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San Francisco County, CA June 8, 2010 Election
Proposition F
Renters' Financial Hardship Applications
San Francisco County

Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Fail: 62239 / 42.25% Yes votes ...... 85071 / 57.75% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Information shown below: Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the City amend its Residential Rent Ordinance to add provisions for tenants to apply to the Rent Board to postpone most rent increases if they become unemployed, their wages decrease by 20% or more, or they do not receive a cost of living increase in their government benefits and those benefits are their sole income?

Fiscal Impact from the City Controller:
City Controller Ben Rosenfield has issued the following statement on the fiscal impact of Proposition F: Should the proposed ordinance be approved by the voters, in my opinion, it would have a minimal impact on the cost of government.

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
If you vote "yes," you want to amend the Ordinance to allow tenants to apply to the Rent Board to postpone most rent increases if they become unemployed, their wages decrease by 20% or more, or they do not receive a cost of living increase in their government benefits and this is their sole income.

A NO vote on this measure means:
If you vote "no," you do not want to make these changes.

Impartial Analysis from the Ballot Simplification Committee
The Way It Is Now: The City's Residential Rent Ordinance (Ordinance) applies to most rental housing built before June 1979. The Ordinance limits when and by how much a landlord may increase a tenant's rent. For example, landlords may increase rent once a year by a percentage set by the Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board (Rent Board).

In addition, landlords may increase rents to pay for certain property improvements and some increases in the property tax. A tenant may file a hardship application with the Rent Board to seek to limit some of these increases.

The Proposal: Proposition F would amend the Ordinance to add provisions for hardship applications. In response to most rent increases, a tenant may submit a financial hardship application if one of the following conditions applies:

  • the tenant has become unemployed;

  • the tenant's wages have been reduced by 20% or more compared to the previous 12 months; or

  • the tenant's sole income consists of government benefits, such as Social Security or disability, and the tenant has not received a cost of living increase in the previous 12 months.

After the tenant submits a financial hardship application to the Rent Board, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) holds a hearing on the application.

The ALJ would base a final decision on:

  • whether the tenant satisfies one of the above conditions;

  • whether the rent, with the increase, totals more than 33% of the tenant's income; and

  • consideration of the tenant's assets.

If the ALJ finds that the tenant has a financial hardship, the landlord may not increase the tenant's rent for a specified period based on the tenant's circumstances. The rent increase may take effect later if the tenant's financial circumstances change. Either the tenant or the landlord may appeal the ALJ's decision to the Rent Board.

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Arguments For Proposition F Arguments Against Proposition F
Proposition F is a modest change to our current rent laws that allows tenants to temporarily postpone new rent increases during tough economic times.

San Francisco rents, already the highest in the country, soared during the speculative frenzy of the real estate bubble. Apartment buildings were bought and sold at record rates by real estate investors funded with Wall Street money. With each sale, the new landlord would significantly increase rents on vacant units and then try to force out tenants in rent-controlled units. From 2005 to 2010, rents on 2 bedroom apartments soared by over 50%, from just under $2,000 to nearly $3,000.

When the real estate bubble burst, rents did not come down but incomes did. When the excesses of real estate speculation forced the economy into a tailspin, San Francisco found itself with an unemployment rate of over 10% and tens of thousands more renters were forced into part-time work. And, many senior renters living on Social Security found out they would not get a cost of living increase on their already-meager benefits. Thus, renters were left trying to pay extraordinarily high rents while seeing their income disappear or get slashed.

Much attention has been focused on keeping homeowners in their homes. We need to pay the same attention to the plight of renters who can barely pay their rents and who would lose their homes if their rents increase further. Proposition F will let renters who have lost their job or had their pay cut significantly to temporarily postpone any new rent increases.

Vote YES on Prop F.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu Sup. John Avalos Sup. David Campos Sup. Chris Daly Sup. Eric Mar Sup. Ross Mirkarimi

Rebuttal to Arguments For
No Rebuttal to Proponent's Argument in Favor of Proposition F was Submitted

Prop F is a bad policy that is poorly drafted. It poses risks to those it seeks to protect while providing benefits to those who do not need them.

The unintended, but very real, consequences of Prop F outweigh the good intentions of the proposal. Prop F will prove to be a burden for renters and landlords alike.

Prop F Poses Risks for Low Income Renters

Prop F will undermine existing hardship policies and will hurt those who most need financial relief.

Prop F will increase the requirements for those applying for hardship relief, and will put some tenants at higher risk for eviction

Prop F Will Result in Higher Rents

Prop F will lead landlords to increase rents on vacant units in order to recoup losses on other units protected from rent increases.

Prop F will lead landlords to pass on these increased costs to new tenants. The risk is greatest for unemployed workers who will need to find lower cost housing because of their lost income.

Prop F imposes new restrictions on landlords at the same time the City is instituting costly environmental programs, including energy efficiency requirements and mandatory recycling.

Prop F Will Protect Higher Income Renters

Prop F is a poorly written proposal that creates loopholes in the existing law.

Prop F will protect renters whose income has dropped twenty percent, including those whose income has declined from $200,000 to $150,000.

Voters should be aware of the unintended consequences of this proposal.

Please join us and vote NO on Prop F

Supervisor Sean R. Elsbernd Supervisor Carmen Chu

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Prop F is a measured response to a real crisis caused by the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Tenants who have lost their jobs or seen their wages cut simply cannot afford to pay an increase in their already high rent. Prop F does what any decent landlord would do anyway: give a tenant who's struggling financially a break. Any good landlord would --on their own --hold off on giving a rent increase to someone who's just lost their job.

Rent Control currently has some provisions to let tenants postpone some --but not all --rent increases due to financial hardship. But these are inadequate to deal with the crisis we face today. Prop F adds a new provision for hardship --on top of the others --specifically designed for renters who have been hardest hit by the recession. It applies to all rent increases and ensures that tenants facing financial hardship due to the recession will get rent increases postponed.

Sups. Chu and Elsbernd --who always vote against rent control --would have you believe that this measure will hurt tenants. But why are they and the landlords so vehemently fighting it? Do not believe their false and misleading claims.

Prop F is fair and simple: If you lost your job, had wages cut or did not see government benefits increase and are paying more than 33% of your income to rent, you can get rent increases postponed.

See for more on Prop F YES on F. San Francisco Tenants Union

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Created: August 20, 2010 21:43 PDT
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