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Palo Alto bans eviction of tenants who can't pay rent during pandemic

Original post made on Mar 24, 2020

Palo Alto landlords will not be allowed to evict residential tenants whose ability to pay rent is being hindered by the coronavirus pandemic under a law that the City Council unanimously approved on Monday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 23, 2020, 11:10 PM

Comments (21)

45 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 5:19 am

Since the city is sitting on a surplus from the previous year, they should pay the person's rent, instead of saying the landlord should wait for the rent. then the tenant can repay the city in 120 days.

Same for commercial tenants/small businesses. this would help alot of small businesses survive this pandemic.

How easy is it for the council to give away other people's money


13 people like this
Posted by Angie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2020 at 6:13 am

This is a little misleading about the public comment. People did not attend the meeting but they got a record number of emails from residents about this - not just 2 nonprofit letters.


14 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 9:02 am

When business is before the Council, there ought to be some notice by the City Clerk of the number of emails and letters received by the Clerk's Office. This number would then be in the public record, as well as known to the Council before discussing and voting on City business.


33 people like this
Posted by Rambutan
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 24, 2020 at 9:19 am

Thank you Council for taking action to protect the health of our entire community by preventing more people from becoming homeless.

Economic recovery will have to wait as we prioritize our health.


15 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2020 at 1:22 pm

I would like to reiterate what was posted by "common sense" (quoted below). It is an unfair burden to put on rental property owners, not when it's the City that should be helping its citizens. This is basically making rental property owners give out short-term loans without any compensation (interest, etc) or regard for their ability to do so, shouldn't that be the City or County's job?

"Since the city is sitting on a surplus from the previous year, they should pay the person's rent, instead of saying the landlord should wait for the rent. then the tenant can repay the city in 120 days.

Same for commercial tenants/small businesses. this would help alot of small businesses survive this pandemic.

How easy is it for the council to give away other people's money"


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Downtown North

>> I would like to reiterate what was posted by "common sense" (quoted below). It is an unfair burden to put on rental property owners, not when it's the City that should be helping its citizens. This is basically making rental property owners give out short-term loans without any compensation (interest, etc) or regard for their ability to do so,

>> Same for commercial tenants/small businesses. this would help a lot of small businesses survive this pandemic.

I'm happy to force XYZ Corp with billions in assets to defer rents, but, not happy to force the little people to do it.

>> How easy is it for the council to give away other people's money"

Any such program should focus on helping with the hardest case: the little people who owe rent to other little people, including, for example, non-profit low-income housing providers, and retired people who rent out small units to working people.


18 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2020 at 1:41 pm

The writing's been on the wall for quite some time about people who rent out their homes. If the rent control advocates don't get you, the "emergency measures" will.

As I've said before, though, a healthy community is built by long-term owners -- not short-term renters. If this encourages people to sell their homes to new Palo Altans, so much the better.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Posted by Family Friendly, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> As I've said before, though, a healthy community is built by long-term owners -- not short-term renters. If this encourages people to sell their homes to new Palo Altans, so much the better.

I'm not sure I understand your point, so, excuse me if I got it wrong. But, it *sounds* like ageism. Thanks, but, no thanks.


29 people like this
Posted by laura farabough
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 2:38 pm

I deeply appreciate the non-eviction mandate.
I have lived in my 1-bdrm apt in Palo Alto for 8 years
I am terrified of eviction. I am a 70 yr old gig-economy worker. I work as a dog walker and pet/house sitter to supplement my SS. My business has disappeared. Live in my car at this age?
Because of the generosity of my friends, I will be paying my rent in April and May.
June? Who knows.
My landlady, who is a kind person, has to care for both her parents who suffer from advanced dementia.
They live at home and refuse to move into a "memory care" assisted living facility.
She pays for a 2-person 24hr care program that depends on the income from her rental property.
What are either of us supposed to do?
I think rental owners should also be given some support if they meet certain criteria (i.e., they are not corporate
rental outfits).



Like this comment
Posted by Churb the Coal
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:55 pm

I like Palo Alto.


10 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 11:57 pm

What if a requirement of any sort of mortgage moratorium or forbearance also required this benefit to be passed down to renters too? In other words, if you're going to receive some sort of exemption for paying a mortgage on your rental property, then you should be required to do the same with your tenants?


5 people like this
Posted by 40YearsARenter
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:07 am

Long term renters also contribute to healthy community. I huddle. Will fork over my social security check and then some , but I’m gonna roll back rent, take it or leave it, to 2017 amount. Take it or leave it. Arbitrary increases devastated. “We shall not be moved...” Stand up for justice, not property owners’ cruises...!


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:04 am

Posted by 40YearsARenter, a resident of South of Midtown

>> Long term renters also contribute to healthy community. I huddle. Will fork over my social security check and then some , but I’m gonna roll back rent, take it or leave it, to 2017 amount. Take it or leave it. Arbitrary increases devastated. “We shall not be moved...” Stand up for justice, not property owners’ cruises...!

It is difficult to understand what you are really trying to say here, but, well, if you are talking about one of the ginormous management corporation -- well, do your thing. Don't be surprised if their lawyer is better than yours in court, though. OTOH, If you are talking about a "small" landlord who really needs that income to survive, then, I have a problem with your attitude. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in that case you are harming *yourself* morally as well as victimizing another person of limited means. We are all depending on each other's good behavior to survive this calamity. Don't create more casualties.


Like this comment
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 25, 2020 at 4:28 pm

>> The writing's been on the wall for quite some time about people who rent out their homes. If the rent control advocates don't get you, the "emergency measures" will.

That's why landlords have to charge high rent, before they're forced not to.

>> As I've said before, though, a healthy community is built by long-term owners -- not short-term renters. If this encourages people to sell their homes to new Palo Altans, so much the better.

That's why rents are higher. Fewer rental units means less supply. A decrease in supply with no decrease in demand means higher rental prices.

Can't speak for other landlords, but our tenants include two parties of high-tech workers, and a doctor. Silicon Valley is pretty much named after tech companies, and I'm pretty sure the doctor will be contributing to community pretty darn soon, perhaps to a family member of a Palo Alto home owner very soon.


Like this comment
Posted by 40YearsARenter
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Hello "C" and y'all:
Yenta the Renter here, "Can't speak for other landlords, but our tenants include two parties of high-tech workers, and a doctor. Silicon Valley is pretty much named after tech companies, and I'm pretty sure the doctor will be contributing to community pretty darn soon, perhaps to a family member of a Palo Alto home owner very soon."

*Doctors, tech-workers, all Chiefs, No Indians. Everybody contributes, now or later. Build Back Better, build some more affordable rentals, BMR studios, so the community can retain what (little) diversity it has - and Grandma can stay put, and hope that some of the kids some of the time will be able to fly and visit...or bike and visit.

Does that mean Palo Alto might one day look like Queens...? (Hmmm). I heard that once even Rome fell.


5 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2020 at 10:26 pm

I am a landlord and I never buy property that I can't afford to sustain on my own. If I buy it, then I'm responsible for it. Of course, rent helps me pay my mortgage, but it's my mortgage and I'm responsible for it, not my renter. I'm fine with the City's efforts to help our renters. Also, I rent to nice people whom I'm sure will pay me when they can, and I'm happy to give my tenants a break on the rent, as I don't need to make a profit during a pandemic. On the off chance that someone will not pay after 120 days or makes no effort to pay rent, then as a landlord, I have legal avenues that I can pursue, but most people are embarrassed to not pay rent and most people want to pay their bills. This shouldn't be a forum for renters vs landlords, or who is the victim, we are all in this together Palo Alto, please let's remember this!


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Posted by 40YearsARenter
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2020 at 10:21 am

Agreed, this shouldn't be about renters vs. landlords. Housing concerns everyone - and frankly, we'd all be a bit better if people in RVs didn't have to "Live" on Nelson Drive, in cars on San Antonio, access bathrooms at Cubberly...More (and reasonable) BMRs are needed, and better living wages for workers so they can pay "reasonable" rents. Oh, and don;t forget our seniors, not all of whom are able to add on an additional 3 feet to already lavish homes, the better to "Age in Place in Style" a la Carol Blizer's article glossy color in"Home & Garden Design" -- while their children cant live nearby and the grandkids can't afford to visit...and so, all in lavish homes (Yes, well, They WORKED, for those homes, didn't they? After all? They earned it, they own it...) (And they will shows us that they can take it with them, yes?!) "Aging in place" adding 3 feet while families live in RVs and cars on nearby streets...three feet? Soon 6 feet under...Expensive Tombs, I'd say. Yes agree, we are all in this together, so let's Build Housing for Workers, Renters, seniors...This forum shouldn;t be about renters vs. landlords any more than...Washington should be about GOP & Dems....Hmmm?


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 10, 2020 at 7:48 pm

My current lease, started in last May (2019) with 23% increase (plus $100 parking), is about to expire. I was asked to select an option between a 12-month lease with 8.3% increase and a month-to-month lease in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic. I really don't know how to make a decision during this declining economy. Is it any resources help to resolve this issue? Thanks!


5 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2020 at 3:13 pm

The city should also help out by deferring utility bills.


5 people like this
Posted by Rentedout
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2020 at 5:48 am

Be prepared for home values, whether you rent it out or not, to tank unless the businesses in PA opens up soon. No more foreign money moving in and paying cash, high tec businesses have seen their valuations shrink so no more cashing in on IPOs etc. And no one wants to pay overpriced rent to live next to a ghost downtown. See how this works when the Gov won’t even give us a date to reopen basic CA businesses? No end in sight, and just the CA government bureaucrats have job security and full pay.


6 people like this
Posted by Michelle
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:10 pm

I'm concerned about my father who relies on his rental properties to provide his income. It's his only income. And he has kept the rent under the norm for his tenants that have been with him for years. So this is a major blow to his income as well. He has property taxes on 3 properties and fees and repairs to make. Yet one tennant has not been paying rent for 3 months without documentation and his backs against the wall here. What are people whose only income are their rental property income supposed to do? Where's the break for them? There needs to be more to this, more balance.


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