REDWOOD CITY (KPIX) — A group of Redwood City renters held a rally outside city hall Monday night urging city leaders to put a freeze on rent increases and just cause evictions before taking a closer look at new renter protection laws passed last year.
They claim the ordinances are failing to protect them.
“We’re being economically evicted,” said renter Stasha Powell.
She is among several tenants at the Duane Street Apartments who claim their new property owner has offered one year leases under the new ordinance, but with increases as much as 250 percent.
Devin Davis, who has lived at the apartments for a year, said he got a lease offer that increased his rent from $1,500 to $2,500 for a month-to-month lease or $2,300 for a one-year stay.
“If the landlord gave them eviction notices they would have to pay the relocation assistance, but instead they gave them massive displacement rent increases,” said the tenants’ attorney Daniel Saver.
Saver said the property owner is using loopholes in the new renter protection ordinances to avoid paying relocation fees by increasing rents instead of sending out eviction notices.
Now he’s sounding the alarm for every renter in Redwood City.
“They’re so fraught with loopholes that they are going to be many landlords who are going to be able to force out their tenants without paying them anything,” Saver said.
But in a statement, property management Homewood Ventures, pointed the finger at the city’s new renter protection ordinance. They said they would’ve held off on rent increases, but the ordinance forced them to offer one year leases in January. The property management explained that the rent increases were necessary because of high property taxes and the need for the older buildings to undergo repairs.
But Powell and Davis believe their new property owner wants to push them out so they can renovate the buildings and rent the units at a higher cost. The renovations, they said, began last year.
“Some of us could potentially end up living in our vehicles,” said Powell. “So it’s a dire situation.”
Davis said if he is forced to move out, he may consider leaving California to go somewhere more affordable despite the fact that he grew up in Redwood City.
“I’m living day to day just hoping I make enough money to be able to pay all my bills, to be able to pay my rent, to be able to feed myself,” he said.
KPIX 5 reached out to the mayor Monday night, but is still waiting to hear back from him.