Rental committee considers tenant buyout rules

New rules would cover renters being paid to move out

Mountain View's Rental Housing Committee is investigating a new set of rules for landlords to "buy out" their tenants as a way to sever their leases. This new system would essentially allow apartment owners to pay renters to move out in order to quickly bring rent-controlled units up to market rate.

Most California cities with rent control protections also have some type of formal rules for buyouts, according to city staff. In most cases, these cities require that landlords notify tenants of their rights in advance and provide about a month for a tenant to reconsider moving out. Usually landlords are also required to submit documentation on any buyout deal to the city.

Anky van Deursen, who manages the city's rent control program, explained at a committee meeting Monday that her team saw the need for Mountain View to pass its own rules based on some projects to redevelop apartments dating back to around 2016. All the tenants at these properties apparently moved out, although it wasn't clear if the landlord had complied with the city's tenant relocation ordinance or if tenants were paid to leave.

Tenants would have to voluntarily agree to any buyout deal, and landlords would be prohibited from forcing renters to take money and move out.

The Rental Housing Committee members generally agreed that they should implement buyout rules, although they differed on the details. Newly appointed member Susyn Almond joined Emily Ramos in backing stricter buyout requirements, including city notification and a time window for tenants to rescind any deal.

The other three members favored a "lightweight" set of guidelines. Echoing his colleagues, committee member Julian Pardo de Zela said the city should require that landlords notify tenants of their rights, but nothing else. Requiring landlords to submit this buyout information to the city would be unfair because any negotiated deal would become public information, allowing other tenants to see what a landlord had offered, he warned.

"We already created this massive regulatory framework in Mountain View, and it's a lot already for people to work with," he said. "A lot of people are already grappling with the regulations we have, so we don't need anything more."

City staffers said they would return with a variety of different regulatory options at a future meeting.

In related news, the Rental Housing Committee voted unanimously to appoint Matthew Grunewald as the new chairman through 2020. Ramos was appointed vice chair for the same term.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


8 people like this
Posted by curious
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 2, 2019 at 5:42 pm

OK Here's the question
If you are controlling the rent on a building you are in control of a stock of housing.
If you allow the landlord to buy out a tenant then your housing stock goes down by one unit.
The landlord makes a profit presumably, the tenant makes a profit because he gets money just to get out, but you, the rent controller get nothing, actually a lot less than nothing.
Ok, you maybe not in "business", but you now have one less place for people to live. So to be fair, the tenant who sells a unit should pay something to the rent controller to compensate him for taking a profit from such a 'negative' act.

---when you comment, try to be an adult and think thru the issue rather than vomit up your political opinion - - - thanks!

34 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 2, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Howard is a registered user.

It looks like the city and the tenants already have taken ownership of the property and the Landlord is buying his property twice? How can this be legal in America?

13 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 2, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Howard is a registered user.

If a tenant takes a buyout then the tenant has capital gains or income. Which one and how is the tenant being taxed?

If the city is making this mandatory then the city needs to set up an escrow account on each buyout and should be liable to pay the taxes on money paid to the tenant.
How will the taxes get paid on this buyout?

6 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 3, 2019 at 10:51 am

Howard is a registered user.

O.K. I answered my own question,

The majority of rent control and rent subsidization rules apply only to individual income taxpayers who are using their leased property for personal use. The IRS does not allow these taxpayers to claim capital gains treatment on the lease buyout payment. Instead, the amount of the payment must be recognized as ordinary income in the year received.

Under current IRS rules, this income paid to tenant must be reported by the landlord in the year paid on a 1099-misc. form if the tenant buyout is $600 or more. There are penalties to the Landlord if he doesn't report the payment of income to the tenant and to the tenant for not disclosing this income to the IRS.

This is the law!

4 people like this
Posted by Vacancy decontrol already
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 3, 2019 at 1:22 pm

State law (not repealed this last November) prohibits local rent control that regulates the initial rent to a new tenant after a lawful vacation of the unit. It is sonetimes called mandatory "vacancy decontrol." Mountain View's rent control law (Measure V) has vacancy decontrol. In that context, deals to leave are legal. In my view, it would be best to make them semi-public so tenants can get a useful deal. So, if the monthly rent is $2,000 below the "market" in Mountain View, tenants might think in terms of the extra $24,000 per year that the landlord will be receiving from a new tenant who has money to burn (but not enough money to buy). Then again, if the landlords manage to get voters to REPEAL RENT CONTROL next year, tenants will not be getting buyouts at all. Most MV tenants will be history.

Like this comment
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2019 at 2:51 pm

Darin is a registered user.


Why does the rent controller need to "get" anything. The property owner and the tenant agreed to a mutually acceptable deal. They each got what they wanted. No one else needs to "get" anything.

4 people like this
Posted by More Curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 4, 2019 at 4:53 pm


The "rent controller" (by which I assume you mean the city) never has control that unit of housing stock, it just temporarily restricts how the landlord can utilize it, in order to protect the renter that is there. When a landlord "buys out" a tenant, the housing unit doesn't go away -- it continues to be in the housing stock but at a higher (presumably market) price. If the renter moves out for any other reason (e.g., geographical relocation for family reasons) the unit will also continue in the housing stock and will also revert to market price. Therefore, if the tenant moves (for any reason), the "stock of affordable housing" is reduced BUT the stock of *available* affordable housing is unchanged -- i.e., that apartment never is and never will be available as affordable housing stock to anyone other than the tenant who is currently there. The buy-out creates an opportunity for the landlord to bring the rent for the apartment up to market rate AND for the current tenant to get some profit out of it as well. With protections to reduce opportunities for exploitive behavior, it opens the door for a win-win solution.

4 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2019 at 8:18 pm

Howard is a registered user.

[Post removed due to violation of terms of use]

Like this comment
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 6, 2019 at 8:41 pm

[Post removed due to violation of terms of use]

Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:02 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

In respnse to Howard:

You pose a false premise:

You pose the neighbor isn’t paying for the use of the vehicle, like a teant paying for the use of an apartment.

The accurate position is this:

You bought a Mercedes for $120,000.

You leased it to your neighbor for $3,000./month on a month to month lease

You want the car back for some reason.

There is a cost to breaking a contract. Because the neighbor is entitled to the service of the vehicle because they paid for it. Your removal of the services without any opportunity for the neighbor to find an alternative is a surcharge for the break of the contract.

Does this make sense to you?

4 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Howard is a registered user.


Well the problem is that the city and the tenant already broke the contract prior to the landlord buying back his previous purchased property.

So, how can we have another contract if the city and renter don't acknowledge the first contract?

This is not only illegal under contract law but has created the mess your city lives with.

Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 7:33 am

The Business Man is a registered user.


The contract is not broken by any change in laws.

The contract is AMENDED by the laws.

You cannot enforce a contract that contradicts laws.

You are simply not aware that the City, County or State laws cannot break contracts.

All contracts must CONFORM to such laws. This is basic Contract law 101.


2 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 8, 2019 at 8:06 am

Howard is a registered user.

I think it's clear enough to see the injustice in rent control when someone has to "Buy back" their own property that they bought before.

Whether or not it's legal is not the issue. The issue is who is going to continue to do business in that kind of a business climate and what will this do to the cities rental market in 5, 10 years?

I guarantee you google ain't going to bail ya out and the government ain't going to bail ya out. Private money is what drives that market and when you slap it's hand, you slap the hand that feeds the market with investments in it.

Mountain View has a one way door for private money now, OUT!

Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 9:14 am

The Business Man is a registered user.


I already explained that oyur argument is not correct.

The fact is you WANT to CLAIM that the process is unfair by making a false analysis.

The people of Mountain View know that your description is simply not accurate.

You made an agreement and you are trying to break it in a apartment buy out.

That has a cost.

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

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

What Would it Take to Get Tech Companies to Move Jobs Out of the Region and Is This a Good Idea?
By Steve Levy | 18 comments | 1,361 views

A Power Play
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 1,219 views

Palo Alto's Taverna to expand next door
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 940 views

College Match
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 926 views

Premarital and Couples: Valentine's Day: Annually or Daily?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 824 views


Best of Mountain View ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Mountain View" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 19th issue of the Mountain View Voice.