“The final details of an urgency ordinance to eliminate no-cause evictions are being prepared for the Beverly Hills City Council’s Nov. 6 meeting.
The council unanimously voted to implement the urgency ordinance during a special meeting on Oct. 18.
According to a news release from the city, Chapter 5 of the current Rent Stabilization Ordinance requires landlords to have a just cause in order to evict a tenant, including failure to pay rent, violations of obligations of a tenancy, refusal to provide access and unapproved tenants. Chapter 6, which the urgency ordinance eliminates, allows landlords to evict tenants with no cause if they pay relocation fees.
During an earlier meeting on the day the council passed the ordinance, residents gathered to talk about the hardships they said they’ve faced due to no-cause evictions. One landlord, Stephen Copen, was mentioned multiple times for, among other reasons, allegedly failing to address code violations at his properties or keep up with maintenance. One newlywed couple said they received an eviction notice from Copen, who told them it was because he worried new city regulations would inhibit his rights as a landlord. There were also allegations he was using “sham tenants” as a ploy to raise rents and renting units on Airbnb.
Copen did not respond to a request for comment.
“I’d like to have action and understand what we can do today,” Councilwoman Lili Bosse said, hours before council members approved the urgency ordinance.
Vice Mayor John Mirisch asked if the city had the basis for an urgency ordinance.
“We talk about the bad actors, this dude is the exact person we want to deal with,” he said.
In a follow up phone call, Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold said “it’s unfortunate that one bad player kind of tipped the scale as drastically as he did.”
He added that “the public testimony was persuasive enough” to justify the council’s decision to pass an urgency ordinance later that day. The agenda for the council’s Oct. 18 morning meeting originally called for a review of possible changes to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance before the public comment period made council members want to take immediate action on no-cause evictions.
According to the city’s news release, more than half of renter households in Beverly Hills are considered rent burdened and nearly 30 percent are considered severely rent burdened.
Last year, the Beverly Hills City Council approved an urgency ordinance that limited rent increases to 3 percent (since raised to 4.1 percent), made no-cause evictions reviewable by the city and established a rental registry. The city has been working with both sides to develop long-term provisions ever since.
Before the urgency ordinance was approved, longtime tenants said they were feeling increasingly vulnerable to rent increases they couldn’t afford and no-cause evictions that could force them from the city. Council members said the registry will enable the city for the first time to compile data on rent increases and evictions.
Council members continue to develop a new Rent Stabilization Ordinance, and Gold said he’s still targeting the beginning of 2019 to have it in place.”