The Long Beach City Council will consider amending the city’s policy that determines when a tenant can be displaced because their landlord is remodeling their unit as a moratorium the council put on those types of evictions earlier this year expires at the end of December.
Remodel-driven evictions had been allowed in the city, provided that a landlord pulled building permits for “substantial” work to be completed, gave copies of those permits to the tenant, and issued a 60-day notice to vacate the unit. Substantial work was defined as a project that would take more than 30 days to complete.
Tenants rights groups took to referring to the policy as a “substantial remodel loophole” and the council voted in July to ban those through the rest of the year so a long-term solution could be figured out.
On Tuesday, the council is expected to decide between three options to amend the policy. A city staff report is recommending an option that would redefine a substantial remodel to a project that would take at least 60 days to complete and more clearly define what types of projects would qualify as substantial.
Under the staff recommended policy, the council could create a civil fine structure that could see landlords fined as much as $15,000 in civil court if they’re found to have intentionally violated the city’s ordinance. Landlords could also be required to notify the city when they evict tenants for remodeling.
The notification window for landlords to issue an eviction notice could also be increased to 90 days, according to the report.
Another option that could be considered for Long Beach’s new ordinance would be to increase the amount a landlord would have to pay to relocate a tenant. State law requires $1,000 in tenant relocation assistance but it could be increased to $4,500 if the City Council includes it in a new policy.
Something that’s not likely to be considered is the establishment of a new city department to oversee rental unit remodels, similar to one in Los Angeles.
The program could cost as much as $2 million annually to operate, according to a city memo, as the city would have to hire additional staff to oversee the entire process from a tenant being notified of construction through the completion of the construction.
Under LA’s Tenant Habitability Program, landlords have to submit a plan to the city’s building department that outlines the scope of the work, the contractor doing the work, estimates of project costs and time for each unit, and the impact on the habitability for each affected tenant.
The LA program also requires landlords to mitigate any effects from the construction to the extent possible to limit the exposure of tenants to hazardous materials, other hazards, and theft. The city of Los Angeles can ultimately deny a landlord request if the submitted plan does not meet its requirements.
The Long Beach City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. inside the Bob Foster Civic Chambers.