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.