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Sacramento tenants frustrated as emergency moratorium on no-fault evictions fails

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors failed to approve a moratorium that would close a loophole in the state law preventing no-fault evictions.

The measure would have protected tenants who are receiving eviction notices in advance of a tenants’ rights law due to take effect in January.

The measure was introduced by Supervisor Phil Serna after up to 44 tenants in the Bell Oaks Apartments got eviction notices following a change in ownership. One of them is Jeff Barka, who blamed greedy landlords for displacing tenants.

“Kick people out, bring the place back on the market January 1st, and charge five or six hundred dollars more per unit,” Barka said.

Half a dozen cities have passed similar moratoriums that prevent unwarranted evictions until the state law takes effect.

“There are some bad actors out there that are gaming the system,” Serna said.

Dozens of tenants, homeless advocates and volunteer groups endorsed the measure.

The California Apartment Association announced at the meeting that it had worked with Supervisor Susan Peters to work out a settlement that would give tenants of Bell Oaks their deposits back, as well as $2,500 in moving expenses.

But some said that wasn’t enough to get into a new apartment at a reasonable rent.

Tenants who got eviction notices from other apartment complexes said the settlement doesn’t help them.

Peters apparently did not consider the situation an emergency and said she wanted the measure delayed.

Supervisor Sue Frost sympathized with apartment owners who she believed needed more flexibility to set rents before the state law kicks in. She drew heckles after she said that renters could save money and be able to buy a house.

The emergency ordinance needed four votes on the five-member board to pass. It got three.

“I’m ashamed, I’m outright ashamed of the vote today,” Serna said. “It wasn’t a lot to ask for our board to consider a moratorium for the next seven weeks until the beginning of the calendar year.”

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