Modifications are final outcome of 2014 Fuller Seminary lockout of students and staff
Published : Tuesday, August 22, 2017 | 5:07 AM
In one of the shortest meetings in recent memory, the Pasadena City Council Monday evening approved the final reading of the Tenant Protection Ordinance, an addition to the City’s municipal code, which clarifies the conditions under which certain displaced tenants are eligible to receive relocation and moving expense allowances.
The Council had the minimum number of members for a quorum, as councilmembers Victor Gordo, Tyron Hampton, and Steve Madison, were absent at roll call. Madison arrived shortly after the meeting began. The meeting lasted a total of 54 minutes.
The new tenant ordinance, which was approved unanimously, mandates that all tenants in good standing living in households at or below 140% of the median income, by household size, shall be paid a relocation allowance equal to two months fair market rents as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) for a rental unit of a similar size.
Part of the original impetus for the changes in the ordinance came from the July 2014 sale of three dorm apartment buildings by Fuller Theological Seminary to Carmel Partners, Inc. Following the sale, some students and staff members were literally locked out of their apartments.
City staff, representatives of Fuller Theological Seminary, Caltech, and William Carey International University all worked together to develop the new modifications to the ordinance.
In addition to the relocation allowance, landlords must pay a moving expense allowance in the amount of $1,000.00 for three-adult households or $3,000.00 for households with dependents, disabled, or senior members.
According to the ordinance, the relocation allowance and moving expense allowance will be automatically increased every year in accordance with changes in the HUD fair market rents. The moving expense allowance provided would also be adjusted annually in accordance with the Consumer Price Index for the Los Angeles-Long Beach metro area.
Tenants will be eligible for the relocation allowance in cases where a landlord or property owner seeks to recover possession of the unit for purpose of demolition; the landlord is removing the rental unit permanently from the rental housing market; the landlord wishes to make the unit available for himself or herself, or a family member; or the landlord needs to comply with a governmental agency’s order vacating the rental unit as a result of a violation of housing, health, building or safety laws of the state of California or the City of Pasadena.
The relocation allowance and moving expense allowance is also available to students, faculty members, and/or staff members, of any educational institution, living in housing provided by that same educational institution, if such student, faculty member, and/or staff member is able to demonstrate, that their tenancy was terminated by the landlord more than 365 days after the date on which the student, faculty member, and/or staff member discontinued enrollment or employment in the institution.
In order to qualify for the payments, tenants must provide signed certification and documentation of household members and household income, as well as “any other documentation as may be reasonably requested by the landlord, City, or City consultant,” according to the ordinance
The ordinance also states that “any landlord who fails to provide relocation assistance and moving expense allowance as required by this section shall be liable in a civil action to the tenant to whom such assistance is due for damages in the amount of the relocation fee and the moving expense fee the landlord has failed to pay, a civil penalty in the amount of five hundred dollars and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs as determined by the court. The court may also award punitive damages in a proper case.”
Landords would be prohibited from creating any agreements with tenants exempting either tenants or landlords from the ordinance.
The new modified ordinance will become effective immediately.