The City Council in Lancaster, Ca., is considering a plan to charge landlords $95 a year per unit for security. The Los Angeles Times says the plan results from rising crime rates being blamed on rental properties. The money would pay for eight Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies responsible for crime and quality-of-life issues in and near rental housing.
Landlords argue that they are being unfairly singled out to solve a citywide problem. A 2,000-member organization of property owners says the cost would be passed to renters. “This is unfair to tenants, because they’re saying that anyone who rents property is a scummy person,” said Maxi Case, a landlord. “But 99.9% of people were renters at one time.”
The ordinance’s prime advocate is a prosecutor, David Berger. Serious felonies in Lancaster have risen from 257 crimes per 10,000 people in 1999 to 420 crimes per 10,000 people this year. Berger says that residential neighborhoods with a higher concentration of rental housing had more crime.
Under the proposal landlords could reduce their payment by $30 per unit by making their buildings safer – for instance, installing lights in dark areas and running background checks on potential renters. “It’s not singling out renters as bad people,” Berger said. “It’s basically protecting renters. The vast majority of renters have no protection against the small minority that’s taking over their communities.”