Tenants might get hit with fee for rent control

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Mountain View tenants may soon have to chip in for rent control.

Currently the city’s new rent control program charges landlords $155 per year, but on Monday night, the Rental Housing Committee will consider allowing landlords to pass off the fee to renters.

The rent control law, which was passed by almost 54% of Mountain View voters last November, will require an organization projected to cost almost $2.6 million per year, funded by annual fees distributed among the 16,788 homes covered by rent control.

The law currently doesn’t specifically authorize passing the fee to tenants. Most other California cities with rent control, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and West Hollywood, allow splitting the fee with tenants.

In San Jose, passing the fee off to tenants requires City Council authorization. On Oct. 18, the executive director and legal counsel of Richmond’s rent control program recommended not allowing landlords to pass off the $145 fee. Alameda doesn’t impose a fee for rent control.

Program costs almost $700,000

The rent control program is budgeted to hire five new city employees with salaries totaling $636,000, plus $50,000 in fees for the city attorney’s office.

The ordinance went into effect Dec. 23 and limits rent increases on homes built before Feb. 1, 1995 to 3.4% once per year with at least a month’s written notice. The law also prevents landlords from evicting tenants from any home without one of nine “just cause” conditions, including rent nonpayment or criminal activity.