She said the slow rollout of rent relief, coupled with the moratorium on evictions, meant frustrated landlords were looking for other ways to make their tenants pay or leave.
But Singh said another reason more tenants in cities like Concord are pushing for these proposals is that over the past decade more people of color and especially low-income tenants have moved away. expensive coastal towns looking for affordable housing.
“As people are pushed further and further, often inland,” she said, “they move to places where they have no protection, and they try to organize in these places”.
Landlord advocates have pushed back against these new local policies, saying they are unnecessary since the state has already laws that prohibit landlords from harassing their tenants. Joshua Howard of the California Apartment Association criticized the local policies as being too broad.
“What these orders do is they invite excessive punishment for landlords for making what could be considered an innocent mistake,” he said.
Local ordinances expand the definition of what can be considered harassment beyond what is already permitted in State Law. At Concorde, which could include behaviors like failing to accept rent payments, fail to make repairs in a timely manner, or enter the rental unit outside of business hours, unless requested by the tenant.
“So not only could the owner be sued under state law, but they could also be sued under local law,” Howard said, calling the policies overly punitive. “It creates double jeopardy and a second mechanism to prosecute the owner and impose significant fines, costs and penalties.”
Tenant organizers say these penalties are necessary to send a strong message to landlords and property managers that harassment will not be tolerated.
“It really empowers tenants,” Singh said. “What they instinctively know is that this [behavior] is wrong, but the fact that it is legally wrong actually gives them a lot of strength.