Hoedown Throwdown

At this year’s trade show, SFAA members saddled up for free classes, conservation programs and new business.

Every year the SFAA trade show connects San Francisco rental property owners with invaluable education, services, and products. This year, the hoedown-themed trade show was next level, with timely and informative free education classes and vendors there to talk about their services and products. The Fort Mason Center was packed with SFAA associate members, regular members, and local rental property owners there to meet each other, share stories, and stay on top of their game (and the ever-changing local rental-housing laws). SFAA staff and attendees were festive in hoedown attire and free hotdogs were available from Annie’s Hot Dogs and Pretzels on the patio.


Class Pass
When landlord-tenant questions, issues or disputes arise, it’s not always easy to get to the San Francisco Rent Board during business hours. The SFAA trade show is one of the most efficient ways to get dedicated face-time with a Rent Board professional to ask questions and hear answers to questions posed by fellow rental property owners. This year’s Rent Board Q&A was hosted by Greg Miller, and the topics discussed were tenant petitions for decreases in services, a landlord’s responsibility to repair and maintain, capital improvement and fire alarm upgrade passthroughs, and tenant-landlord communication.

Jamie Sanbonmatsu of San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection hosted the next Q&A. He guided property owners on how to achieve successful inspections, as well as common pitfalls to avoid. He touched on topics such as illegal in-law units, wood rot and garbage bin storage. As SFAA members, he also let us know we’re on the right track, “The most responsible landlords in the city are members of the SFAA.”

Next up was Intellirent’s seminar—SFAA’s preferred credit reporting agency. Cassandra Joachim, director of business development, hosted the session. She talked about how San Francisco landlords can increase their efficiency and profitability—without investing a ton of money. And finally, attendees heard from Livable, who talked about how Ratio Billing Systems (RUBS) can save rental property owners money each month while at the same time promoting conservation among tenants.

Building Better Business
The trade show was also a success for SFAA associate members this year. According to Maria Neumann of Water Damage Recovery, her company—a regular sponsor of the trade show—does better every year at the event. “My biggest client came from last year’s trade show. This year, I met boatloads of potential clients, and my phone is already ringing.”

Vendors were there from all over the Bay Area, covering topics like complicated legal situations, the latest project management software, clean energy, and everything in between. San Francisco’s Department of Environment helped property owners navigate Recology’s new compost pilot program, designed to reduce waste and refuse rates; SFPUC talked about their PREP program, which replaces old plumbing fixtures with new, energy-efficient ones, free of charge to the building owner; and the San Francisco Fire Department gave step-by-step instructions to ensure fire safety in small and large buildings alike.

Everyone Wins
The bottom line is, no matter what your role is in San Francisco’s rental housing industry, the SFAA trade show is where to go to learn how to be a responsible landlord and grow your business. “There’s an overwhelming number of tools available to successfully manage rental property in San Francisco. SFAA does an excellent job bringing all of those tools together—in a fun way, to boot,” said Cassandra Joachim.

Maria Shea, Member Services Director at SFAA, said, “In this industry, you always have to prepare for ‘what-if’ scenarios. Our annual trade show is great because our members can connect with one another, building relationships with vendors, so when disaster hits, they’ll have a head start.”

For trade show photos, turn to page 48.

Housing Package with Statewide Rent Control
On March 14, 2019, lawmakers announced a package of rental housing legislation that would cap rent increases statewide and allow local governments to apply rent control to single-family homes and 10-year-old construction. The housing package also includes a “just cause” for eviction measure, as well as a statewide rental registry.

Although lacking detail at present, AB 1482 by Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, will cap annual rent increases based on the rate of inflation plus a yet-to-be-determined figure.  The bill, however, would not supersede existing local rent control laws.

AB 36 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, also is light on detail, however, the author announced that the bill would allow local governments to cap rents on single-family residences and on construction that’s at least 10 years old, while exempting landlords with one or two units.

Such a proposal would weaken California’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits rent controls on units built after 1995. The law also shields single-family homes, individually owned condominiums and townhouses from rent control.

Chiu’s and Bloom’s proposals come after California voters in November resoundingly rejected Proposition 10, the voter initiative that threatened to repeal Costa-Hawkins. Soon after Prop 10’s defeat, Governor Gavin Newsom pledged to broker a compromise on rent control early in his administration, and in his state of the state address, called on lawmakers to craft rent-stabilizing legislation that would not ruin the businesses of small landlords. He also pledged to sign a “good package on rent stability.”

Unfortunately, the proposals could have counterproductive results, especially related to housing production, if the final versions of the bills are too extreme, like last year’s Proposition 10.

“California continues to suffer from an unprecedented housing shortage, and the proposals outlined distract from the solutions,” Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association, said. “Applying rent control statewide and allowing rent caps on single-family homes and newer construction would only worsen our housing shortfall. We need to encourage new housing, not create policies that stifle its creation.”

Interest in rent control has seen a resurgence nationally. In Oregon last month, the governor signed the nation’s first statewide rent control law, capping annual rent increases at 7% plus the annual change in consumer price index. The Illinois Legislature, meanwhile, is considering legislation that would repeal the state’s 1997 ban on rent control. But in California, the voters have spoken.

“In November, California voters sent a clear message against expanded rent control,” Bannon said. “It’s time that lawmakers heed the will of voters and focus on policies that would create the homes that California’s working families need.”

In addition to rent control, the housing package includes legislation that would regulate evictions and require landlords to submit data to the state each year.

The just-cause eviction bill, AB 1481, comes from Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland. The bill will bar landlords from evicting tenants without first demonstrating a “just-cause.” Such measures, which exist in a number of California cities, make it more difficult and costly to evict bad tenants. Bonta authored a similar bill last year, however, it died on the Assembly floor amid opposition from CAA and its allies.

The rental registry bill, AB 724 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, would require landlords to report annually on data including the units they own, how much rent they collect, and data on evictions, the press release says.

(To find out what this could mean for California rental property owners, turn to the sidebar on page 10.)

The above content was written by Deborah Carlton, Senior Vice President of State Public Affairs at the California Apartment Association.