Town Square

Post a New Topic

To help tenants, council advances new eviction protections

Original post made on Jun 6, 2023

Seeking to provide a measure of security to renters in city's famously expensive housing market, Palo Alto leaders agreed on Monday to expand eviction protections and to put a cap on security deposits.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 5, 2023, 11:28 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2023 at 7:25 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Thanks to Mayor Kou whose colleagues memo on renter protections a couple of years ago highlighted these issues and kicked off this work.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 6, 2023 at 9:02 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Tom DuBois, thanks for the much-needed historical perspective. Mayor Kou has always been on the side of renter protection dating back to the eviction of 88 middle-income tenants from The President Hotel while the so-called housing advocates were more than happy to side with the City and the hotel developer.

Too bad we the taxpayers are now stuck paying to replace those housing units the former city manager so happily eliminated.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2023 at 9:24 am

MyFeelz is a registered user.

"By limiting the amount of deposit that the landlord can charge, what a lot of landlords will do in effect is basically increase the rent, which I don't think is what we want. I think we want to make things more affordable, with lower rent," Tanaka said.

Security deposits aren't a gift, but most landlords treat them as such. It is only supposed to be used to repair damage or cleaning fee if the tenant doesn't do it. It's really not relative to the amount of the rent except for the "how much money can I steal from this tenant after booting him out so that I can jack up the rent" factor.

Don't be naive about the reasons a landlord wants to raise the rent. They do, simply because they can. And they want to keep pace with the going rate. A tenant who stays for 15 years -- THAT'S the reason for the statewide cap. Today's rental price, with a 10% increase, means a landlord can raise the rent 100% in ten years. That's a bad deal for everyone. Except the landlord. A 15 year tenant is also entitled to receive all of the interest accrued in the separate savings account the landlord is supposed to keep it in. But the tenant usually has to sue the landlord to get the deposit and the interest back.

What our CC is doing by putting all of the burdens on the tenant/landlord relationship, forces tenants to STILL have to go to small claims court to receive the ransom they paid years ago. That only works if the tenant stays in PA. If they move to Nantucket, it's almost impossible to file a small claims case. So, deposit theft is the norm, when it should be the exception.

Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 6, 2023 at 10:10 am

Joseph E. Davis is a registered user.

These are excellent initiatives if you want landlords to exit the market and sell their properties for home ownership. If you would like a healthy rental market, for example if you can't afford to buy a house, or you are only in the area temporarily, they are of course terribly destructive.

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2023 at 12:44 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Renters are nearly one half of Palo Alto’s residents. The data is needed. The changes have been considered for quite awhile. Hats off to Mayor Kou and council member Stone for leading this revision to the ordinance.

Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 6, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

Too bad the City Council didn't act on behalf of the residents at the President Hotel in support of their remaining in situ.

Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 6, 2023 at 10:55 pm

Jimmy is a registered user.

A tenant can now just give 30 days notice, and tell the landlord to take the last month out of their deposit. The landlord is now left with only half a month deposit. (Or no deposit, if a recent state bill passes.) Even if tenants aren’t allowed to do this, court takes too much time and money. Seems democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2023 at 3:09 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

I am privy to a single mom who with two small children had her deposit w a 30 days notice at a sub par tiny apartment on Alma, denied.. It was a less then compatible situation . She left in good standing even when the upper unit
leaked w overflowed toilet water, she was not given her deposit back. She did not fight it. Just moved to the next a $1500 loss later. This is the reality. The current city of PA does nothing. Because? Maybe the amount of dollars spent on consultant fees supersedes the real needs of its residents to actually take a returnecbdeposit to the next dwelling . And she will not fight for what she paid,,why? Because her children come first, even with a dollar loss. And our city does little for rental resident protections. Currently I am at Mayfield/Related . It took 12 months to lease up w Seque finalizing unit release. At first it was $600
Deposit. Then it was doubled to $1200. This may not seem a lotto SFHO yet when poor folks are told one thing and then informed something else, it begins a distrust. And so it goes.

Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2023 at 6:44 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

Homeowners didn't know this was on the agenda. That was why there was little opposition.
Sad to hear this was passed. Sounds like Greer Stone didn't take an economics course in his life. This is a path to ensure homeowners exit the rental market and housing becomes more limited.
Building housing on the backs of homeowners, instead of creating more housing is not the solution and Palo Alto city council should have known better than to do this.

When you create more housing, that gives renters options. By reducing security deposits, and not protecting homeowners, is not the path to creating up more rental housing, it's the path to reducing rental housing.

Congrats to Greer Stone for not seeing the big picture.

Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2023 at 2:48 pm

marc665 is a registered user.

How about starting a tenant registry?

To keep track of renters that pay late, bounce checks, trash places and vacate in the middle of the night, leave without paying rent, have pets when not allowed, sublet, run a airbnb, have too many roommates and all the other things that tenant's do.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 8, 2023 at 10:10 am

Joseph E. Davis is a registered user.

ADUs were proposed as a way to address housing supply, in part by allowing homeowners to rent out an ADU in the back yard.

Do you think there's a snowball's chance in Hell that a sane homeowner would rent out an ADU without iron clad assurances that an abusive tenant, or simply a tenant that you don't want any more for whatever reason, can be evicted?

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2023 at 3:39 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@marc665. How about a dwelling that is so cheaply put together that three years tenants are blamed paint peels Where interior doors made out of cardboard and fall off the hinges with broken closures. How greed got away with filling units with toxic materials of vinyl, plastic, fiberglass and petroleum. Even the light bulbs can't be swapped out, where there are ghost light switches, electrical outlets blow appliances and electric cords dry out and crack. Where water pools in stairwells and mail gets lifted from mail boxes and doorways, even when the exterior of the bldg [portion removed] is designed like a cage to keep residents in and visiting grandparents, out. How about no toddler play area or washers that break. 2017 Mayfield Place was designed to fail the poorest of people & resident families for the greed of Stanford Land-Related property profits. Stanford (Le) Land and it's leased up partner are crushing the souls, spirit, morale current working folk's potential to succeed. The area's "visionaries" were blinded by greed and it's swank Stanford Terrace. A bed of rocks was pushed on top of us . MP was supposed to raise the poor to a higher standard of living with integrated designed services and put the less fortunate on more equal footing. Yet. One side is an uncured tar parking lot the other is ECR all encompassed by the infinite mote of Co2 emissions. I don't expect to get any of my deposit with interest back @Myfeelz. Why? Because I just know that mulit-Billion dollar Related will justify faulty, broken dumpy materials use 100% cheap plastic& petroleum interiors as tenant's responsibility. And so the cycle of poverty for cooperate profits (and Stanford tax free profits) continue.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 9, 2023 at 4:06 pm

Resident is a registered user.

@Joe Davis, the renter protections don’t apply to ADUs.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2023 at 6:22 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I think the concern about abusive tenants are legit. This is another situation in which the few ruin things for the many. Lousy, greedy landlords contribute to the need for protections and lousy tenants cause potential landlords to decide to not rent. And so that bad history isn't repeated, let's not forget the absurd pro-development policies of past Councils that created the jobs:housing imbalance that spawned myriad thorny problems.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 12, 2023 at 6:55 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"let's not forget the absurd pro-development policies of past Councils that created the jobs:housing imbalance that spawned myriad thorny problems."

@Annette. what you said bears repeating. The same pro-development councils also supported underparked developments so their backers could make even bigger profits from higher density while singing their absurd songs about no one wanted cars so parking spaces weren't needed. They did everything in their [power to oppose any type of office cap or limitation on offices that would moderate the imbalance. They had US paying for residential parking permits when all those unwanted cars owned by new residents and all the commuters pushed into our neighborhoods.

They also wound up their supporters to scream about horrible homewoners and their Prop 13 rates while blatantly ignoring and/or deflecting any talk of the fact that commercial landlords ALSO benefit from Prop 13 while craising rents every year on properties they've owned LOTS longer than homeowners.

This we have all this acrimony, name-calling etc.

Posted by Nanette Grissom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2023 at 10:14 am

Nanette Grissom is a registered user.

Older Palo Alto landlords should consider offering 'lease-option' provisions to their long-term other words, partial credit for rent paid as a down payment on the dwelling.

Most of these older landlords have already seen their properties skyrocket in value and at their advanced ages, many of them don't need the money or have heirs to leave the properties to.

Another alternative would be to donate their residential rental properties to the local churches who in turn could initiate both low-cost housing opportunities and sanctuary for the homeless population in Palo Alto.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 13, 2023 at 11:15 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Seattle has enacted even more extensive "renter protections" over the past decade, with the opposite of the intended consequences. Lowering allowed security deposits and changes such as limiting late fees have increased risk, forcing individual and small-scale landlords to sell their properties to hedge funds and REITs. These corporate landlords have substantially increased rents, raised minimum credit scores and incomes needed to even be considered as renters, and demolished older, cheaper units in order to rebuild them as high-end, much more expensive units.

PA's "protections" seem to me to be just more virtue-signalling that in practice ends up making the lives of lower-income people more expensive and more difficult.

I welcome Nanette's thinking of creative ways that can enhance the quality of the housing opportunities available in our city.

Posted by C
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 1, 2023 at 5:12 am

C is a registered user.

> These corporate landlords have substantially increased rents, raised minimum credit scores and incomes needed to even be considered as renters

Corporate landlords also evict tenants at a higher rate than "mom and pop" landlords. As more "pro-tenant" laws make conducting business more difficult for the smaller "mom and pop" landlords, we will have a greater proportion of corporate landlords yet have fewer rentals on the market. CA's high rents no doubt shows that this is already the case.

Posted by No Longer A Landlord
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2023 at 7:56 am

No Longer A Landlord is a registered user.

"These are excellent initiatives if you want landlords to exit the market and sell their properties for home ownership."

Mr. Davis' comment is spot on. As a property manager who oversees several modest residential properties that my family has owned for decades, it is becoming increasingly difficult to accommodate the demands and expectations of renters seeking even more concessions and considerations.

Our only option now is to sell these properties to outside parties who are willing to commit themselves to a long-term mortgage and the dutiful responsibilities of home ownership.

As for the tenants, we will give them a generous 60 days to resituate and then file Unlawful Detainers against those unwilling to comply.

It is no longer worth the hassle of having to deal with overly demanding tenants and city interventions.

Posted by A Former PA Renter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2023 at 8:51 am

A Former PA Renter is a registered user.

As a former Palo Alto renter, it is encouraging to see some progress made in this direction.

I was evicted just prior to the COVID outbreak and have been living in my car for the past three years in and around various parts of Palo Alto. Since my vehicle is operational, the key is not to remain parked in one spot too long in order to avoid detection and/or resident complaints.

My former Palo Alto rental residency was owned and managed by a kindly older gentleman who only charged me $750.00 a month for a small 2 bedroom house that he had owned since the early 1950s.

When he passed away, his children opted to sell the property as part of their trust inheritance for $2.8M and I was shortly evicted.

Given the current value of Palo Alto homes, it is understandable that rents have skyrocketed and many such as myself, are now priced out of both rental and ownership opportunities.

The term 'affordable housing' is an abstraction because affordability varies among different individuals and so for the time being, I will remain being one of those mobile transients that some Palo Alto residents have come to despise. At 67 and with only $1000.00 per month in Social Security benefits, I have no other choice.

Fortunately I qualify for a modest SNAP stipend of $100.00 monthly, Medi-Cal subsidized Medicare Part B, and an Obamaphone. I am also grateful for an opportunity to visit the local food banks to supplement my grocery needs.

Most of the people living in Palo Alto including current homeowners and City Council members have absolutely no idea or clue how tough life can be on the outside as their seemingly petty concerns and perspectives speak volumes.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Worried about the cost of climate change? Here is some hope.
By Sherry Listgarten | 25 comments | 3,693 views

The Time and Cost Savings of Avoiding a Long Commute
By Steve Levy | 2 comments | 619 views


Sign-up now for 5K Run/Walk, 10k Run, Half Marathon

The 39th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 29. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually. Proceeds from the race go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.