My neighbors next door were all forced to move out last year. They had all felt secure that they were protected by rent control, but found out the hard way that there are holes in the law, big enough to drive a U-Haul through.

The century old building was sold, which should not have affected the tenants, except that it was sold as condos, to a single buyer, who then used a loophole to exempt each unit, as if it were individually owned. The new owner offered 5 thousand dollars to tenants that voluntarily moved, about a month’s rent at market rate for the spacious two bedroom units. Those who tried to remain were given rent increases nearly double market rate, or several times what they were paying.  According to the City’s rent control office, this was all legal.

While I respect the rights of ownership, and believe that landlords should be able to generate a reasonable return on their investment, as well as be encouraged to maintain their property, we are talking about peoples homes, and being forced to move out, when you are a good tenant, doesn’t seem right.

I think its time we update our rent control laws. The cut off of 1979 seems arbitrary now, and the disparity between buildings with and without, far too great. We are losing good neighbors and vital businesses, making it less desirable to live here. The City is trying to pick up the slack, by subsidizing tenants and businesses, but that often can lead to rent “shakedowns”draining the City’s coffers and putting other tenants in jeopardy.

The solution is to create fair rent control laws, eliminate loopholes, and not allow unscrupulous speculators to wreck havoc on our communities.

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