Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tenants Rally for New Renters’ Rights in San Jose

Over Half of All Renters are “Rent Burdened”

In anticipation of the City Council’s scheduled vote on expanded Renters’ Rights protections in April, Sacred Heart Community Service is hosting a Legal Clinic and General Renters’ Meeting to educate tenants about their existing rights and rally support for the new rights under consideration.

Currently over half of all renters in San Jose are rent burdened.  In our very tight rental market, rents for two bedroom apartments are now over $2,500 on average, and tenants live under the real fear that if they lose their apartments they will not be able to find comparably priced alternatives. Under current regulations landlords of rent controlled apartments can raise rents by up to 8% per year, and can evict tenants using a no-fault 30 or 60 day notice.

“In this environment many tenants find themselves in poorly maintained buildings with numerous code violations and yet are fearful of filing complaints or unaware of their rights under the existing laws,” explains Mathew Reed, a housing organizer at Sacred Heart.

The legal clinic portion of the Sacred Heart event will be hosted in partnership with the statewide tenants’ rights group Tenants Together, and will include volunteer attorneys from Perkins Coie LLP. The firm has participated in a training program to offer legal consultation and possible litigation support for tenants with significant habitability issues in their apartments.  Sacred Heart staff will be assisting the lawyers as translators.

City Council has acknowledged that we are in a housing crisis and are exploring ways to put an end to run away rent increases and threats of eviction.  The Renters' Rights campaign includes calls to lower the cap on allowable rent increases, and additional eviction protections. The city council has been considering these measures since last May, and is expected to vote on a final policy change sometime in April.

What:  Renters’ General Meeting and Legal Clinic.
Who: Tenant leaders and Sacred Heart staff and attorneys from Tenants Together and Perkins Coie LLP
When: Thursday February 25th, Legal Clinic begins at 6:00 and runs to 8:00. Meeting begins at 6:30 and runs to 8:00.
Where: Sacred Heart Community Service
1381 S. First Street, San Jose
Why: Tenants will learn about proposed expansions of renters’ rights and lawyers will assist them with concerns about habitability and retaliatory evictions under current laws.

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