The city appears poised to assemble a landlord/tenant ad hoc committee after the City Council and the Housing Authority outlined its framework and approved the model this week.
The committee, once formed, will have seven members — three tenants of rental housing, three rental property landlords and one ostensibly neutral party, such as a homeowner’s association representative — whose appointments will be vetted and recommended by the city. They’ll be scheduled to meet monthly for 12 months, with a $50 stipend per person per meeting. Early into the process, the city said it expects to deploy a facilitator to bridge the parties that, at times, can be adversarial.
The group will principally be tasked with assessing the efficacy of the city’s Rental Rights Program and recommending any potential changes to it or other housing policies in the Jewel City.
“I’d really like them to focus on issues specific to Glendale, our neighborhoods and our buildings — thinks like enforcement of [non] smoking in the buildings, enforcement of noise, enforcement of taking away garage parking spaces and renting them out to others, rent collection, abusive managers and obstinate renters,” Councilman Ara Najarian said during the joint City Council-Housing Authority meeting on Tuesday. “I really don’t want them to go digging up state and federal housing policy and try to discuss that with us. I think they’ll have their hands full with the local issues and some of the problems we face in Glendale.”
Najarian added that he does not want the committee to become a “proxy battleground” between renters and landlords, an already tense relationship that has been significantly strained by the coronavirus pandemic. All levels of government have imposed a variety of targeted eviction bans for the past 17 months, a policy that has largely kept unemployed renters in their apartments but has also left property owners, particularly the so-called “mom and pop” landlords, in a financial lurch. An ineffective rollout of federal rent relief funds has only exacerbated the situation.
In short, the eventual committee stands to benefit from a moderator, officials contended. More than 60% of Glendale’s residents rent their homes.
“I think it would be really important to have a facilitator in the beginning to build trust and set the tone,” Councilman Dan Brotman said.
Added Housing Authority member Robert Adjinian: “Once we get the gears going, we may not need a facilitator or moderator. It’s a great idea.”
Broadly, the Rental Rights Programs outlines safety valves for Glendale renters facing steep rent increases. Among other regulations, landlords are required to offer at least a year contract to existing tenants when raising the rent, and in the event a tenant faces more than a w7% increase and elects to move, the landlord must pay the tenant relocation assistance.
In addition to evaluating this program, the committee also may anticipate what state or federal regulations may do to impact rental units here and discuss a possible mediation system to handle disputes between renters and landlords.
The committee will not have policy-making authority, but as with other boards and commissions, is likely to influence any policy changes made by the council. After soliciting applicants, the city will evaluate and produce a “matrix” outlining their qualifications for the council to ultimately consider.
City officials will aim to appoint a variety of landlords and tenants — those mom-and-pop variants mixed with larger, corporate operations. While tenants will be required to live in Glendale, the city was less restrictive on where property owners live as long as they have a history of doing business in town.
“It should have someone who has had some significant experience in terms of providing housing,” Councilman Ardy Kassakhian said. “Ideally, it would be someone who lives in Glendale, but that, for me, is not necessarily a deal breaker, as long as they have units they do rent in Glendale.”
“I agree on a diversity of small and large landlords, primarily operating in Glendale, but I think there is some value in getting somebody who’s got experience in different locations,” Brotman added.