News and Views

Not only are the roads getting crowded but so is the demand for housing. Cheap apartments are getting harder to find, as more and more people are looking to rent instead of buy. We’re becoming a nation of renters. The national rental search company RentCafe says in the decade after 2006, the number of renters increased by more than 23 million. That’s while fewer than 700,000 Americans became new homeowners. Almost a quarter of America’s cities changed from homeowner-majority to renter-majority. And some of the most dramatic changes were here in the Bay Area.
  • Rent increases
The national average U.S. multifamily rent rose by $1 in January 2018, to $1,368, matching the national average rent recorded in July 2017 by Yardi Matrix’s Matrix Monthly report. Rents rose 2.8% year over year (YOY) at the national level through January, a 20-basis-point jump from December 2018.
  • Rent increases
Bay Area renters hit with high prices and few choices last year may be in for more of the same in 2018. Rates for one- and two-bedroom apartments in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose last year stayed among the highest in the nation, according to new market reports. Scarce rentals and a robust local economy marked by steady tech hiring drove up Santa Clara County prices 3.2 percent from a year ago, according to real estate data firm Yardi Matrix.
  • Rent increases
Dale Duncan is trying to be a nice guy. He’s trying real, real hard. But, sometimes, it’s just too much. Anne Kihagi is just too much. And not just sometimes. “I’m not a big schadenfreude guy,” says the former Kihagi tenant who, last year, won a $3.5 million ruling against his erstwhile landlord after a fraudulent eviction from his family’s longtime Mission District flat — purportedly the largest such judgment in state history. “But,” he continues after a thoughtful pause, “It’s hard not to feel some schadenfreude right now.”
  • Retaliation/harassment
  • San Francisco
Rent control, long the scourge of New York City landlords, is becoming more popular across the country. Lawmakers and tenant advocates in California, Illinois and Washington state are looking to repeal laws banning cities from imposing rent control or limits to regulate rent increases, the Wall Street Journal reported. California is poised to be the largest battleground this year. Advocates have gathered 100,000 of the roughly 365,000 signatures required to put a measure on the ballot in November to repeal a 20-year-old law that put statewide limits on rent control.
  • Rent control
After garnering more than 100,000 signatures within the last month, the initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act — a 1995 state law that limits the scope of local rent control ordinances — is likely to appear on November’s ballot. The Costa-Hawkins Act prohibits cities from establishing rent control on certain units, including single-family dwellings, condominiums and housing built after 1995. It also has a “vacancy decontrol” provision that allows rent to increase after a tenant moves out.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
San Diego is the 10th most expensive city in the United States for renters, with a one-bedroom apartment renting for an average of $1,710 per month in February, according to a new report. The report by Zumper, a national online apartment and home rental marketplace, also ranked San Diego as the fifth most expensive city for renters in California. San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Oakland all had higher rental rates as February began. The one-bedroom rental rate in San Diego in February was 6.9 percent higher than a year ago.
  • Rent increases
  • San Diego
Chaos erupts after a measure that would have strengthened rent control failed to pass the State Assembly Housing Committee three weeks ago -- a major setback for tenants in the midst of the housing crisis. Dozens of those protesters live in buildings owned by the largest landlord in San Francisco, Veritas Investments. I-Team Reporter Dan Noyes has been investigating complaints about the company.
  • Rent increases
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • San Francisco
Los Angeles rental prices went nowhere in January, remaining exactly where they were a month before, according to a new report from Apartment List. Citywide, the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $1,340 per month, while two-bedroom rentals fetch $1,730. Rents have shot up four percent since this time last year, says the report, but prices have actually dropped off a bit since August, when they hit $1,350 for a one-bedroom and $1,740 for two-bedroom units.
  • Rent increases
  • Los Angeles
Nearly all the cities and counties in California — 97.6 percent — are failing to approve the housing needed to keep pace with population growth and will be subject to a new law that aims to fast-track development, according to a report released by the state Thursday.
  • Affordable housing
Homes were already scarce and rents were skyrocketing in the county’s second largest city before deadly fires destroyed more than 5,000 homes in surrounding municipalities. Housing advocates, exasperated at what they views as a lack of city leadership on the issue, have attended several city council meetings since the October firestorm to plead with elected officials for more action on the housing crisis. The city will hold its first public forum about housing solutions Feb. 12, more than four months after the disaster.
  • Affordable housing
  • Sonoma
Life is somewhere between hard and heartbreak for the majority-Latino tenants remaining in The Melrose apartments, where residents of 40 of its 72 units are facing an eviction deadline of Feb. 1. This is the latest, and probably the final, wave of no-cause evictions at the apartment complex, where tenant rights have gone head-to-head against its ownership for the past year.
  • Beyond California
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
One snowy winter day, after standing at his restaurant job washing dishes, Jinlong Chen came home to the apartment that he and his wife shared with several other families on Beach Street in Boston’s Chinatown. He opened the door to their room to find water and debris everywhere. Part of the ceiling had collapsed.
  • Beyond California
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
The building located at 800 Traction Avenue in Los Angeles’ Arts District is five stories, made of brick and concrete. Built in 1918 and designed by the same architect who created LA's City Hall, it was a warehouse for coffee and spices for decades. Then, in the 1980s and 1990s, artists looking for big work spaces and cheap rents discovered the building and started moving in. One of them was photographer Jamie Itigaki, who moved to 800 Traction in 1996 when the surrounding neighborhood was still considered too sketchy for many Angelenos.
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
  • Los Angeles
When all of my belongings were in storage and I was living out of the second-bedroom of my best friend’s apartment while her son was off at college –unless you knew my situation you had no idea that I was homeless–but I was. That’s why I can tell you now, that although the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count just got underway, the count is going to be woefully inaccurate and the full magnitude of the crisis underreported if we just focus on the homeless that we can see.
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
  • Los Angeles
Tenant advocacy groups are expected to submit 20,000 signatures to the San Francisco Department of Elections today to put a measure on the June ballot to give legal counsel to all renters in the city facing eviction, organizers said. If the measure passes in the June 5 election, San Francisco would be the first city in California to provide such representation. "This is history," Jon Golinger, campaign advisor for the No Eviction Without Representation Initiative, said. "This will be a model for other cities."
  • Civil Gideon
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
A federal judge in Maryland ruled Friday that Jared Kushner’s family real estate company could not keep secret the identities of its partners in Baltimore-area apartment complexes that are the subject of a class-action lawsuit by tenants. The class-action lawsuit was filed in September, following a May article co-published by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine that described how Kushner Companies have used highly aggressive tactics in pursuing payments from tenants and former tenants of 15 large apartment complexes it owns and manages in the Baltimore area.
  • Change of ownership/new landlord
You could say the people living at Del Rio Mobile Home Park are living here on borrowed time -- but it's not borrowed. They paid for it. "We're getting treated like squatters, basically," one resident said. Each one of them got an eviction notice at the beginning of January. It gave them five days to get out -- just five days. "This came as a major shock to them -- residents who have been paying rent to this person who has pretended to be the owner. When, in fact, it's actually a sister," said Javier Castro with California Rural Legal Assistance.
  • Eviction
  • San Joaquin
Since being evicted from her apartment in New York’s Bronx neighborhood in September, Areletha McLain and her six young children have crammed into a two-bedroom apartment with five relatives. Their belongings are piled up in a corner and the kids sleep doubled-up in bunks scattered throughout the unit. It is not her first eviction, and they have taken a toll on her children. “When they get comfortable [with a school] and start liking it, that’s when they get taken from it,” she said.
  • Civil Gideon
  • Ellis Act
A new Oakland ordinance requires relocation payments of thousands of dollars to renters evicted by landlords who are moving back to their properties. Passed by the City Council on Jan. 16, the Uniform Relocation Ordinance creates a schedule of relocation payments that will increase every year based on consumer price index fluctuations
  • Eviction
  • Alameda

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