Landlords Can’t Evade Rent Control

A California appeals court rejected a Berkeley landlord’s “transparent attempt to circumvent the provisions of local rent control.”

After the landlords, Jason and Karen Mak, gave a 28-year-long tenant a 60-day eviction notice in 2012 in order to move into the unit themselves, they instead rented it for twice what the rent-controlled tenant had paid.

The First District Court of Appeals last week upheld the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board ruling that limits the rent on one of four units in a city complex would be held to what the prior tenant had been charged.

The prior tenant, Elizabeth Burns, had lived there for 28 years, paying roughly $1,078 a month.  After receiving the Mak’s 60-day notice she agreed in writing to vacate in exchange for paying no rent for two months and receiving a cash payment.

The Mak’s had send they planned to live in the rent controlled unit, one of the grounds for eviction from rent-controlled housing.

But they never moved in and in March 2013, they rented the unit to Alexander and Andrea Ziem for $2,400 per month.  The Ziem’s went to the Berkeley rent board to ask that their rent be limited to $1,078 that Burns had been paying.

The appeals court upheld the rent board’s limit on the Ziem’s rent saying the city rule was a reasonable regulation of evictions to “create an administrative deterrent to discourage landlords from serving less than good faith owner move-in notices.”

Case: Mak v. City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, No. A143671


One comment

  1. Here in the UK, there are growing calls to introduce rent controls because the cost of renting a property in London is becoming increasingly unaffordable. However, letting agent reports that this will actually restrict the number of homes available for rent because if landlords are not able to charge tenants a fee that gives them a profit, they will find alternative investment vehicles and many thousands of homes will be left to rot and be uninhabitable.


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