Statement on Vacancy Decontrol

RE: Consider Recommendations to the City Council Regarding Vacancy Decontrol Provisions within the Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance

Dear Councilmembers Lamnin, Salinas, and Wahab,

On February 5, 2018, The Hayward Collective submitted three solutions in support of Hayward tenants experiencing displacement and astronomical rent increases. The very first solution on that letter was to “Remove ‘Vacancy Decontrol’ (Section 8) from Hayward’s Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance (pgs. 16­-20).”

It should come as no surprise that regarding the Staff Report and full report from Management Partners, we support the complete removal of the Vacancy Decontrol provisions of the Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

At the February 19, 2019, Hayward City Council meeting; Councilmembers Salinas and Wahab both supported the removal of the Vacancy Decontrol provisions. We hope your positions have not since changed, and that you will support bringing the removal of those provisions to the full council.

A reading of the report from Management Partners validates many of the points we have been making for well over a year now.

“The current ordinance and its vacancy decontrol provisions provide no clear policy objective, such as rent stabilization or improving habitability. Similarly, it offers little to no benefit to tenants renting units years after the decontrol improvements were made.”

Page 3, Vacancy Decontrol Ordinance and Process Review, May 2019, Management Partners

One piece we find very troubling in the context of the history of the Hayward Vacancy Decontrol provisions is that the original decontrol threshold was a mere $200 (see Attachment I). How many units were decontrolled for so little “investment” in the unit?

We also know the some of the very properties cited as points of concern were not even properly maintained prior to the establishment of the original Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance in 1979 (see Attachment II). It is poor management that leads to issues of habitability. Not rent control.

Given our position that council remove, in its entirety, “Vacancy Decontrol” (Section 8) from Hayward’s Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance, we do not support any of Management Partners recommendations pertaining to the improvement of the Vacancy Decontrol process. It is a process that historically did not serve this community, and has no bearing on improving or maintaining habitability.

We do support:

  • Recommendation 4: a cost/recovery fee study, which we understand is already underway.

    • We are concerned about implementation of future fees and look forward to hearing how the city will track and monitor the pass-throughs to ensure landlords are compliant regarding the 50% pass-through threshold.

  • Recommendation 5: Outreach efforts to property managers and owners

    • We also understand and appreciate that more active outreach to tenants will be included as well

  • Recommendation 6: Develop a fine or penalty for failing to provide proper notice of tenant rights at the beginning of tenancy

  • Recommendation 12: Enhance the online presence regarding rent stabilization on the City’s website with more comprehensive, updated and easy-to-understand information in one location.

  • Recommendation 22: Establish a comprehensive set of housing policies that equitably address affordability and the needs of tenants and property owners.

    • We acknowledge the current policy proposals are perceived as being comprehensive housing policies, however the report clearly indicates the City of Hayward needs to play a more active role in the administration of its rent stabilization policies. We don’t feel the Binding Arbitration alone is proactive enough. We maintain that clear rent caps, and an active program is a more equitable route in facilitating understanding and communication between tenants and landlords/property managers as to their respective rights and expectations of operation in the City of Hayward.

Again, we hope the removal of Vacancy Decontrol is still supported by Councilmembers Salinas and Wahab, and we look forward to seeing the removal of the provisions brought to the entire council for a vote.