This November, Proposition 10 could make rents more affordable for Hayward, and other California residents by changing rent control limits.
In 2015, across California, almost half of all households had unaffordable housing costs. More than 1 in 5 households statewide have to pay more than half their income toward housing expenses. Renters in California pay 50-percent more than the national average, and only 20 percent of Californians live in cities with rent control, according to the California Budget and Policy Center.
The Spectator conducted an anonymous survey of Chabot students, on the topic of landlords, rent control and expectations of rent increases. One student said, “Housing is a human right, property ownership is not. Moreover, in no other industry is there an expectation of Return On Investment that compares to property owners’ expectation of ROI. We should be resetting the narrative for a more reasonable definition of ‘fair return on investment.’”
But does it reflect “fairness” in terms of setting the value for current residents to afford versus investing an amount most cannot afford; on the basis that someone else could afford it?
According to our poll, almost 20-percent of students pay 60-percent or more of their monthly income on housing.
Prop 10 will not change existing rent control laws, it would allow cities and counties to regulate rents without limit to what type of building it is, or when it was built. It also keeps the landlord’s right to a fair rate of return on their investment.
According to the California Budget and Policy Center, households paying more than 30-percent of their income toward housing are categorized as “cost-burdened.” Those with housing costs that exceed half their income then become “severely” cost-burdened.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan voter education group summarizes the effects of Prop 10, “If passed, it would repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Act, which was adopted in 1995, this allowed rent controls to be lifted from single-family homes and buildings of 1995 and later. Landlords could also raise the rent to market rates if a tenant left the rental property.”
When asked if Prop 10 will enforce rent control, Hayward City Councilwoman Sara Lamnin said, “It will depend on what the city decides to do, Prop 10 doesn’t enforce any changes, but it does give Hayward more freedom to set policy.”
Currently, if your home is covered by rent control in Hayward, your rent cannot exceed a five percent increase in a 12 month period. However, if your rent has not increased in several years, the landlord may “bank” those increases, and make the next increase greater than five percent.
So what are the effects? David Stark, Public Affairs Director Bay East Association of Realtors, explains “Expanding rent control to apply to single-family homes and condominiums could compel property owners to sell their rental units — effectively reducing the supply of rental housing and making rental housing even more expensive. Hayward is the only city in southern and eastern Alameda County with a rent control ordinance. Since there are no other communities with rent control it’s impossible to determine what impact it may or may not have.”
As of now, a fair return is defined in parameters of dollar amount reflecting money put into the building.
“The constitutional right to a fair return exists so that landlords are able to turn a profit on their rental properties,” states Sarah M. Winfield.
“It’s a Statewide problem, and someone needs to enforce the city ordinances. Supposedly we have rent control, but if no one makes landlords follow city policy, what good is it?” Marquez continued, “I won my case against the city, but I was the first person in the county to take it that far. It’s not an easy process, I think Prop 10 is going to be crucial for most people to afford to live in the bay area.” Gina Marquez, Chabot student, and San Leandro resident said. Marquez has been fighting the county on their practices related to rent and rent control.
“In Hayward, having rent control versus not, often means being able to stay in one’s community versus being displaced. This is especially true at this time because Hayward is developing, and gentrification is beginning to reach Hayward.” says, Sarah M. Winfield Staff Attorney, Tenants’ Rights Program, Centro Legal de la Raza.
Sarah continued “Improving rent control or expanding it would protect my clients, who are all low-income and mostly people of color, from displacement from their homes and the Bay Area.”
Marquez states, “In Castro Valley, many tenants have complained of astronomical rent increases of $400 and above. Majority of tenants are served improperly because they are unfamiliar with The Alameda County Renters Ordinance. Politicians are in denial that landlords are violating rules and laws, therefore, the massive rent increases result in displacement, homelessness and the vicious homeless shelter cycle.”
Marquez continued, “People, like my neighbor, on fixed incomes in their 80s shouldn’t have to face eviction and all that entails because landlords are greedy.”
At Solis Gardens of Hayward, Kathleen Souza, the 69-year-old tenant moved out after receiving a rent increase of 135 percent for her studio apartment, from $700 to $1,650 without utilities included, as mentioned in a previous issue of The Spectator.
According to California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, almost $26 million has been contributed to advertising in support of this proposition (voting yes) and about $75 million has been contributed to advertising in opposition of this proposition (voting no). That’s a difference of almost $50 million in support of voting No. Draw your own conclusions about advertising.
In Hayward, a few families argued that rent control is what allowed their family to inhabit their apartment during an unlawful eviction. Due to litigation in process, they chose to remain anonymous.
If you currently have problems with your rent policies, your landlord, or other items related to the city, there is help. For city and community resources 211.org, or dialing 211 could be your refuge. This is a free and confidential service designed to help people find local resources. Most importantly, if this issue affects you or someone you know, vote!