SF Apartment : April 2016


Tenants & Technology

Renters are looking for online conveniences and are willing to pay more for an apartment that offers them, according to a new survey from AppFolio. The cloud-based property management software company conducted the survey to uncover what today’s renters want and what amenities modern property managers need to have to meet their expectations.

Among current renters, nearly one-third said that they found the rental listing for their current residence online (via an online classified ad or an online service). Finding a rental listing via word of mouth was in second place with 23%. “This indicates the importance of a digital presence during the listing process and, with traditional word of mouth remaining prominent, the importance of satisfied residents,” said the report.

The survey also found that the content of those online listings are important as well. “Nearly a quarter of renters eliminate a property from their search if photos or videos of the property are unavailable. Bad reviews (of the property itself or of the property manager) are also a deterrent, with 27% of respondents choosing this as the top reason for eliminating a property from their search,” the report stated.

The survey also found that today’s renters are attracted to digital conveniences after move-in as well. From paying rent to reporting a maintenance issue, renters want to be able to do apartment tasks online. The majority of tenants (46%) prefer to pay their rent digitally—through an app, website or via automatic withdrawal.

All renters may want more convenience but younger renters are more willing to pay more for an apartment that offers what they want. “Of the total respondents that cite rent being more than they want to pay as the top reason for eliminating a property from the search, only 28% are age 18-34. Adults age 55-64 are most sensitive to price, with 45% selecting it as the top determining factor,” the report stated.

Alameda Passes Rent Control Measure

After a contentious meeting with more than 100 speakers, the Alameda City Council approved a citywide rent control measure. While the measure does not cap increases, it does strengthen the city’s process for reviewing rent increases of more than 5%, limits evictions and requires landlords to help pay a tenant’s moving costs for no-fault evictions.

Under the new rule, any landlord who raises rent more than 5% must initiate a review by a city committee, and mediation and binding arbitration must take place if both sides cannot reach agreement, according to the council. Tenants can also ask for the committee’s help if they are facing a rent increase of less than 5%.

Under the new protections, landlords can only increase the rent once a year and are now required to provide relocation assistance for tenants facing a “no cause” or “no fault” eviction, such as an owner or relative move-in eviction. Due to state law, all new requirements only apply to multifamily rental units built before February 1995. The new measure will sunset on Dec. 31, 2019.

Many mom-and-pop landlords called on the council to reject the ordinance, saying the restrictions could prevent them from earning enough money to maintain their properties. Councilman Tony Daysog proposed a small-owner exemption for those owners with five or fewer units. But his fellow councilmembers rejected that proposal.

Section 8 Renter Protections Proposed

A bill to make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against people with Section 8 housing vouchers was recently introduced in the California Senate. If passed, landlords could no longer reject potential tenants based solely on their source of income, or advertise that they don’t take Section 8.

Landlords would still have the right to reject potential tenants based on credit and criminal history, according to the bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). The bill would not force owners to accept Section 8, but it would allow them to be named in a discrimination complaint if they use source of income as the sole reason to reject a tenant.

About 300,000 Californians receive Section 8 rental assistance. They contribute 30% of their income to the rent on a fair market value unit, and the federal government picks up the rest.

Affordable Housing Exemption Passed

The Board of Supervisors passed legislation to make projects that are 100% affordable exempt from the “conditional use” approval process. The legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Scott Wiener, was controversial, with opponents concerned it would bypass the public’s right to comment.

In advance of the board vote, Wiener placed the measure on the June ballot 
in case his colleagues voted it down.

He needn’t have worried; it ended up passing 10-1.

Developments are subject to the conditional-use process to show that they are necessary and desirable. Since most people would agree that affordable housing is both, Wiener said that process is unnecessary. He further argued that eliminating the process could speed up the creation of 100% affordable developments by three to six months.

Bonus Building Program Will Exempt Projects That Demolish Units

City planners have further amended elements of a proposed program that aims to incentivize more below-market-rate housing in new developments in San Francisco by recommending that the program exempt projects that demolish any residential units. That change and others to the Affordable Housing Bonus Program were made following a San Francisco Planning Commission meeting in which commissioners asked for more clarification on the program and opponents 
expressed concerns that incentivizing developers could lead to displacement.

The program provides incentives for developers of projects with at least five units, primarily in areas zoned as neighborhood commercial districts, to build at least 30% of the units as below market rate.

In return, developers can build up to two additional stories, as well as receive other incentives.

The program would apply to more than 30,000 parcels. City planners have estimated that even if projects that remove housing units are exempt from the bonus, the program could still add 5,000 below-market-rate homes to San Francisco’s housing stock in the next two decades. Projects that would have removed any rent controlled homes from the market were already exempt prior to the latest changes, as well as those that demolish a historic structure or cause significant shadow impacts on public parks.

Affordable Housing in Candlestick Point Approved

Affordable housing developments for low-income and formerly homeless families will be built at Candlestick Point. The city’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure approved two affordable housing developments that would have a total of 290 units on key parcels at the site of the former Candlestick stadium, according to the Mayor’s Office. “This is another great step forward to meet my aggressive goal of delivering 10,000 affordable units by 2020, so that San Francisco remains home to our many diverse families,” Mayor Ed Lee said.

The rental units will be permanently affordable for qualifying households, with incomes at or lower than 60% of area median income. Just under 60 of those units will be set aside for formerly homeless families, with at least 10 of those units reserved for young parents between 18 and 24 years old who are transitioning out of foster care, juvenile justice systems or homelessness.

The new housing developments are made possible by funding from Senate Bill 107, which passed in 2015 and resulted in the city being awarded $500 million for the construction of affordable housing. The funds are helping accelerate the delivery of 3,300 affordable units to be built at Candlestick Point, Hunters Point Shipyard, Transbay and Mission Bay. Later this year, the city plans to release requests for proposals for additional affordable housing developments to be constructed at Hunters Point Shipyard and Mission Bay, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Future plans for the 280-acre Candlestick Point neighborhood include the rebuilding of the Alice Griffith public housing development, the renovation of the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, as well as multiple new transit routes, open space and community facilities for residents in the area.