Why doesn’t RRAC work?

by Eric Strimling

     Have you ever been to a RRAC meeting?I have. The one renter, out of twenty who got increases, who had the courage to confront their landlord in a public meeting had had their rent increased by 30% in three years. He asked for a break from the proposed 5% rent increase this year. He was asked three times if he had some sort of financial hardship, but the landlord representatives were never asked why they needed the increase. The RRAC cut the increase to 3.6%, still substantially more than inflation, but the landlord is free to ignore that. The tenant wasted their time and has made an enemy of folks who can evict him without cause at any time.
     We are told that the RRAC allows the Tenant and Landlord to come together and “negotiate” a “fair” rent. But consider the two parties in this negotiation. On the one hand we have the Tenant who’s home is being threatened. They stand to lose their neighborhood, their kids’ schools, their work commute, and all that they have invested in the Alameda community. On the other hand, we have the Landlord, who may lose the relocation fee and a month’s rent. But as compensation they will be able to increase the rent to full market if the current tenant moves. So, if the Landlord gets the increase they want they win! And if the tenant moves, the Landlord wins! No wonder so few tenants bother to use the RRAC. Why pick a fight you cannot win?
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