Hayward Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance
In an earlier alert on Hayward's hastily inked emergency "just cause" eviction ordinance, we promised an update as a more permenant solution took shape. Now that the city has developed a comprehensive package of proposals to protect tenants' rights, we'll highlight key provisions of the Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance (RRSO).
- Mandatory mediation program with binding arbitration;
- Provisions to protect Section 8 voucher holders from discrimination;
- Requirements that landlords file rent increase notices and eviction notices with the City;
- Tenant retaliation protection provisions; and
- Reincorporation of the Just Cause for Tenant Evictions into a single comprehensive housing policy.
Hayward City Council approved the first reading of the ordinance and all indications are it will pass the second reading scheduled on June 25, 2019. If so, it will be the law of the land 30 days later, on July 25.
Hayward's Mandatory Mediation with Binding Arbitration
Arbitration has been a popular tool to improve communication between landlords and tenants. In Hayward, landlords are required to come to the table when contemplated rent increases exceed 5%. This process can last for months, during which time the landlord cannot take any portion of a rent increase.
The city estimates that roughly 9,500 pre-1979 units will be protected, although single-family homes and condominiums are exempted under Costa Hawkins. If there is any good news for owners, Hayward acknowledges the landlord should have sufficient rental income to cover the costs of operation.
Landlords can file a petition to request a rent increase in excess of 5% to obtain a fair return and request pass-throughs of capital improvement costs. When rent increases are deferred, the owner may be able to "bank" the increase. Several rules and exceptions apply.
View Hayward's presentation on the Residential Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance (PDF)
Provisions to Protect Section 8 Voucher Holders
In earlier posts on Section 8 housing, Bornstein Law noted that while current federal and state law doesn’t make it illegal for landlords to deny a tenancy based on Section 8 participation, some municipalities have filled the void. The RRSO would introduce Hayward into a growing club of cities that prevent landlords from rejecting applicants because they are recipients of a housing choice voucher.
We hasten to say that landlords can cite other reasons to deny a tenancy, such as a blemished rental history or credit considerations, and as a sidebar, legislation to prohibit discrimination against Section 8 tenants statewide is gaining traction. Whenever a tenancy is denied, landlords are urged to exercise caution - when it comes to this type of communication, less is more.
Filing Rent Increase and Termination Notices with the City
This requirement applies to all rental units in the city
Protections ensuring landlords do not harass or retaliate against tenants
Bornstein Law has always admonished landlords who encounter problematic tenants not to resort to "self-help" eviction measures designed to harass residents and possibly, drive them out through heavy-handed tactics and retake possession of the unit without the carefully choreographed eviction process.
Hayward's tenant retaliation protections has considerable teeth. Tenants are afforded legal rights if he or she is subject to harassment or retaliation, yet it raises the question of what constitutes bad business practices. Although State law is not mute on this subject, the RRSO would define harassment and retaliatory behavior more broadly. If the landlord engages in what Hayward considers bad business practices, the tenant would be entitled to significant civil remedies.
Reincorporate Just Cause for Tenant Evictions
Under the proposed RRSO, just cause eviction protections will be reincorporated into a comprehensive set of housing policies.
Where do we go from here?
The second reading of the new RRSO will take place on June 25, 2019 at 7:00 pm. If passed, city staff will have 30 days to implement the ordinance and notify landlords. The effective date of the RRSO is July 25, 2019. Of course, landlords do not have to wait for the city to keep them apprised of how to operate in a new regulatory regime - for informed advice, contact the Hayward landlord lawyers of Bornstein Law.