Newly Activated Law Lets Berkeley Landlords Help North Bay Fire Victims Through Reduced Rents
Office of Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Rent Stabilization Board
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2017
Contact: Jay Kelekian, Executive Director of Rent Stabilization Board
(Berkeley, CA) – Landlords in Berkeley now have an easy, yet powerful way to help people displaced by the recent North Bay fires, thanks to a law that allows them to rent out units to victims at below market rate prices without locking them into to lengthy contracts. Last week, the city’s Rent Stabilization Board activated an existing regulation that allows landlords to offer below market rate housing to those displaced by national disasters, such as the recent fires that killed more than 40 people and destroyed more than 20,000 homes in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.
“In the aftermath of the fire, we were contacted by several landlords asking what they could do,” said Jay Kelekian, executive director of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board. “This enables an act of generosity to the extent the owner is willing and able. We want to reward and encourage people who want to help others.”
Regulation 1017, as the law is called, allows landlords to temporarily rent out units at lower rates for a pre-agreed amount of time. The temporary period of discounted rent may be extended by mutual agreement at any time. After the period expires, landlords are able to raise the rent as allowed under state law.
The law was initially passed in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and can be invoked to help refugees and disaster victims temporarily settle in Berkeley. Since then, it has been used by landlords to fill vacancies and to help people in need find below-market housing.
“Berkeley property owners welcome the opportunity to help victims displaced by natural disasters,” said Berkeley property owner Charles Hawkins. “We should all lend a hand if we have units available.”
“So many people want to help, but may not know how,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin. “This allows property owners with vacancies to assist disaster victims with a vital need. I encourage all landlords who have space to take advantage of this law to help our neighbors to the north.”
The city of Berkeley has assisted North Bay residents affected by the devastating fires by sending fire crews and police officers to the region, as well as city planners to help assess damage in urban areas. Berkeley Humane has also helped in the efforts, taking in pets displaced by the fires.
The Rent Board has drafted sample lease language which owners and displaced tenants can use. Interested landlords should call the Rent Board or visit www.cityofberkeley.info/rent for more information.