Renter Protection Policy Development


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Background

To support, protect and help stabilize tenants in Palo Alto, staff have been researching policies and programs to propose to the City Council. In 2017, a Colleagues’ Memorandum highlighted the importance of protecting renters and continuing to create renter protection policies that help keep people housed. The subsequent eviction of many tenants when a downtown building converted to a hotel further heightened the need for renter protections and led to Council action. Subsequent discussions and Colleagues' Memorandum followed in 2018, emphasizing Council’s desire to work on the issues of housing affordability through renter protections. 

To support the pursuit of renter protection policies and respond to the memoranda, the City applied for and was awarded a “Challenge Grant” from the Partnership for the Bay’s Future. Through the Challenge Grant, the City was able to create a profile of Palo Alto renters and research renter protection policies that would benefit Palo Altans.

Palo Alto had significant renter protection policy discussions in 2020 and 2021. These discussions culminated in City Council action on November 29, 2021 for staff to advance a suite of additional renter protection policies. These policies would be additional to those that were already in the Palo Alto Municipal Code (PAMC) for many years, such as the rental housing stabilization policies in PAMC Section 9.68 and the mandatory landlord/tenant dispute requirements in PAMC Section 9.72.

Current Activities

City staff is currently working on the renter protection policies moved and approved by City Council on November 29, 2021.

Request for Information - Renter and Landlord Survey - Fall/Winter 2022

The City is asking for participation in a short survey for renters and landlords/property managers in Palo Alto. We anticipate that the survey will take you 5 minutes or less to complete. Your responses will help City staff respond to City Council-requested renter policy development initiatives discussed on this webpage. Please click the button below to access the City of Palo Alto Renter and Landlord Survey for Fall/Winter 2022. 

Take the Survey  

Upcoming Public Meetings and Events

Policy & Services Committee Meeting - Rental Registry Program (RRP)
Next Meeting: Anticipated Fall 2022

Past Renter Protection Related Public Meetings and Events

City Council Agendas and Minutes

Date Agenda and Packet Minutes Video
February 14, 2022
Consent Calendar Item: Adoption of Regular Ordinance Amending Tenant Relocation Assistance for No-Fault Evictions by Reducing the Threshold for Applicability from 50 Units to 10 Units or a Lower Threshold (Council Action-2nd Reading)
Agenda Packet  Minutes  Video
January 31, 2022
Action Item: Adoption of Emergency Ordinance and Regular Ordinance Amending Tenant Relocation Assistance for No-Fault Evictions by Reducing the Threshold for Applicability from 50 Units to 10 Units or a Lower Threshold (Council Discussion and Action)
Agenda Packet  Minutes  Video
November 29, 2021
Action Item: Review and Recommend Renter Protection Policies for Development and Implementation (Council Discussion and Action)
 Agenda Packet  Minutes Video 
November 15, 2021
Review and Recommend Renter Protection Policies for Development and Implementation (Council Discussion and Item Continued to November 29, 2021)

Agenda Packet Minutes  Video

November 8, 2021
Action Item: Review and Recommend Renter Protection Policies for Development and Implementation (Council Discussion and Item Continued to November 15, 2021)

Revised Agenda Packet Minutes Video

Policy & Services Committee Agendas and Minutes

Date Agenda and Packet Minutes Video
September 13, 2022
Action Item: Rental Survey Program Overview for Feedback 
Agenda and Packet  Minutes Video

Planning and Transportation Commission Agendas and Minutes

Date Agenda and Packet Minutes Video
January 26, 2022
Recommendation on Ordinance Amending Tenant Relocation Assistance for No-Fault Evictions to Apply to Structures or Lots Containing 10 or More Units, Instead of 50 or More Units 
Agenda and Packet  Minutes Video

April 28, 2021
Continuation of Policy Recommendation Discussion

Agenda and Packet(PDF, 174KB) Minutes(PDF, 955KB) Video
April 14, 2021
Action Item: Renter Protection Policy Recommendations

Agenda and Packet(PDF, 116KB) Minutes(PDF, 859KB) Video
September 30, 2020
Study Session on Palo Alto Renter Demographics
Agenda and Packet Minutes Video


Human Relations Commission Agendas and Minutes
Date Agenda and Packet Minutes Video
September 23, 2021
Continuation of Policy Recommendation Discussion
Agenda and Packet  Minutes Video
August 12, 2021
Action Item: Renter Protection Policy Recommendations
Agenda and Packet Minutes Video
February 11, 2021
Presentation on Palo Alto Renter Demographics
Agenda and Packet Minutes Video


Tenant Relocation Assistance Municipal Code Update

Background

At its November 29, 2021 meeting, City Council moved for staff to prepare a Palo Alto Municipal Code (PAMC) ordinance amendment to extend existing tenant relocation assistance for no fault evictions to more properties in Palo Alto, including properties with 10 rental units or more. Staff brought the draft ordinance amendment to the Planning & Transportation Commission on January 26, 2020. Staff then returned to City Council on January 31, 2022 and February 14, 2022 for a first and second reading of the ordinance amendment, respectively. Tenant relocation assistance for no fault evictions for properties with 10 rental units or more came into effect immediately on January 31, 2022 through Emergency Ordinance No. 5543(PDF, 529KB). Tenant relocation assistance remains in effect through Ordinance No. 5544(PDF, 533KB) and is codified in PAMC Section 9.68.035.

Current Tenant Relocation Assistance Amounts

The amount of tenant relocation assistance for no fault evictions is adjusted July 1 of each year. Amounts also range by the number of bedrooms in a rental unit. An additional amount is applicable if a rental unit is occupied by a low-income household, someone who is 60 years of age or older, someone who is disabled, and/or someone that is a minor. When established in 2018, the lowest amount of tenant relocation assistance was $7,000 for a 0 bedroom/studio rental unit and the amount for a 3 or more bedroom rental unit was $17,000. The assistance amounts have increased in subsequent years.

The Tenant Relocation Assistance Calculations sheet(PDF, 151KB) contains the current tenant relocation assistance amounts that are applicable before and after July 1, 2022 .     

FAQs

Who are Palo Alto Renters?

  • 46% of Palo Alto's housing stock is occupied by renters. That's a big percentage of Palo Alto!

What are Renter Protections?

  • "Renter protections" refers to renters being protected from losing their homes due to eviction. To read more about them, check out this interesting guide that the state of California produced entitled Tenant Protection Guidelines.

What resources currently exist for renters?

Why is protecting renters important?

  • Renters occupy half of the housing in Palo Alto! Also, evictions are one of the leading causes of poverty and homelessness. If we create rules for when a household can be evicted, we help vulnerable people.

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