Austin City Council votes to protect renters' rights

Austin City Council voted to pass multiple items on renters' rights.

Thursday morning, the Austin Justice Coalition held a renters' rights rally.

One of the items on the city council agenda is the renters' right to cure. This would let tenants fix, or "cure" lease violations before facing harsher penalties, like eviction. Landlords have to give notice of a proposed eviction before giving a notice to vacate.

A notice of tenants' rights has to be given in English and Spanish, as well as a list of resources.

"The Austin Apartment Association is unable to support an ordinance mandating additional days' notice for lease violations and nonpayment of rent as it is out of sync with the Texas property code. What we can support is alternatives, specifically the recommended notice of tenants' rights ordinance that was proposed in lieu of this ordinance or a narrow application of this ordinance," one public commenter said.

"If I get evicted because I can't pay rent while I'm sick, I have no place to go and will end up on the streets," another public commenter said.

Another item protects renters' right to organize. It allows renters to set up meetings with their landlords and prohibit landlord retaliation.

"An organizer who is invited by a tenant at the property is allowed to be on the property," District 4 Council Member Chito Vela said.

Another item closed displacement loopholes in the Tenant Relocation Ordinance to make sure renters who are being displaced have the right amount of notice and have access to resources.

"By council today stepping up and supporting a pro-renters' agenda, we are showing and demonstrating to our community that we care about our renters and that we're here to offer protections for our renters," District 2 Council Member Vanessa Fuentes said.

"The right to organize is very essential, because it gives a sense of support when renters can congregate and sit down and talk about things that they're feeling, come up with solutions to bring to their property manager, landlord, that could best help them, because come on, they're the one living in it," Philisa Campbell, program director at Austin Tenants Council said.

District 6 Council Member Mackenzie Kelly was the only "no" vote on the items about tenant organizing and the displacement loophole.

Fuentes says the items will go into effect in about 10 days.