W. Hollywood Continues to Refine Rent Control Law : Council to Require Interest on Deposits

Times Staff Writer

The West Hollywood City Council, in the latest round of decisions on the city's rent control law, has voted to require landlords to change carpets and drapes every seven years and to pay interest on security deposits.

Last week the council asked that these concepts and others be written into the rent ordinance. The latest decisions provide for:

- Rental increases for utilities. Landlords will be allowed to raise rents 0.5% a year for each utility bill that they pay in addition to the annual general increase.

- Interest payments on tenants' deposits. Renters will receive 6% interest on deposits, payable every five years or at the end of tenancy.

- "Banking" of yearly increases by landlords. Apartment owners who decide not to charge a tenant the allowable increase in a given year will be able to carry the increase over to subsequent years. If rents are allowed to rise 5% each year for three years, for example, a landlord could wait and raise rents 15% in the third year.

- A May 1, 1984, base date to calculate future rents. Rents were rolled back to the Aug. 6 level when the council took office in November. Rolling the base rent back three more months will provide relief to tenants who received increases in May, June and July, the council majority said. John Heilman, Helen Albert and Stephen Schulte voted for the proposal, Alan Viterbi voted against and Mayor Valerie Terrigno abstained.

The council also set standards for maintenance, although it did not decide whether to include them in the rent law or in the building and safety code. Apartments will have to be painted every four years and drapes and carpets installed every seven years, the council said. Tenants will be allowed to waive the requirements if the work is not necessary.

Methods for enforcing maintenance requirements have not been determined.

In other votes, Terrigno received no support for a luxury apartment exemption. Terrigno wanted to designate one-bedroom apartments that cost $1,000 or more a month as luxury units, with the price of luxury two- and three-bedroom apartments to be determined later. Landlords would have been allowed to raise the rent as much as they wanted when a luxury unit was vacated, according to the Terrigno proposal. When the apartments were occupied, Terrigno said, they would be subject to the rent control law.

The council also voted against exempting duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes from the ordinance. And it said that until next year landlords will not be able to raise rents to recover the costs of capital improvements. The council will reconsider such charges after a January report from the city staff.

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