Editorial Alert: Ojai City Council to Create Local Rental Increase Caps & Rental Owner Restrictions

Posted By: Janet Gagnon Industry News, Local News Alerts,


Date: Tuesday,
March 14, 2023
Time: 6:00 PM

Please click here to join the Ojai City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 14, at 6:00 PM and use Zoom's "Raise Hand" function to urge the Council to VOTE NO on Agenda Item 3. No pre-registration is required. Members of the public may also attend the meeting in-person to offer public comment or submit written public comment to cityclerk@ojai.ca.gov by 5:00 P.M. on the day of the meeting.



At the Ojai City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 14th, the Council will consider a draft ordinance for the creation of new and unnecessary local rent caps for multifamily properties in Ojai.  As the City well knows, state law already exists under Assembly Bill 1482 (AB1482) that limits all rent increases statewide for multifamily properties to 5% plus the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 10%, whichever is lower. 

In addition, AB1482 establishes statewide rental owner restrictions that prevent an owner from relocating renters without having an approved reason by the state to do so, including failure to pay rent, nuisance, illegal activities, and other violations of the lease (so called “At Fault” reasons).  Further, state law provides for other reasons such as the owner wanting to move into the property himself/herself (so called “No Fault” reasons), which would require the payment of one month’s worth of rent to be paid by the owner to the renter to assist them with relocation. The state law is a reasonable compromise achieved between all key stakeholders, including renter advocates, small mom-and-pop rental housing providers and corporate rental housing owners.  

Now out of nowhere and with no supporting facts, Mayor Stix wants to push through new, much lower rent caps onto the few multifamily properties owners that exist in Ojai that are providing rental housing to those unable or unwilling to purchase housing of their own.  There has been talk that this is the result of a personal friendship between Mayor Stix and a local attorney that is seeking additional business.  However, it is not the proper role of local government to create barriers for small business owners, such as Ojai’s rental housing providers, simply to provide work to their personal attorney friends. 

There is a “bare bones” website that has unsubstantiated claims alleging that lower rent caps are needed in Ojai, but there is absolutely zero data to support such statements from any housing authority or other reputable government source that should be informing any government actions that are being considered.  Even the Staff report utterly lacks any data showing rental rates in Ojai have substantially increased for multifamily properties. 

In fact, CoStar, a third-party aggregator of national rental housing data, shows no spikes in rent in Ojai during the last 5 years for the multifamily properties they track.  This is even more telling as Ojai’s existing multifamily properties are primarily from 1980 or earlier and likely in need of more significant repairs and maintenance than newer properties.  Thus, multifamily property owners in Ojai are obviously being very respectful and considerate of existing renters and it would be wrong for the Council to punish them with new regulations that are unnecessary and unjustified.  Such imposition will only make Ojai’s limited rental market even more difficult and drive more needed rental housing permanently out business and out of the area.

In fact, the only substantial relocation of renters occurring in Ojai is the result of single-family rental homes being sold due to the significant increase in housing values there.  Contrary to popular belief, AB1482, does apply to many single-family homes as well.  AB1482 covers all single family homes owned by corporations, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and limited liability companies with at least one corporate member as well as all Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).  It also covers single family homes owned by individuals where the owner has failed to provide proper written notice to renters in a timely manner.  Owners were required to provide written notice to existing renters by August 1, 2020, and for all new and renewed renters notice must be provided in their lease or as a separate written document signed by the renter using specific language stated in AB1482.

If the City of Ojai wants to help renters, then they should be providing education and outreach to renters and rental housing owners of all types (multifamily, single-family homes, ADUs, etc.) as to their rights and obligations under AB1482.  Since AB1482 is only now fully taking effect since the statewide and local eviction moratoriums are now ending, it is highly likely that many residents do not know about this law at all much less the various requirements contained in it.

If the City believes that more government intervention is necessary to help those renters being relocated due to the sale of single-family properties, then a new lower rent cap and owner restrictions for multifamily properties will do nothing to help such renters.  Instead, the City would need to look to creating an entirely different type of ordinance focused on single-family rental property owners that have provided proper written notice under AB1482 and therefore are not covered by it.  Whether such an ordinance would be legally allowed is something for the City Attorney to research and provide counsel.  The City of Los Angeles recently passed a similar ordinance and that one is currently being challenged by a lawsuit.

We urge all AAGLA members that live or own rental properties in the County of Ventura to call into the Ojai City Council meeting at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom and urge the Council to VOTE NO on the draft ordinance in its entirety and take no further steps on either new rent caps or additional owner restrictions, a/k/a tenant protections, for multifamily properties.