Proposition 10 will be on the ballot this November Proposition 10, known as the Affordable Housing Act, will be on California’s state ballot this November 6. What is Prop 10 and why should you care about it? Well, Prop 10 seeks to repeal one of the most draconian housing laws ever enacted in California, namely the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act.
If Prop 10 passes, cities and counties in California will be able to design tenant protections tailored to their specific housing stock and local rental market. This could be a huge change, because local governments and voters have been hamstrung by a restrictive state law that has curtailed tenant rights since 1995. Here's what you need to know:
Costa Hawkins restricts the types of rent control laws that California cities are allowed to enact. It has three main effects:
Landlords love this law. In fact, they wrote it. Beginning in the late 1970s, the real estate industry began lobbying Sacramento for statewide restrictions to limit the power of renters, who are more organized on the city level. Finally, in 1995, the state legislature pushed through Costa-Hawkins. Due to ferocious industry support of the bill, it’s long been seen as untouchable. But with an unprecedented affordability crisis now touching every corner of our state, there is real momentum to repeal Costa-Hawkins.
Costa-Hawkins enshrines vacancy de-control, which perversely incentivizes landlords to force out long-term tenants in order to levy almost unlimited rent increases.
Here’s a common worst-case scenario under Costa Hawkins. Let’s say Jim moves into a unit in 1985. Under San Francisco’s rent control laws, Jim receives reasonable increases each year. He’s a model tenant and always pays on time. In 1997, Jim marries Susan, who is the parent of a young disabled child. The small family thrives together in Jim’s rental unit, until Jim passes away in 2017.
Because Costa-Hawkins does not recognize Susan and her child as “original occupants,” Jim’s widow and child can receive a rent increase to market rate within just sixty days of his death. This means that rent for their two-bedroom San Francisco apartment might go from $900 per month to $4,000 -- and the grieving family has only sixty days to come up with the money or find new housing. What’s more, “market rent” isn’t defined, so landlords will frequently raise long-time tenants’ rent to outrageous sums in order to force them out and renovate the unit.
Sadly, situations just like this are all too common in San Francisco today. In addition to these unfair loopholes, Costa-Hawkins worsens the affordability crisis by prohibiting cities from expanding or even maintaining their stock of rent-controlled housing. Advocates report that Los Angeles is losing 5.5 rent-controlled units every day. In San Francisco, the percentage of units covered by rent control has declined from 92% in 1979 to only 69% today.
Finally, Costa-Hawkins’ exemption of single family homes and condos was meant to protect “mom-and-pop” landlords. But today, tens of thousands of single family homes and condos in California are owned by Wall Street investment firms and corporate “mega-landlords,” who lean on Costa-Hawkins to extract maximum profits from their tenants.
Want to know just how valuable Prop 10 could be to California’s renters? Just look at the how much landlords are willing to spend to oppose the measure. As of this August, the No on 10 campaign had banked well over $20 million in cash. In the coming months, they’ll be using those funds to blast voters with ads that claim that Prop 10 will somehow make our state’s housing more expensive. (Local housing guru Randy Shaw demolishes their falsehoods here.)
Can you tell we’re riled up about this? We hope you will be, too! If you’d like to get involved in the Yes on 10 campaign to support Californians’ right to rent control, start at voteyesonprop10.org.
Recovered on behalf of a group of 30 tenants living in an SRO in San Francisco who were living with horrendous conditions in their rent controlled apartments, including rodents, bedbugs, mold, water leaks and harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three families living in a building in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood who were forced to live with substandard conditions for years as a result of their landlord’s negligence, including issues with lack of heat, lack of hot water and cockroach/rat infestations.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a couple living in a rent-controlled home in the outer Sunset neighborhood. Our clients were forced to vacate after the landlord served them with an Owner Move-In Eviction Notice. After the landlords failed to move into the property, our clients filed suit for wrongful eviction.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant in Russian Hill. Tenant was forced to vacate her illegal apartment in retaliation for reporting unlawful rent increases to the San Francisco Rent Board.Read More
Recovered for a single long-term tenant in San Francisco. Our client was forced to move out of his apartment as a result of extreme landlord harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three long-term tenants in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood who were constructively evicted due to noise and nuisance conditions created by their downstairs neighbors, which the owner refused to address.Read More
Recovered on behalf of elderly, disabled tenant who was forced to move out of her rent-controlled San Francisco apartment of 50 years after landlord/owner failed to resolve numerous building code violations that remained outstanding for over a decade.Read More
Recovered on behalf of seven tenants living in a makeshift boarding house in East Palo Alto.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two former San Francisco tenants who were evicted via an Owner Move-In Eviction and owner failed to occupy the unit as her primary place of residence.Read More
Recovered on behalf of an elderly long-term tenant who was forced to vacate her long San Francisco apartment as a result of her landlord’s refusal to address longstanding defective conditions, including lack of heat, mold, rodent infestations, and defective plumbing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant who was forced to vacate his home as a result of ongoing, disruptive construction and the owners’ refusal to provide him with alternative housing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco family that was constructively evicted from their home in the Richmond District as a result of unlawful rent increases, defective conditions and tenant harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a tenant living in an illegal “in-law” unit. In this case, a new owner purchased the building and then demolished our client’s unit without permits while she was displaced for seismic retrofitting.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two long term San Francisco tenants who were fraudulently evicted from their home of over twenty years under the pretext of an owner move-in eviction.Read More
Recovered for tenant who was injured when their stairway railing collapsed at the tenant’s Mission District apartment building.Read More
Recovered in action for a group of tenants forced to vacate their San Francisco apartment house due to severe habitability defects including mold and water leaks.Read More
One of the most common questions we get from tenants is - what happens when my landlord sells my building? Tenants, understandably, want to know what their rights are if Continue Reading
Like any narrow corner of the internet, the world of landlord-tenant law is filled with its own language, terms and a variety of explanations, many, sadly, filled with inaccuracies. In Continue Reading
Wrongful evictions happen far too often in San Francisco. The sad reality is that many tenants who are forced out of their homes illegally aren’t even aware that their landlord Continue Reading
With rising costs everywhere right now, many renters are looking to cut costs wherever they can. However, it is important not to drop your renter’s insurance. Though this can be Continue Reading
San Francisco has its own rent laws in addition to tenant protections under California state law. At Wolford Wayne LLP, we help tenants in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley who Continue Reading
Meeting with a lawyer can be intimidating - especially if you have never had to deal with legal issues before. Understanding how a consultation works can help you feel more Continue Reading
For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.