When: Tuesday, September 3 at 6:30PM-8:00PM (doors open at 6:15PM)
Where: Community Room, 2727 Milvia St.

FREE monthly legal counseling for tenants!

BTU is resuming our clinics and workshops for renters. This month, counseling will take place from 6 to 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 25. Sessions will be scheduled in advance and take place at BTU’s headquarters in the Grassroots House on Blake near Shattuck.

Renters can sign up for a chance to speak with tenant attorneys about your situation by clicking the link below.

http://tinyurl.com/yxwzzw6f

For information on future counseling dates, workshops, or other places to get help, email us at info at berkeleytenants dot org or visit our resources page on this website. You can also like our facebook and sign up for the mailing list by using the links right here >>>>>

See you June 17!

Berkeley Tenants Union Membership Meeting
Monday June 17th @ 6 PM

The meeting will be held at 2727 Milvia Street, in the Sports Basement Community Room.

This relaunch meeting BTU scheduled for June 3 has been moved to June 17 because a meeting regarding housing at the Ashby BART location was recently scheduled for June 3.

Our meeting is open to members and other renters interested in accessing or strengthening their rights. For more information, please see our previous post, check our facebook page, or email BTU.

April 19, 2019

The Honorable Hannah-Beth Jackson
Chair, Senate Committee on Judiciary
State Capitol, Room 2187
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 403-7394 

RE: Support – SB 529 (Durazo)

Dear Chair Jackson & Committee Members:

On behalf of the Berkeley Tenants Union, I write in support of SB 529 (Durazo), a bill that would provide crucial protections for vulnerable tenants. 
The Berkeley Tenants Union advocates for tenants legislatively, both in the City Council and the State Legislature.  We also work with tenants directly to address their issues.

Much as a labor union is key to winning fair treatment of workers, a tenant association is a crucial part of balancing power between landlord and tenants. Acting together, tenants can gain bargaining power, but too often tenants who organize with their neighbors frequently face retaliation and eviction. 

SB 529 recognizes the right to form a tenant association and extends crucial protections to tenant association members.  Specifically, the bill provides that any tenant who forms or joins a tenant association shall have the following rights:

1. No eviction of the tenants in the tenant association except for cause

2. A right to engage in rent strike – landlord must bargain in good faith about grievances and may not evict for nonpayment during the negotiation period

3. Five times current penalties for retaliation or violation of this law

The bill provides essential protections for tenants to prevent retaliation for organizing activities. We request your support for this bill. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Julia Cato
Berkeley Tenants Union, Chair of Steering Committee

For more information on the bill, consult our friends at Tenants Together:
http://www.tenantstogether.org/sb-529-right-organize-protect-tenant-voices-advocacy-resources

You could also read the bill, or check its status, here:
“This bill would declare that tenants have the right to form, join, and participate in the activities of a tenant association, subject to any restrictions as may be imposed by law, or to refuse to join or participate in the activities of a tenant association. The bill would define “tenant association” for these purposes and require a tenant association under these provisions to adopt bylaws or an operating agreement for purposes of its internal governance.”
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB529

https://berkeleytenants.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/BTU-letter-SB-529.pdf

In Berkeley, tenants have a right to live in safe housing and landlords are required to certify that the housing they are renting out meets safety standards. That’s why, every July 1st, owners of rental housing in Berkeley must certify that their units meet those safety standards. They do this by utilizing the Rental Housing Safety Program (RHSP) Self Certification Safety Checklist known as Schedule A.  All owners of rental property, even those with only one or two units, are required to fill out the form every year. The Schedule A form, which was revised in September 2018, requires the owner to certify that the structural elements of the building, both inside and out, are functioning properly and safely.  

For instance, the form asks that owners certify that doors have working deadbolts; that windows are fully operable with no cracked or broken panes; and that the heating system, plumbing and gas lines are in good working order. Landlords must also certify that elevated, exposed decks, balconies or walkways show no visible signs of sagging, leaning, or cracking and that they have no other defects that permit moisture to seep in and possibly deteriorate the structure.  In 2015, a balcony at the apartment complex formerly known as Library Gardens collapsed because moisture had seeped into the base of the balcony, resulting in the death of six Irish students.  

The City does not require owners to provide it with the certified checklist, instead, the owner must provide the Schedule A checklist to each tenant; this informs the tenant that the unit is certified as safe. The owner must also keep a copy of the form.  In order to completely fill out all elements of the Schedule A form, a tenant must allow the owner access to the unit once every year. If a tenant does not allow an owner into the unit to self-certify, the owner must then inform the City by submitting Schedule A to the RHSP office indicating that certification was not possible.  

The RHSP is part of the City’s existing program of conducting proactive inspections to randomly selected properties as well as inspections in response to complaints. During an inspection of a rental unit or room, the property owner is required to produce a copy of the completed ScheduleA form. If the owner fails to produce a copy of the form, the inspector may issue the owner a citation and a $200 fine, for not being in compliance with Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) 12.48.050.

There are, however, exceptions to the owner self-certification requirement: newly constructed rental units are exempt for five years after the issuance of a certification of occupancy; additionally, once a unit or room has been inspected by the City, and the owner receives a Notice of Compliance, the unit or room does not need to be certified again for a period of three years.

Tenants living in units that have safety issues, such as broken windows or leaky roofs may make an inspection request to the City’s Housing Code Enforcement unit.

Berkeley Tenants Union Membership Meeting/Relaunch
When: Monday, June 3, 6-8:30PM
Where: Sports Basement (2727 Milvia St., Berkeley, California 94703; located in South Berkeley)
Facebook event:www.facebook.com/events/1656290374677685/

Join the Berkeley Tenants Union on June 3 (6-8:30PM) at Sports Basement in South Berkeley (2727 Milvia St, Berkeley, CA 94703) for a general membership meeting/relaunch of BTU! Whether you were previously a member of BTU or are interested in joining for the first time, you won’t want to miss this great meeting.

A formal agenda will be announced closer to the meeting date, but topics will include:

An introduction to the Berkeley Tenants Union
California Senate Bill 529 (Tenant Right to Organize/Protecting Tenant Voices Advocacy) and forming building associations
Information about the Berkeley Rent Board, including what protections and services it offers for tenants in both rent controlled and non-rent controlled in building, as well as your rights as a tenant in general
Information about counseling services
A question and answer period (e.g. “What happens if my landlord does X?”)
How to get more involved with BTU

If you want to help us get the word out to tenants about this important meeting, please email info at berkeleytenants dot org. We are especially looking for volunteers to hand out our flyers and talk to tenants about this meeting. The Berkeley Tenants Union is volunteer led and membership supported. We are only as strong as our members.

Anti-Displacement Workshop for Berkeley Residents:
What can you do if you are being priced out of Berkeley?

When: Saturday, March 30, 4-5:30PM
Where: Berkeley Public Library West Branch (1125 University Avenue)
Hosted by: Bay Area Community Land Trust (BACLT)

The Bay Area Community Land Trust (BACLT) will host a workshop on preventing displacement of Berkeley residents.  BACLT is particularly interested in meeting with current Berkeley residents who are under threat of being displaced or are worried about eventual displacement due to the rising costs of housing.

facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/668606143556993/

Yes on Prop 10
Repeal Costa-Hawkins

Prop 10 is the most important ballot measure renters in California have voted on in decades!

If y’all want to save what is left of Berkeley, or San Francisco, or Oakland or even LA, y’all better get out there and do something for Yes on 10!

Get Involved:
Yes on 10
https://voteyesonprop10.org/

Learn to Talk About Prop 10
http://www.tenantstogether.org/campaigns/repeal-costa-hawkins-rental-housing-act

PROP 10 is about LOCAL CONTROL
https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/election-endorsements/article218278780.html

Comprehensive Research Report from UC Berkeley
https://haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/opening-door-rent-control

The Community Power Slate sponsors a Yes on 10 forum:

SUNDAY OCTOBER 21 – 3 PM
South Berkeley Senior Center
2939 Ellis Street at Ashby

 

Community Power Slate
Elect a Pro-Tenant Rent Board in Berkeley

For over a quarter century, Berkeley progressives have come together to choose a consensus slate for the Rent Board. This spring, the Berkeley Tenant Convention chose local leaders John Selawsky (formerly on the School Board) and Paola Laverde, currently the Rent Board’s Vice Chair and an outspoken advocate for Yes on Prop 10. Also on the Community Power Slate for Berkeley Rent Board are James Chang, UCB junior Soli Alpert, and Maria Poblet, a founder of Causa Justa Oakland.

The landlords are running an opposition slate, so pay attention when voting!
https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPowerSlate/

MORE ELECTION NEWS

Berkeley City Council
BTU endorsed Kate Harrison (District 4: Downtown) and Igor Tregub (District 1: Fourth Street, North Berkeley BART). Igor used to be on the Rent Board and has always been a solid advocate for tenants. Kate is the wisest leader in Berkeley, with a lot of behind the scenes experience in San Francisco’s crazier days. She has done amazing work for affordable housing on the City Council in her very short term.

Both of these leaders are reasonable people with good hearts who look at facts when making decisions.
Send them money!
http://electkateharrison.com/
https://www.igortregub.com/

BTU also endorsed Rigel Robinson, a newcomer whose website mentions nothing about renters in the housing policy statement. He is currently External Affairs Vice President of the ASUC and will fill the district with the most renters, taking the place of longtime tenant leader Kriss Worthington, who has endorsed Robinson.
“Rigel believes we need to build more housing, for all students, right next to campus, right now. As a City Councilmember, he’ll push for zoning requirements that allow for taller, denser buildings around campus — while fighting for more units that are affordable.”
https://rigelrobinson.com/

Finally, BTU endorsed Mary Kay Lacey for District 8. Lacey will fight for renters in the district which has been represented by Lori Droste, who repeatedly voted to eliminate rent controlled units through demolitions and conversions to Air BnB. Lacey became known for her work on the Task Force to Save Alta Bates hospital.

“Protect against displacement by building targeted affordable housing for students, working families and those facing eviction… I am also fully committed to the Pathways Project and a ‘housing first’ solution to our homelessness crisis.”
https://lacey2018.com/issues/

BTU-Endorsed Candidates:
State Assembly: Jovanka Beckles
Rent Board: Soli Alpert, James Chang, Paola Laverde, Maria Poblet, John Selawsky (Community Power Slate)
Council District 1: Igor Tregub
Council District 4: Kate Harrison
Council District 7: Rigel Robisnon
Council District 8: Mary Kay Lacey

BTU-Endorsed Housing Measures:
Prop 10 (Costa-Hawkins Repeal): YES!
Measure O (Affordable Housing Bond): Yes
Measure P (Transfer Tax for Homeless Services): Yes
Measure Q (Rent Board Amendments): No Endorsement
Prop 1 (Affordable Housing Bond): Yes
Prop 2 (Homeless Prevention Bond): Yes
Prop 5 (Property Tax Break): No

Now, The Good News

At their 10th anniversary celebration, the statewide renters group Tenants Together chose to honor Berkeley’s own Julia Cato, who has worked hard with several groups – including BTU – to make sure the voices of seniors and tenants are heard by the folks who represent us.

Tenants Together also has a counselor training coming up. I don’t think anyone does counseling for BTU since I left, so someone really should try to get the program up and running again! Tenants could use a peer advocate to help them navigate the bureaucracies that govern, even if California does get some better laws this election day!

More Worried About Trump than Lakireddy?
Get Involved on the National Level!

The Right to the City Alliance / Homes For All held their second national Renter Power Assembly this summer, with over 100 tenant groups coming together from all over the United States. Start by joining their mailing list to give renters a unified voice on national housing policy!

“If the housing crisis has been slow to register at the level of national politics, it’s not for lack of momentum at the grassroots. There is no major city in the United States today without a multitude of tenants’ rights groups, and “gentrification” has, in the span of a decade, crossed from left-wing academic journals into everyday language. From coast to coast, a loosely organized, intersectional, and bottom-up movement is coalescing around housing justice—the idea that housing is inextricable from a range of other issues like racial justice, poverty, the environment, immigration, and the rights of the formerly incarcerated.”
https://righttothecity.org/

LEARN MORE SUNDAY:
https://www.facebook.com/events/315079089075676/

KEEP UP WITH BTU ON FACEBOOK
https://www.facebook.com/berkeleytenants/

ELECT RENTERS
https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPowerSlate/

SAVE CALIFORNIA 
https://www.facebook.com/yesonprop10/