The News

Rent Relief Debrief

Rental property owners can now apply for rent relief on behalf of tenants—with their permission.

Editor’s Note: state and federal guidelines and legislation are constantly changing regarding COVID-19. For the latest information, resources, financial aid, and forms, visit www.sfaa.org or www.caanet.org/coronavirus.

The Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Fund includes $25 billion for emergency rental assistance. As planned, these funds will be distributed to states and local governments by January 26, 2021. Local governments will then have until the end of the year to distribute the funds.

Households that qualify for this financial relief have a household income of no more than 80% of the area median income; have at least one resident who qualifies for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income due to COVID-19; have at least one resident who can demonstrate a risk for homelessness through a past-due utility bill or eviction notice, or unsafe or unhealthy living conditions. Priority will be given to households with a total income of less than 50% the area median income or with at least one resident who has been unemployed for 90 days or more.

Landlords can apply for this financial assistance on behalf of their residents, with the residents’ knowledge and consent in the form of a signed application. The landlord will also need resident cooperation to provide the necessary information and documents to prove eligibility.

The ordinance specifies that the funds be paid directly to the landlord or utility provider, on behalf of the household.

For more information, visit caanet.org.

Housing Legislation in the Pipeline
SB 6, authored by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), is a revision of the previously proposed Neighborhoods Homes Act. The bill, written in response to continually increasing commercial vacancies, would override local prohibitions on residential uses on properties within any commercial zone to streamline walkable infill housing developments.

According to Senator Caballero, her vision for SB 6 is to support “neighborhoods where you can live shop, take care of your banking or insurance needs all within walking distance. Creating a walkable community that is affordable.”

SB 9, also known as The California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, would streamline the process for new housing units while maintaining local control and preserving neighborhood character. It would allow homeowners to create a duplex or subdivide existing lots in residential areas throughout the state.

SB 10, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would allow local governments to streamline upzoning for qualified parcels for up to 10-unit residential buildings. To qualify, projects must be in job-and-transit-rich areas, meaning locations that would allow shorter commutes or are within a half mile of a major transit stop. These projects would still be subject to the California Environmental Quality Act.

This bill is a revision of Senator Wiener’s SB 902 from last year. “SB 10 provides cities with a powerful, fast, and effective tool to allow light-touch density exactly where it should be: near jobs, near public transportation, and in existing urbanized area. SB 10 will help move California away from a sprawl-based housing policy and toward a more sustainable, equitable and effective housing policy,” Wiener said in a statement.

SB 30, also known as the Building Decarbonization package, was authored by new Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose). The bill would require that new state buildings have zero emissions as of 2022 and that all state properties reach carbon-neutrality by 2035. The state would also divest in non-carbon neutral projects by 2023.

Annual Fire Disclosures
Annually before or on January 31, building owners must provide tenants with a fire safety information disclosure, a fire safety tips and training video, smoke alarm information disclosure, and a list of tenants’ rights organizations.

The San Francisco Fire Department is ready to help building owners comply with these regulations. The necessary forms, examples of information disclosures, sample letters, detailed instructions, and other helpful information can be found—in multiple languages—at sf-fire.gov.org

Property Taxes—Informal Review Request
If you believe your property assessed value is higher than market value, you can request an Informal Assessment Review by no later than March 31, 2021. This review request applies to single family dwellings, residential condominiums, townhouses, live-work lofts, and cooperative units. Submit requests online (preferable) or by mail to the Assessor-Recorder’s Office, Attn: Informal Review. For more information and instructions, visit sfassessor.org or email InformalReviewRP@sfgov.org.

Price-Gouging Protections Extended
Protections against price gouging, including rent increases over 10%, have been extended until the end of 2021 in several counties ravaged by wildfires.

The extended protections apply to the counties of Los Angeles, Butte, Mendicino, Napa, Ventura and Sonoma, which saw fires between 2017 and 2019.

Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the extensions on December 30, saying the counties are still recovering from the fires. He said, “Many rebuilding permits for homes damaged or destroyed by the wildfires have not yet been submitted, much less approved.”

Besides this county-specific order, statewide protections against price gouging remain in place through March 4, 2021, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A different wildfire-related ban on price gouging also is in effect statewide through February 14, 2021.

The protections imposed by Newsom’s executive orders trigger Penal Code Section 396, which makes it illegal to increase the price of many consumer goods and services, including that of rental housing, by over 10% above pre-emergency levels.

Anyone convicted of violating the state anti-price-gouging law can face a year in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, as well as civil penalties. Local ordinances may impose additional penalties.

This content was provided by the California Apartment Association.

SFAA Updates
The SFAA 2021 lease is now available in print and online. To access the lease, visit www.sfaa.org. For details on how this new lease was updated, turn to the Board Report by Eric Andresen on page 12. 

Rent Board Fee: The Rent Board fee is billed to the landlord each year on the property tax statement, and the law permits the landlord to collect a portion of the Rent Board fee from those tenants in occupancy as of November 1 of each year. For the 2020-2021 tax year, the rental unit fee is $50.00 per apartment unit and $25.00 per residential hotel room. The landlord may collect 50% of the fee from tenants, which is $25.00 per apartment unit and $12.50 per residential hotel room.

As SFAA pivots to provide you services during the pandemic, there is a new way to connect with SFAA. Email MemberQuestions@sfaa.org to have your questions and concerns promptly addressed. While the SFAA office is closed, SFAA staff is working round-the-clock to keep the nonprofit running. Timely payment of membership dues is necessary to help the association help you.

SFAA classes will be available online during shelter-in-place. The San Francisco Apartment Association is happy to announce that current CCRM students can continue their education during the pandemic right from home. We understand keeping up with education is crucial and want to assist our members to stay up to date. Thus we will be setting up more webinars in the future. See the calendar on page 42 for a full list of classes.