Throughout the last several months SABOR has been monitoring the city’s efforts in exploring the creation of a Residential Renters Commission. The commission would be the first of its kind for a municipality in Texas and would be designed to help a growing portion of San Antonio’s renter population.
SABOR stands by the city as it has proven its commitment to strengthening the connection between city government and its residents and wants to be sure there is an equitable balance of property owners, property managers, landlords, and renters represented on all boards and commissions at City Hall including with a newly created Renters Commission.
SABOR has concerns over a commission comprised solely of renters as evidenced by a similar renters commission established in the City of Seattle. Seattle’s Renters Commission is made up solely of residential renters and since its inception in 2017 has been responsible for several measures that have impacted the affordability of the housing industry and harmed private property rights. Those measures included:
- Elimination of background checks – Seattle landlords are prohibited from conducting criminal background checks for most tenants.
- “First in Time” law – Seattle’s Renters Commission helped pass the “first-in-time” housing law which requires landlords to accept the first qualified tenant who applies.
- Rent control – Seattle’s Renters’ Commission urged its City Council to implement rent control legislation in Seattle to pressure Washington state legislature to lift its statewide ban
- Eviction forgiveness – Prohibit landlords from using eviction records that are more than 3 years old and seal all eviction records after 7 years.
- Eviction moratorium during winter months – mandate a pause on evictions from November – March.
- Extending rent increase notice period – provide renters with 180 days of notice which would be 6 times current Seattle standard.
Rental housing involves a variety of components and to limit this group to only one viewpoint could prove itself to be problematic long-term. A renters-only commission will not benefit the dialogue nor lead to real solutions that our city faces in dealing with the affordability of housing, developing proactive solutions to displacement caused by renters’ financial situations, and creating and promoting programs to help residents with previous rental issues that make it difficult for them to secure housing.
SABOR is committed to the goal of a decent home and suitable living environment for every family. This commitment encompasses the entire housing ladder from the homeless to renters, to the first-time homebuyer. As the city continues to explore what a Renters Commission would look like in San Antonio, SABOR implores City Council to create one that reflects the symbiotic relationship rental housing illustrates. The potential dialogue facilitated by a balanced Renters Commission between tenants, property owners, property managers and landlords can provide reasonable and equitable solutions for the problems renters are now faced with, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These policy recommendations made by a balanced Renters Commission will ultimately lower the rates of evictions long-term across San Antonio and create safer and more accessible and affordable housing opportunities. San Antonio needs to ensure that even during this pandemic, the process is fair and promotes stable tenancy that is beneficial to both landlords and tenants.
For questions, please contact SABOR’s Government Affairs staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.