Madera City Council temporarily blocks landlords from evicting residents without cause

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Madera City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance that will keep dozens of people from being evicted from their homes during the holidays.

Several tenants at one Madera apartment complex received 60-day eviction notices last month.

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The families say they were not told why they're being forced out, but it's happening just before a new state law goes into effect that will make it more difficult and expensive for rental property owners to evict tenants.

That's why the city council held on Wednesday what they call an "urgency ordinance" on the agenda that would stop no-fault evictions immediately.

Before the ordinance passed, one resident, Abegail Villarreal, explained why she was facing extra stress heading into the holidays as she wondered where she and her family will live and where her young children will go to school. They're among about 30 tenants at the Laguna Knolls apartment complex who received 60-day eviction notices on October 25th.

"It's heartbreaking. It's overwhelming for a lot of us because we don't know. There's no places here in Madera, not enough places for these families to go and live," she said.

But now Villarreal and several other tenants are glad the City of Madera passed an urgency ordinance that will keep them in their current homes for a little while longer.

The ordinance prevents residential rental owners from evicting tenants without "at-fault just cause," and it takes effect immediately.

"There are already seven families that have left, and we don't want any more to leave because they're doubling up in homes, living two families to a home. They're going to become homeless," said Madera councilmember Santos Garcia.

The city ordinance will only remain in effect through December 31st because a new state law starts January 1st. AB1482 limits rent increases and prohibits property owners from terminating tenancy 'without just cause' if someone has lived in the home for 12 months or more.

It also requires that property owners provide tenants with one month's rent to help cover relocation costs in the event of a no-fault termination.

While the law is intended to protect tenants, it is also being blamed for widespread evictions across the state in recent months. Garcia believes some property owners are trying to push people out while they still can in order to charge higher prices in the new year.

"If anybody is affected by this, whether it's in Madera or other communities, they should immediately ask their city council to look into the situation," Garcia said.

The ordinance required a four-fifths approval to pass. All seven of the council's members voted to approve it.
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