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Article Courtesy of SPOSFI, a CalRHA Affiliate Based in San Francisco; Written By: Noni Richen, SPOSFI President

Recently, we sent out an Action Alert concerning AB 1506. If you dismissed it and deleted it from your e-mail, or if you hear from us only by this newsletter, here’s the ugly story: this bill will repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, in effect since 1995. Central Valley Democratic Assembly member Jim Costa and Southern California Republican Phil Hawkins authored the bill, and a number of property owner associations were instrumental in getting it passed. We anticipate that the 10 CalRHA organizations will help us preserve Costa-Hawkins.

Over the years, we’ve written about Costa-Hawkins many times in our newsletter and discussed it in our Legal Panels. While the law prevents most price controls on new construction and on all single-family homes and condos, there’s another, more sinister, aspect to strict rent control sought by tenant radicals that Costa-Hawkins prevents: vacancy control.

Currently, when a tenant moves out, we’re able to rent to a new tenant at market rate. Under vacancy control, the new rent would be based on what the outgoing tenant was paying. This would condemn us to a lifetime of low rental income that would make maintaining our buildings untenable. We can be sure that if Costa-Hawkins is repealed, vacancy-controlled rents will be the law in San Francisco. The prohibition on vacancy control is so sensible and basic, and has been around for so long, that we take it for granted. But we can’t take it for granted anymore.

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

AB 1506 must be defeated. Please phone both offices of our two California State Assembly Members David Chiu and Phil Ting. Each office tallies the number of calls on any bill, so calling both will have the greatest impact.

 

  • Assemblymember David Chiu
    Sacramento: (916) 319-2017
    San Francisco: (415) 557-3013
  • Assemblymember Phil Ting
    Sacramento: (916) 319-2019
    San Francisco: (415) 557-2312

 

PANDERING TO RADICAL TENANT GROUPS

If our legislators had any thoughts beyond securing support from radical tenant groups for their next election, they would never tamper with Costa-Hawkins. They would recall that in New York City thousands of owners simply walked away from their buildings because they could not afford to maintain them filled with low-paying tenants who had the right to pass “their” apartments on to family members in perpetuity.

 

WORKING FOR YOU ON MANY FRONTS

While we push back vigorously against destructive legislation like AB 1506, we also maintain an organization that responds to nuts-and-bolts property management issues. In February, we had an attorney speak about the restrictions placed on us when we interview prospective tenants. Much of the discussion was about criminal background and sex offender status, and the fact that our questioning options are quite limited. At our April meeting, we’ll have an official from the Fire Department speak about the new regulations we must follow in our buildings.We’ve also met with representatives of short-term and corporate rental companies to discuss legal options for small property owners who are fearful of life-time tenancies and seek shorter-term arrangements. But right now we need to focus on building a coalition to push back against the excessive controls that our state and local elected officials foolishly try to push on us.

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