City of San Jose passes rent freeze to aid tenants during COVID-19 quarantine

The new ordinance is the latest measure the city has put in place to help tenants during the lockdown

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Nhu Dang, Times Staff

The city of San Jose is freezing rent on apartments and mobile homes in an effort to relieve residents impacted by the coronavirus.

The temporary ordinance prohibits landlords from increasing rent that falls under the city’s rent stabilization program until Dec. 31.

“During this time, we have to take certainty whenever we get it; and we have to make certainty for our residents wherever we can,” said San Jose City Councilwoman Dev Davis during the city council meeting on April. 28.
The Apartment Rent Ordinance restricts rent increases on approximately 39,000 apartments and more than 10,000 mobile homes.

Properties covered by the rent ordinance include apartments with three or more units and mobile homes that were built and occupied before September 7, 1979.

Single-family home rentals and newer apartments are not subject to rent control under state law and will not be eligible for the rent freeze ordinance.

Not everyone has savings to dip into when times get rough.”

— SJCC student Katya Madrigal

“There’s no problem with freezing rent for most apartments. No one should become homeless during or even after this pandemic because they can’t get back on their feet,” said landlord Shelly Anderson by phone, who owns a fourplex rental in San Jose. “But I think if there is going to be a rent freeze for tenants, something needs to be done for the landlords that pay property taxes, sewer and water bills, especially for landlords that own smaller units.”
San Jose joins various cities across California that have instituted similar measures to protect tenants during the current pandemic.

The decision to implement a rent freeze was based on the thousands of Bay Area workers that have filed for unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Jacky Morales-Ferrand, San Jose’s housing director, said that the three main reasons for the ordinance were to stabilize the city’s housing stock, prevent homelessness and ensure landlords could still receive a fair return on their rental properties.
“I think it’s great,” said SJCC student and biology major, Katya Madrigal , 19. “Not everyone has savings to dip into when times get rough. The freeze gives people time to make up for lost money.”

In addition to the freeze on rent increases, the city has adopted a temporary ban on residential and commercial evictions and has created a temporary paid sick leave policy that guarantees any essential employee in the city will be paid if they become unable to work because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“People have bills and those bills aren’t getting paid if we are being ordered to stay home and not work,” said single mother of two and San Jose resident, Kathy Campbell, by phone. “So I’m glad that something is being done so that way when we do go back to work the cost of rent doesn’t increase.”

To learn which apartments and mobile homes are protected by the rent stabilization program, visit the City of San Jose website.