MERCED, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Merced City Council voted on an ordinance that will provide relief for the displaced families affected by flooding back in January.

“Ultimately I believe it was 1700 residents that were temporarily displaced by the flooding,” said Matthew Serratto, Merced’s mayor. “I think we see our role as a council  is to make smart decisions, in a time of crisis to step up and lead to the extent necessary and the first job is the health and safety of our citizens.”

The ordinance would protect tenants by providing them with the “Right of first refusal,” meaning the landlord would have to offer the unit to its prior tenant before offering it to anyone else first.

“For a period of six months the landlord can only evict the tenant for cause, things like failure to pay rent violation of the lease, creating some sort of nuisance,” Serratto said. “The standard things that people are evicted for.”

If a tenant was to move back into the existing unit, the landlord would not be permitted from raising the rent for six months.

“The reason for that is to give people who have been displaced their property damaged, who have lost a lot, who have been through a lot,” Serratto said. “To give them the opportunity to at least have six months of stability to get back on their feet, bring some normalcy back into their lives.”

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