Strongest tenant protections in decades begin Jan. 1, 2020

Written by on 01/17/2020

Venus Zuhura Noble, a social worker with Alameda County, speaks about her many clients that cannot afford to live in in the city they work in because of housing costs at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, April 23, 2018. Supporters of a California ballot initiative to lift statewide restrictions on rent control stage rallies in Oakland, Sacramento and Los Angeles as part of an effort to repeal the state’s Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Sponsors of the Tenant Protection Act launch TenantProtections.org to help tenants learn their new rights and how to defend them

by Amy Schur, ACCE Campaign Director

On Jan. 1, 2020, ACCE Action, TechEquity
Collaborative, Code for San Francisco and Community Legal Services in East Palo
Alto launched an early (beta) version of tenantprotections.org. The new site will help the 17
million Californians who rent learn about and defend their rights under the new
law taking effect New Year’s Day.

Tenantprotections.org
is designed to serve as a self-help resource for tenants. The site includes an
eligibility test where tenants can enter basic information about their
residence and tenancy to determine if they are covered by the law, and, if so,
what their rights are. The site also helps tenants defend their rights by
providing a downloadable letter to send to their landlord informing them of
their rights and provides connections to legal aid services and tenant
organizations. The site is still under construction, but basic functionality in
both English and Spanish is now available to tenants, with additional
improvements to launch in the coming weeks.

After decades of tenant organizing, the Tenant
Protection Act of 2019 provides historic, sweeping protections for tenants who
were previously vulnerable to excessively high rent increases and unjust
evictions. A broad coalition of over 150 community groups, tenant organizers
and legal aid groups came together under the Keep Families Home coalition to
ensure the bill’s passage through the legislature in 2019. Sponsors of the
legislation included ACCE Action, Public Advocates, PICO California,
PolicyLink, TechEquity Collaborative, and the Western Center on Law and
Poverty.

The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482)
caps annual rent increases in California to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus
5 percent. CPI varies by metro area, but it averages roughly 2.5 percent in
California. Thus, under the cap of CPI plus five percent in AB 1482, the cap on
annual rent increases varies by region, but tends to be within the range of 7-8
percent.

Rent increases cannot exceed 10 percent under
the bill. Furthermore, the new law provides covered tenants with just cause for
eviction protections, preventing landlords from issuing arbitrary and
retaliatory evictions.

Under the Tenant Protection Act of 2019,
roughly 8 million California tenants are eligible for just cause and anti-rent
gouging protections. However, tenants will need assistance in navigating and
defending these new rights. That’s why sponsors of the Tenant Protection Act of
2019 (AB 1482) TechEquity Collaborative and ACCE Action in partnership with
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto and volunteers at Code for San
Francisco have developed tenantprotections.org.

The tenantprotections.org project is a unique collaboration
between technologists and non-profit advocacy organizations. The site was built
by a volunteer team of engineers from Code for America in San Francisco through
their Brigade projects, which allow technologists to build projects that serve
their communities. Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLESPA), a legal
aid organization serving tenants, and ACCE Action, a co-sponsor of AB1482 and
tenant advocacy organization, provided expertise to ensure the site was
accurate and best serves tenants.

TechEquity Collaborative, another co-sponsor
of AB 1482, served as product manager for the site, coordinating efforts
between coder-volunteers and tenant-serving stakeholders. TechEquity mobilizes
tech workers to build a more equitable tech-driven economy, by building a
bridge between tech and the community through volunteerism, advocacy, and
projects like tenantprotections.org.

Source: San Francisco Bay View


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