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Burbank council slated to consider drafting urgency ordinance to protect renters

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The Burbank City Council is scheduled to discuss whether an urgency ordinance should be drafted to help renters who are being evicted before a new state law goes into effect on Jan. 1.
(File Photo / Los Angeles Times)

Renters and tenant-rights advocates are urging the Burbank City Council to pass a no-fault eviction urgency ordinance that would temporarily protect those who are being evicted before new state legislation goes into effect.

Council members are expected to discuss whether they should draft such an ordinance after several local residents received eviction notices after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1482 into law on Oct. 8.

The measure allows for just-cause evictions and caps annual rent increases for properties that meet certain criteria, but the state law does not go into effect until Jan. 1.

Under AB 1482, landlords will not be able to evict tenants without cause if they have resided in their unit for at least 12 months, according to a city staff report.

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Landlords would instead have two options for evictions: at-fault or no-fault causes.

Examples of an at-fault eviction include a tenant not paying rent on time or breaking a clause in their rental agreement. However, the new state law requires that landlords give their tenants an opportunity to resolve their issue.

Landlords would still be able to evict tenants on a no-fault basis, but the landlord would be required to pay a relocation fee for each affected tenant.

The new state law, however, will not apply to apartment buildings built within the past 15 years or single-family home rentals, unless they are owned by a corporation or an investment trust.

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Increasing numbers of Burbank renters have received eviction notices this month.

Konstantine Anthony, chairman of a community group called the Burbank Tenants’ Rights Committee, said this may be due the actions of landlord attorney Dennis Block, who in recent weeks has been urging landlords to quickly evict their tenants before the new law takes effect.

“Unfortunately, his scare tactics got a lot of landlords in Burbank as well as across Southern California and most of the state worried, and that’s what’s happening,” Anthony said.

“We saw a number of buildings have every single tenant evicted and, so what we’re trying to get across to the City Council is that we’re asking them to fix a problem with this state bill,” he added.

While neighboring cities such as Glendale and Los Angeles have either had similar no-fault eviction protections on their books for a while or were just recently approved, Anthony said Burbank has no such regulations to protect its renters.

In order to help those who are being affected by the evictions, Anthony said Burbank needs to quickly pass its own no-fault eviction urgency ordinance until AB 1482 is active.

According to a city staff report, if the City Council chooses to move forward with an ordinance, the item would come back during its meeting on Nov. 5 and would require the approval of at least four of five council members to be adopted that night.

Anthony said an ordinance would help those who received 60-day no-fault eviction notices as far back as Sept. 4.

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An ordinance would likely be too late to help Giselle Martinez, who has been living in a nine-unit apartment complex in the 600 block of North Whitnal Highway.

She and her neighbors received 60-day notices on Oct. 9 from their new property manager a day after they received a separate notice letting renters know that ownership of the apartment building had switched hands.

Martinez, a single parent who has lived in the apartment for six years with her 9-year-old son, said she had heard rumors the property was being sold several months ago but remained hopeful nothing major would happen with a change of ownership.

That optimism changed when she received her eviction notice.

“I was shook,” Martinez said. “It’s like being told you have cancer. You have no resolve. You don’t know how to fix it or make it better.”

After receiving her 60-day notice, Martinez said she stayed up at night looking for a new apartment where she and her son could move.

Martinez said she started stressing about how she could afford to move on such short notice and how she could afford to find a new home.

She was able to find another apartment, but she had to borrow money from her son’s godfather and take multiple sick days to get her belongings packed and moved by the end of this month.

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“This has been really hard for me because I feel like I’m being peer-pressured,” Martinez said. “It’s the ugly side of capitalism.”

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