HomeCity NewsGlendale City Council Sets ‘Renoviction’ Restrictions

Glendale City Council Sets ‘Renoviction’ Restrictions

City Council voted 4-1 to amend Glendale’s Rental Rights Program, adding additional relocation protections for certain classes of tenants, placing stricter restrictions on landlords’ abilities to impose renovation evictions and clarifying relocation compensation exemptions for small landlords on Feb. 6.
These changes to the city’s rental ordinance take into consideration recommendations set forth by the city’s Landlord/Tenant Ad-Hoc Committee, which comprised tenants and landlords who met on a monthly basis from March 2022 to September 2023 to review landlord and tenant rental housing matters.
One significant change to the Rental Rights Program involved placing tighter restrictions on landlords’ ability to evict tenants based on renovations. This kind of eviction, often nicknamed a “renoviction,” can now only take place in the event of a “substantial remodel.” To qualify as a substantial remodel, the remodel must cost more than eight times the greater amount of the monthly rent or the fair market rent of a unit of similar size in Los Angeles County. The work must also make the unit uninhabitable for at least 45 days.
Lucy Varpetian, principal assistant city attorney, identified this as “the most significant change” in the city’s ordinance.
“The definition of a ‘substantial remodel’ was introduced and incorporated to make sure that the remodel was truly driven by things that would require permits from Building and Safety, such as plumbing, mechanical systems, abatement of mold or asbestos, and not cosmetic changes, such as flooring or changing countertops and things of that nature,” Varpetian told the News-Press.
The ordinance also states that the remodel work “cannot be reasonably accomplished in a safe manner with the tenant in place.”
Mayor Dan Brotman emphasized that the goal of this provision is to “discourage people from renovicting their tenants” and to encourage landlords to find ways to do repairs without displacing tenants.
“I believe that in the vast majority of cases, there is a way to keep the tenant in place. Most of the renovictions are not about doing the renovation,” Brotman said. “They’re about a building that gets flipped and [the new owner] wants to get rid of the tenants so they can bring it up to market and rent it out. It’s not about the repairs.”
The city also increased the amount of relocation assistance tenants receive if they are met with a no-fault eviction, meaning the tenants did not violate their leases in any way. Relocation assistance is intended to supplement potential increased rent at a new building, first month’s rent, security deposit fees and moving costs.
Previously the city required landlords to pay their tenants double the market rate price of the unit plus $1,000. The new ordinance states that for a no-fault eviction, the landlord must pay a fee of three times the greater of the amount of the current rent or the fair market rent of a similar unit in Los Angeles County plus $2,000.
The city also specified that landlords who own buildings with four units or less or single-family homes are exempt from providing this relocation assistance, specifically when it comes to renovation evictions.
Councilman Ara Najarian originally wanted the number of units for this exemption to be higher, suggesting nine units or less at a Jan. 30 Council meeting, to protect small landlords from paying these fees. The Council originally introduced the ordinance with this nine-unit exemption, however, at the Feb. 6 meeting, Brotman and Councilwoman Paula Devine both pushed for this number to go down to four — which Najarian eventually agreed to.
“These renovations are to keep the housing stock clean, safe and efficient,” Najarian said. “There’s a lot that goes into that and I think we have to encourage an upgrade and freshening of our housing stock because when we don’t, we hear complaints.”
A few public commenters, such as Greg Astorian who is a member of the Glendale Association of Realtors, asked Council to approve the ordinance as originally introduced with the nine unit or below relocation exemption.
The previous rule for this exemption was for landlords who rented out duplexes or single-family homes. During staff comments at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Brotman said he did not realize that the ordinance Council had approved the previous week was creating less relocation protection for tenants than were previously in place, because now, triplexes and quadplex are exempt from relocation compensation. He wants to revisit this aspect of the ordinance at the next Council meeting.
Shant Norhadian, who said he works for a family-owned housing provider in the city, asked the Council during public comment to consider waving relocation fees for no-fault evictions that are triggered from compliance with a government order.
“If a landlord is required to comply with a government’s order, it is likely that the landlord is already going to incur a substantial amount of compliance costs and to have to pay relocation fees as proposed in the ordinance on top of that would create an undue hardship for the landlord,” Norhadian said.
Another major addition to the city’s Rental Rights Program is the concept of a “qualified tenant,” meaning a tenant who is low or very low-income, 70 years or older, disabled or handicapped, or if the rental unit is the primary residence of a student enrolled in Glendale Unified School District. In the event that an eviction triggers relocation assistance for a tenant, that payment is doubled for anyone who is a qualified tenant or has a qualified tenant living in their rental unit.
Aside from no-fault evictions, tenants also receive relocation assistance if they choose to terminate their lease due to a rent increase of more than 7%. With the exemption of duplexes and single-family homes, landlords must pay tenants three times the amount of the increased rent. For a qualified tenant, this would mean six times the increased rent.
In the original Rental Rights Program, if a tenant was evicted illegally, they could bring legal action to the landlord; however, it would be up to the tenant to demonstrate to a court the damages they believe they are entitled to. The new ordinance, however, quantifies these damages saying “the landlord shall be liable to any tenant who was displaced from the property for three times the amount of actual damages, exemplary damages, equitable relief and attorneys’ fees.”
Public commenter Grace Brands expressed her frustration with the previous enforcement of the Rental Rights Program — calling it “well-intended but toothless” — and urged Council to strictly enforce the new provisions relating to illegal evictions.
Renters at the Feb. 6 Council meeting emphasized that despite the new changes to the Rental Rights Program, their needs are still not being met.
Pamela Agustin-Anguiano, an L.A. County rent stabilization commissioner and an organizer for Stay Housed L.A., spoke during public comment about the right to counsel and relocation exemptions. She said that countywide, “71,000 evictions were filed and only 5,000 of those evictions had legal representation” this year.
Councilman Ardy Kassakhian also emphasized his desire for the Rental Rights Program to provide legal assistance for tenants. Kassakhian voted against the ordinance as it was introduced, calling for more renters’ protections such as the right to return to their units after renovations. He also said he wants a permanent Landlord/Tenant Ad-Hoc Committee to keep an eye on housing issues in the city and to further assist the Council in policy decisions.
Agustin-Anguiano also advocated for “strong relocation assistance, just cause protections and a rent stabilization ordinance,” in addition to the right to counsel.
“We need all of this and we cannot wait for it,” she said. “If you really want to keep your community whole, we wouldn’t even be discussing carving out any protections. A tenant is a tenant … these protections should not be conditional. They should be applied to all residents.”
Brotman and Councilwoman Elen Asatryan both acknowledged that they also want to explore options for implementing stronger protections for renters and finding solutions that work for both tenants and landlords. They both said the ordinance is something they are approving “for now” so that the renoviction restrictions will go in place as soon as possible, but that the conversation is not over.

First published in the February 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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