we really think that the lease option is a real problem," he
said. "Landlords could use that to get out from under the law."
The lease-option amendment was one of several adjustments
suggested to the council by a panel of landlord and tenant experts
who reviewed the just-cause law. Carlson's and Allen's organizations
participated in the discussions.
Frank Whitehead, a landlord attorney in Pasadena who also helped
draft the amendments, said the tenant groups' fears seem unfounded.
"There's a potential problem, but I think they're kind of letting
their imaginations run wild on how it could be abused," he said.
"Ultimately, we have the courts to put a stop to any abuse."
City Atty. Scott Howard said the amendments were agreed upon by
landlord and tenant advocates on the panel.
"We got consensus on it, but that doesn't mean we had unanimity on
it," he said. "We looked for a strong majority consensus, and it was
not a numerically based thing. If tenant representatives would not
agree, we would not have put it in the staff report as a consensus."
Howard and City Manager Jim Starbird facilitated the discussions
between the landlord-tenant experts, who included attorneys,
apartment associations, Realtors and housing-rights advocates. After
six meetings, the amendments were offered to the council.
"The participants in the meetings walked away not entirely happy,
but not entirely unhappy," Howard said. "You know you've got a good
settlement if everybody walks away not entirely happy. These
amendments made the ordinance better. It gives the landlords
something to address their concerns, and it gives the tenants a
little more protection."
Another provision in the amendments requires that landlords
provide relocation assistance if tenants are evicted for specific
reasons, like repairs. Landlords must provide two times the
fair-market rent as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development, and an extra $1,000.
The relocation amendment is a huge win for tenants, Whitehead
"Now the tenant is taking a piece of the property with him if he's
evicted," he said. "That's a huge shift in property rights. The
tenant is almost part-owner and has a lien on the property."