The Beverly Hills City Council, after a heated two-hour debate, approved an ordinance this week that will increase relocation fees for displaced renters.
"I got calls from both landlords and tenants who said the ordinance was terrible, so we must be OK," Councilman Maxwell Salter said at the Tuesday night council meeting.
Herm Schultz, president of the Committee for Tenants Rights, urged the council to support the higher relocation fees "because we want to make it as difficult as possible" for landlords to evict tenants and for property owners to demolish their buildings.
But several angry landlords attending the meeting contended that the old relocation fee scale was more than adequate. They argued that the increase in relocation fees was unreasonable because the existing rent control system meant that landlords were already subsidizing tenants.
The new law, which takes effect next month, increases existing relocation fees by $500. Beginning next month, tenants who have lived in their apartments for at least 2 1/2 years will be paid $2,000 if given notice to leave a bachelor apartment, $2,250 if the apartment is classified as a single, and $3,000 if the unit has one or more bedrooms.
Tenants who have lived in their apartments for at least a year but less than 2 1/2 years will get half that amount. Renters who have lived in their apartments for less than a year are not eligible.
The ordinance does not change the city's $5,000 relocation fee for senior citizens, disabled tenants and the terminally ill.
The new law also established a separate set of relocation fees for apartment buildings being demolished or converted to condominiums. Tenants evicted under these circumstances could receive up to $15,000, based on a formula that multiplies their monthly rent by the number of years that they have lived in the building.
Although rent control advocates supported the new relocation fee ordinance, they said the new scale is still not high enough. They said the city should do more for renters, who they said constitute about 60% of the city's population.
Mayor Allan Alexander called the fee increase reasonable, saying, "it will help more of those who need it than those who are able to get a windfall."
Property owners left the council meeting with one small victory, however. They managed to persuade the council to delay voting on a proposed ordinance that one landlord called "a sneaky way to force us to apartment registration."
The proposed ordinance would require landlords to supply the city with a list of tenants, their monthly rents and the dates they moved in. The ordinance has been proposed as a way of protecting renters in eviction disputes. The council said it will review the proposed law at its Feb. 19 meeting.