Cashing In on Renters

April 2017

Cashing In on Renters

Wealthy corporations and absentee landlords reap millions in profits from rising rents

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A booming technology sector has helped turn the city of San Jose into the second most expensive apartment rental market of any major city in the country.

A family now needs to earn $113,040 just to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. Unfortunately, wages for most families have not kept up with the cost of rent, making it difficult for many to afford basic necessities every month.

In fact, rents have skyrocketed in the past few years, increasing by nearly 40 percent since 2011. These increases have come at a high cost to families, while putting millions of dollars in profits into the pockets of wealthy corporate landlords and financial institutions (most of whom live far outside the city).

Rental housing plays a vital role for a variety of people in San Jose. The majority of single mothers, families with young children, Latinos, African Americans, and non-citizens in San Jose live in rental housing.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development sets a national benchmark that household should spend no more than thirty percent of their income on rental housing to be affordable. Of the more than 400,000 tenants in San Jose, the majority pay more than thirty percent of their income on housing and struggle to afford rent every month. Most San Jose families earning less than $50,000 a year are extremely rent-burdened, paying more than half of their income every month just for rent.

Nonetheless, it’s getting worse. Landlords have a new trick to drive profits: they have begun to use “no cause” evictions to kick some of the city’s most vulnerable families to the curb.

The law offers no protection from these “no cause” evictions. Good tenants who play by the all rules — pay rent on time, keep their properties in good order, and never bother their neighbors — can be evicted by their landlords. And the tenants have no means to stop it.

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