SF Apartment : March 2018


Subsidizing Safety

The city is looking for landlords to partner with on a new and very important tenant subsidy program, which allows owners with vacant units to assist those in need without sacrificing the market rental rate of their units.

To qualify, tenants must have been displaced by a fire at a rent-controlled residential unit. The program offers a monthly rent subsidy, which pays the difference between the rent at the tenant’s fire-affected permanent residence and a comparable unit leased at the current market rate, as determined by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency. The subsidized amount is provided by the city directly to the landlord for up to two years, or until the original unit is ready to reoccupy, whichever occurs first.

San Francisco’s Human Services Agency is committed to assisting the needs of low- to moderate-income tenants who lose their homes suddenly because of fire damage. To help those in need affected by a fire, please reach out to the HSA, which will assist landlords in registering with the city. For more information and to participate in the program, please contact Benjamin Amyes at Benjamin.Amyes@sfgov.org or 415-557-5370.

Members Meetings Now Available Online

Have you ever wanted to attend an SFAA member meeting but just weren’t available on the third Monday of the month? Well, now you can view the member meetings anytime with a new, free service offered by SFAA. Just go to sfaa.org, log in with your member ID and password, and click on “Resources”. Scroll down to “Member Meeting Minutes” and you will see recordings for all the member meetings for 2017 and up to most recent meeting of 2018.

The recordings include the legal panel, the main meeting and a message from that meeting’s sponsor. There will also be downloads available of any handouts or PowerPoint presentations from the meeting as well. It’s the next best thing to being there! “If members can’t make the meeting, this is a great opportunity for them to listen in firsthand,” said SFAA Member Services Manager Maria Shea.

New Tax for Commercial Landlords Heads to the June Ballot

Five members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have banded together to put an increase to the gross receipts tax for commercial property owners on the June ballot. The “Housing for All” measure would raise the tax to 2 percent, a 1.7 percent increase. If passed, the raise would bring in about $100 million a year to pay for 10,000 low- and middle-income housing units and shelter accommodations for the city’s homeless population over the next decade.

The initiative—signed by Supervisors Ahsha Safaí, Jeff Sheehy, Malia Cohen, Katy Tang and Mark Farrell—would need the approval of two-thirds of voters to pass. There would be some exemptions and offsets for spaces rented to nonprofits and retailers, including property owners bringing in less than $1 million per year in rent payments.

The “Housing for All” measure will face not only the voters but also another competing ballot measure that is working its way through the petition process and is supported by Supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee. That measure would raise the same gross receipts tax by 3.5 percent to expand child-care subsidies. Since the same tax could not be increased twice, assuming the second measure makes the ballot as well, the one with the most votes would go into effect.

Inner Sunset Green Benefit District

This month, Inner Sunset property owners will receive mailed petitions on behalf of the Inner Sunset Green Benefit District (GBD). A GBD is an innovative way for property owners to invest in neighborhood improvements to ensure that their sidewalks, streetscapes and open spaces are cleaner, greener, safer and more attractive. It directly benefits all who own property, live and work within the district.

The Inner Sunset GBD would generate over $900,000 annually to fund improvements and services within its boundaries. GBD services could include: enhanced sidewalk landscaping, pedestrian safety improvements, lighting, sidewalk steam cleaning and safety outreach services. Importantly, a GBD can give property owners a direct voice in the future of their neighborhood by identifying and funding the projects most important to them.

Modeled on San Francisco’s highly successful Community Benefit District program, the GBD would provide a reliable communication channel with the city and neighborhood, ensure accountability with a locally representative board of directors, and enable unparalleled self-direction and advancement of local priorities. The formation effort is supported by a wide range of stakeholders including Inner Sunset Park Neighbors, Inner Sunset Merchant Association, the California Academy of Sciences, large and small property owners, merchants and residents.

Learn more at innersunsetgbd.org or contact innersunsetgbd@gmail.com.

State Appeals Court Rules That Condo Conversion Can Remove Rent Control

A recent state appeals court decision agreed with a local landlord that apartment buildings in rent-controlled cities, once condo-converted and resold, are exempt from rent control.

The case involved a five-unit Oakland apartment complex which was turned into four condominiums by its then-owner in 2013. Two years later, the owner sold all four condos, three of which were tenant occupied, to the same new owner, who purchased them in four separate transactions on the same day. One week after the sale, the new owner attempted to raise the rents from $600 to $1,350.

Two of the tenants took issue with the 125 percent increase and brought their case to the Oakland Rent Board. (The third signed a move-out agreement.) The landlord argued that the rent increase was legal because apartments converted to condominiums, once resold, are exempt from rent control under the state’s Costa-Hawkins law. However, the rent board ruled in the tenants’ favor because the condos were sold altogether to a single new owner.

The owner appealed the decision and eventually the case made its way to trial court, which agreed with the landlord’s interpretation of Costa-Hawkins. That court concluded that, “[n]othing in the statute or legislative intent suggests that the condominiums in a building are not sold separately if they are sold at the same time to the same buyer.”

The Oakland Rent Board appealed that decision and the first appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision, stating that the plaintiff’s conduct was legal and that, further, “It is not the function of this court to amend statutes or to define the public policy that these statutes should serve. Those matters are best left to the Legislature. Insofar as a loophole currently exists, it is for the Legislature to address.”

New CCRM Series Begins April 3

SFAA is pleased to announce its spring California Certified Residential Manager series, which will begin on April 3 and run through May 29, with a final exam on June 5. The classes will be held at Fort Mason and costs $85 per class for members, $100 for nonmembers.

SFAA Education Specialist Stephanie Alonzo is excited to report that, along with returning instructor Michelle Horneff-Cohen, this CCRM series will mark the return of Art Swanson, who has been on a multi-year hiatus from teaching the series. “SFAA is happy to welcome back Art Swanson from Lightner Properties,” Alonzo said. “Art brings over 25 years of experience to his training and is an asset to the SFAA training team.” Click here for more information on the spring series of CCRM.

Water Rates May Rise

San Francisco apartment owners may have recently received a mailing from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, letting owners know the agency is looking to raise its water rates over the next five years. “The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission works 24/7, 365 days per year, to deliver high-quality water to your tap and treat wastewater and stormwater runoff for residents and businesses,” explains Cindy Chu of the SFPUC. “These vital services are 100 percent funded by monthly water and sewer bills, currently about $0.03 per gallon. These rates have helped the SFPUC reach 95 percent completion on water system upgrades and extensively plan for sewer system upgrades. To continue work, protect public health and the environment, and serve customers now and in the future, the SFPUC plans to increase rates to $0.04 per gallon. This increase will support repairs, maintenance and upgrades to critical water and sewer systems.”

Chu says the agency encourages owner feedback about the proposed rate increase, both via email at ratesinfo@sfwater.org, and in-person at its public hearings. The next Rate Fairness Board meetings are March 2 and March 30 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. They will be held the SFPUC offices at 525 Golden Gate Ave, 2nd Floor, O’Shaughnessy Conference Room.

For more information on the rate increase, as well as incentives to save water and rebate programs, check out sfwater.org.