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Pasadena closes loophole that allowed landlords to skimp on relocation fees

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Landlords are supposed to pay relocation fees to low- and moderate-income tenants

Pasadena officials have closed a loophole in the city’s tenant protection law that for years allowed landlords to avoid paying move-out fees to evicted tenants, the Pasadena Star News reports.

The law, called the Tenant Protection Ordinance, was passed in 2004, requiring landlords to pay relocation fees to low- and moderate-income tenants being evicted when their units are about to be demolished or removed from the rental market. Those fees range from $1,894 to $4,454, depending on the number of bedrooms. (Landlords must also pay moving fees of $1,200 or $3,611 for seniors and disabled tenants.)

But as the Star News reports, in the 13 years since the ordinance went into effect—only 91 tenants have benefited from that financial assistance.

That’s because of a loophole in the original measure that allows landlords to avoid helping renters with moving costs as long as they terminate the tenancy “in accordance with state law,” providing at least 30 days of notice.

The Pasadena City Council revised the ordinance on April 3, clarifying that landlords must pay relocation and moving expenses to evicted tenants in good standing when the reason for the eviction is demolition or the removal of the unit from the market. Additionally, if the tenant is evicted so that the landlord or a member of the landlord’s family can make use of the unit, tenants are eligible for half the moving expenses.

In order to qualify for those fees, tenants must earn under 140 percent of the median income in LA County. According to US Census data, median income in the county is $56,196. Tenants making over roughly $78,674, then, would be ineligible.

According to a recent study from Zumper, Pasadena’s median rental price is $2,130.