The Bay Area housing crisis is causing five cities to consider rent control in this November’s election.
San Francisco has had some form of rent control since 1979, so we went to a meeting of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco and asked how’s it working?
Noni Richen, the president of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco, described a multi-building that remained vacant for years because the landlord knew he wouldn’t be able to remodel if he allowed tenants to move in.
Landlords were more concerned with tenant protections than rent limits.
Louise Renne is a former San Francisco Supervisor who drafted the first rent control law in 1979.
Renne said, “I’m still of the opinion that so much depends on good relationships between the landlords and the tenants. Not all landlords are bad, there’s some very good ones. And not all tenants are bad, there’s some very good ones. But there are obviously exceptions to the rule. Overall I do think it’s worked well.”
For people without rental control, one bad landlord can be devastating.
Mari Perez-Ruiz, a renter in Alameda, said during Renters Regional Day of Action, “I had a year to year lease, and my landlord modified it to 6 months and when I questioned it I was told that’s the way it is…After 6 months, my rent went up again. So in a period of 6 months my rent went up close to $600.”
Randy Shaw is the executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. Over the years he’s heard many horror stories from tenants. He’s not surprised by the push for rent control.
“I think it’s hard because it only takes a handful of landlords to create the kind of public outcry that leads to rent control measures,” Shaw said.
Richen agrees, saying “…often it only takes one bad apple out of years of having great people. It takes one bad tenant to make an owner decide to keep his unit off the market. It really is a shame.”
One thing everyone agreed on, was that the Bay Area needs more housing.