SF Apartment : February 2016


Tools of the Tradeshow

February brings the annual SFAA tradeshow! Please note the event is being held earlier in 2016. Be sure to mark your calendars for Monday, February 22. The event will take place at Fort Mason, Gallery 308, from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m.
The tradeshow covers all facets of the multifamily housing industry. Professionals who provide San Francisco’s property owners with top products and services will be on hand. In addition to vendor booths, free educational classes will be offered. The event is free and open to the general public, so bring your friends and family. Please note the tradeshow replaces the February SFAA member meeting.

For more on the tradeshow or to become a sponsor, contact Vanessa Khaleel at vanessa@sfaa.org.

San Francisco Housing Authority Holds Forum for Education, Program Expansion and Feedback

On December 3, 2015, the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) held a forum regarding the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV), formerly known as Section 8. The forum was attended by SFHA officers, San Francisco Apartment Association staff, and approximately 30 property owners. The intention of the forum was threefold. First, it provided landlords who already participate in the HCV program with an educational opportunity to review the information they need to keep their tenancies and subsidy payments running smoothly. Second, the forum aimed to bring in interested property owners who were not yet participating in the Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-funded rent subsidy program by providing an opportunity for question and answer. Finally, the forum was an opportunity for participating property owners to provide feedback to the SFHA in order to create the strongest partnerships possible, said SFHA Deputy Executive Director Dariush Kayhan.

The forum, held at the West Bay Conference Center at 1290 Fillmore Street, was comprised of a mix of landlords both old and new to the HCV program. Kayhan says he believes landlords participate in the HCV program because they are attracted to steady rent payments that are not driven by boom-and-bust economic cycles, since the program tends to create long-term tenancies. Additionally, some property owners participate as a form of community philanthropy.

The SFHA was established in 1938 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. A commission appointed by the mayor is responsible for determining SFHA policies, procedures and contracts; the authority is one hundred percent funded by the federal government. The SFHA works to determine residents’ eligibility for the HCV program based on HUD-determined annual income limits, and works with landlords to perform required biennial inspections for participating units, ensuring housing quality standards are met and that both non-life-threatening and life-threatening necessary repairs are made. Participating landlords’ rents must meet the “fair market rent” as determined by a rent reasonableness study facilitated by the SFHA; rents must be similar to comparable units in the neighborhood. Fair-market rents for 2016 in San Francisco currently stand at $1553 for a studio, $1995 for a one bedroom and $2517 for a two bedroom; published rates are available for units up to six bedrooms. Generally, a participating subsidized resident pays 30 percent of their gross monthly income and the voucher pays the balance up to the contract rent. If the contract rent is higher than the fair market rent, the tenant pays more, up to 40 percent of their income. The SFHA follows the rent control guidance for units that fall under the San Francisco Rent Control Ordinance. For properties that are exempt from rent control, HUD guidelines, including a rent comparability analysis, are followed.

Questions at December’s forum largely centered on rent increase eligibility and paperwork, the effect a resident’s change in income can have on the subsidy amount, and holdups in subsidy payments due to late inspections. Kayhan said participants in the program expressed that “long-term tenancies and the steadiness of payments,” were aspects of the HCV program that were working well; participating landlords also expressed they had “good relationships with tenants because landlords are getting good referrals and screening—the tenants are respectful.”

Kayhan, who came to the Housing Authority in 2015, has a long background in community and supportive housing services, including four years as Director of Homeless Policy at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, five years as Director of Housing and Homeless Programs at San Francisco’s Human Services Agency and seven years as the Housing Program Manager at the San Francisco Department of Human Services. He is committed to bringing his expertise to the SFHA and is working to improve during his tenure “the flow of information, the follow-up between customer service and participating landlords.”

“The forum allowed the Housing Authority to put a name to the face,” said Kayhan. “It allowed landlords to meet SFHA program staff, and for all to review the necessary processes and forms.” The forum was designed with transparency in mind, he added. “We need to hear the constructive criticism in order to develop a stronger partnership with landlords—it’s key going forward.”

Kayhan’s goals for the HCV program include growth and improved communication. “We want to become a nationally recognized HCV provider.” To meet this goal, he said, the SFHA must remain open to feedback and concerns from landlords. The SFHA also plans to establish an owner portal where owners can check their inspection status, payment history, and request a rent increase. A forum similar to December’s will be offered again come summer, and will be advertised via SFAA and other landlord association mailing lists.

“The need is great,” Kayhan expressed. “We have a really important resource, which is a dedicated stream of rent that we can provide to the landlord, but we’re only as effective as our partnership with landlords and the number of landlords we work with—it’s a two-way street. So we’re really grateful to the landlords who have reached out to us, and we’d like to expand that.”

How great is the need? The SFHA currently administers 6146 HCV families citywide. The program’s waitlist was last opened in 2001—fifteen years ago; just shy of 2000 names remain on that list right now (a number that includes those who may have already moved out of the area due to the inability to find housing they can afford). Additionally, when the SFHA opened another waitlist for public housing for homeless families in January 2015, 10,000 families who self-declared as homeless applied.

If you are already participating in the HCV program and have any questions, concerns or feedback, or if you are interested in developing a new partnership with the Housing Authority, contact customercare@sfha.org or call 415-715-5200. For those working with or interested in Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH), contact Dennis Moore, HUD-VASH Supervisory Social Worker, Department of Veterans Affairs, dennis.moore5@va.gov or 415-489-3310.

Foster v. Britton: Failure to Comply With Changes to Lease Terms Not Grounds For Eviction

According to a 2000 state law, a landlord has the right to change the terms of a month-to-month lease after giving 30 days’ notice. The new terms become part of the lease if the tenant continues to reside at the property after the notice period. However, in 2012 the San Francisco Rent Board passed regulations restricting a landlord’s ability to evict a tenant based on changes to lease terms. The rent board rule states that a violation of terms not included in a tenant’s original lease are not grounds for eviction, “unless the change is authorized by San Francisco’s rent control ordinance, is required by law, or is accepted by the tenant in writing.”

On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, the First District Court of Appeal upheld in Foster v. Britton that state law did not supersede the local rent board regulation. The landlord in the case had implemented a new set of “House Rules” upon his 2011 purchase of the building in which the tenant had resided for over 40 years. Among the new terms were changes regarding parking spaces, outdoor storage and garbage services. The tenant was informed she would need to comply with the new terms or give 30 days’ written notice and move out. The landlord argued that he had the right to give such notice under state law. However, the appeals court disagreed, saying local governments have the right to determine eviction standards.

The ruling in this case reinforces tenant protections and prevents changes to lease terms as a way to upend rent control, but further restricts landlords’ ability to implement change at their properties.