Manhattanization revisited

Is more, taller, and denser housing the answer to San Francisco's affordability crisis?

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The Guardian started writing about "the Manhattanization of San Francisco" more than 40 years ago.
ILLUSTRATION BY LOUIS DUNN FOR SF BAY GUARDIAN, 1971

joe@sfbg.com

The housing crisis is spurring pro-development arguments that threaten to hasten the "Manhattanization of San Francisco," a buzzphrase from another era that led to local controls on high-rise development.

The city is getting richer and less diverse, and the unaddressed displacement of longtime residents has fueled populist outrage. Now, politicians are finally getting the message, but some are offering solutions that may reopen old civic wounds.

They say that the answer to the housing affordability crisis is to build massive amounts of new housing, and to build it higher and more densely than city codes and processes currently allow.

Sup. Scott Wiener wrote a scathing indictment of the city's alleged aversion to housing production in the San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 13, slamming a planning process that he says slows necessary construction.

"This disconnect — saying that we need more housing while arbitrarily finding reasons to kill or water down projects that provide that housing — is having profound effects on our city and its beautiful diversity, economic and otherwise," Wiener wrote.

Though he mentioned affordable housing, the need to build all kinds of housing was the crux of his argument. It's the same kind of developer-friendly rhetoric that whips people into a frenzy with faux common sense: build more, and the market will take care of everyone.

But there are flaws to that simplistic argument. Housing advocates (and Guardian editorials) have long argued that market rate units — the median price of which just surpassed $1 million — don't trickle down to maintain the city's economic diversity. More supply may help, but with insatiable demand for housing here, it won't help much with affordability for the working class.

The next day, Wiener introduced legislation to loosen density requirements when developers build below-market-rate housing units on site, creating an incentive to build more of the units that affordable housing advocates say are most valuable.

"Long term, I'm concerned about young persons that can come here," he told the Guardian. "It's not just about building more housing."

Pushing a pro-development agenda while playing lip service to an affordable housing push is all the rage in San Francisco nowadays, with Mayor Ed Lee calling for building 30,000 new housing units by 2020, supporting the rapid growth calls by SPUR, Housing Action Coalition, and other pro-growth groups.

But Peter Cohen, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, says supply and demand logic doesn't apply to the San Francisco housing market for a number of reasons.

He pointed to a paper by CCHO cohort Calvin Welch, who teaches a class on the politics of housing development at USF and SFSU. Welch cites data from the City Controller's Office showing that when San Francisco increases supply, the market responds by raising the average housing price. Contrary to all the supply and demand claims, when we produce more, things get more expensive.

Why?

"In classic economic theory prices are set by supply and demand only when the market is 'competitive' when neither consumers nor suppliers have the 'market power' to set the price by themselves," Welch wrote. "Clearly, that is not the case in San Francisco...of the City's 47 square miles, only 13 square miles is available for housing uses."

"There is no 'free land' in San Francisco," he wrote. "The owners have total 'market power' over its price."

Comments

Build, Ed, build!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

You guys mean to say that orthodox economic models are great in textbooks but fail to explain the real world? Wow! Tell me something I didn't know. Maybe that's why it's not an actual, you know, "science?"

Seriously though, all sarcasm aside, it's a sad commentary on American life that many people actually do believe these facile economic models can actually tell us something important. It's sad that you need an actual study to reveal how worthless they really are.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

Because classic economic theory says that if you adopt NIMBY policies, have very strict land use rules, and employ policies like rent control, then supply will decline, demand will increase and prices will go to the sky.

SF is a textbook example of how housing policy can create housing problems.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 10:32 am

And this is something any neutral observer can understand intuitively. Demand is nearly infinite here, for all practical purposes. You cannot build your way out of this crisis, any more than you can drill your way out of peak oil.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 11:22 am

necessity, that people will pay any price, and therefore that price cannot be used as a mechanism to balance supply and demand.

While everyone needs shelter, not everyone has to live in San Francisco. Even if you work here, you could live in another part of the Bay Area. Or find another job elsewhere and relocate.

So in practice, price does reduce demand. If you want to live in Pacific Heights but cannot afford it, you look elsewhere, reducing demand.

The problem in SF is that the price mechanism is distorted by things like rent control and NIMBY land use restrictions.

The free market works fine but only when it is allowed to.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 11:40 am

Free market--no such thing.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 11:55 am

governments try and micro-manage everything.

It still exists but in private markets with no third parties. A relevant example if where a LL wants a TT to move out but cannot legally make him.

The free market response to that problem is for the LL to make a cash payment of a sufficient amount to induce the TT to move.

The LL gets his vacancy, the TT gets the cash he wants, and nobody else is affected either way.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

the mythical "free market." The landlord and tenant operate in the larger housing market, which is far from free. There may not be an intermediary between them in their transaction, but that doesn't prove the freedom of the market. It is way more complex than your explanation.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

rent control interferes with the ability of two consenting adults to make a deal.

Tenants everywhere reject that interference every time they freely choose to accept cash to move.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

Rent control (slightly) moves the power relationship toward a more equal one between the two parties, and thus increases freedom.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

under rent control because a tenant can leave whenever he wants, but the LL can be stuck with the tenant for life.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

If tenants had more power, they could set their own rents, they could present *their* contracts to the landlord and have the landlord decide whether they want to sign it or not, and they could decide to evict the landlord from their home.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 1:39 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

Definitely more complex. Probably too hard for us to understand. I suggest we do nothing.

BTW, December saw a spike in Ellis Act evictions.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

I think LL's who had been thinking of doing an Ellis may have been made to feel nervous about the possibility of changes to the law, and decided to Ellis while they can.

IMHO, that is unnecessary because I do not envisage Ellis changing materially. But then I can never blame an owner who gets tired of subsidizing his tenants.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

you fail to consider the circumstances where a tenant does not want to leave, or is physically or emotionally unable to bear the stress of moving and finding other housing...please try to think about the whole picture, rather than an over simplistic viewpoint that fails to show real-world experience in this regard

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

Some people prepare for such events and flourish. Others feel entitled and get whiplashed.

Luck doesn't have much to do with it.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

Just as an example, my Aunt Barbara happens to be quite well off and she could afford to buy a nice home in SF. She couldn't afford a big estate in Pacific Heights, but she could certainly purchase a comfortable home in Noe Valley or a really nice condo downtown. However, even though she enjoys visiting the City she chooses to live in Florida, and has never once expressed a desire to live in SF or buy a "second home" here. She is just one of the millions of people in the U.S. and around the world who could afford to live in SF at some price point that is reasonable for their means and who also really enjoy visiting SF, but who choose for various reasons to live elsewhere.

There is no "infinite demand" for living in SF. There is a higher demand to live here than there is to live in Little Rock, Arkansas, for example, but there is not an infinite demand to live in SF that somehow makes normal supply and demand economics inapplicable.

I love how people pull out of their butt that there is somehow an infinite demand to live in the City without any support, it's just some assumption they use to make the silly argument that building more housing will not bring down the cost of housing in SF. In fact, building enough housing would help to reduce the price of housing (and enough is not the few thousand units that pass for buidling "booms" in SF). If there were truly an infinite demand for housing, then housing prices would increase and never come down. However, recent housing data shows that housing prices in the City, even in very desirable neighborhoods, are reaching their peak and increases have slowed, which is proof there that there is not an infinite demand to live in the City. So, let's just drop that assertion and get back to reality.

SF has always been a city that is fairly hostile too new development. Even in the 1950's, it was much more difficult to get approval for new development in SF compared to most other U.S. cities. In the following decades, it has become exponentionally more difficult, expensive, and generally time consuming to construct any new development, even when the proposed development falls within existing zoning rules that were put in place after years of public meetings and input. (I am not referring to projects asking for major variances, like the failed 8 Washington project). Even a routine housing development that conforms to existing zoning, inclusionary housing laws, etc. can take years to wind its way through a contentious approval process--this is unnacceptable in a city that desperately needs more housing.

Let's have an experiment. If SF commits to actually building 15,000 housing units a year (not proposed or tentatively approved, but fully entitled and permitted, so no chance of any more appeals) for the next 5 years, and the cost of housing doesn't decrease, then I will eat my hat (which means I will go and buy one first :).

The simple fact is that SF has not built anywhere near the amount of housing it needs for any year over the past several decades. And, whenever the City has had some half-hearted building "boom," then suddenly the NIMBYs start balking and throwing out nonsense about "infinite demand" while pretending they actually care about improving the affordability of the City (when in fact, they don't because if they are property owners it means their properties are worth more, and if they are renters, they are usually in rent-controlled units, and their selfish motivation is simply they don't want newcomers in the City and like keeping things to themselves).

Posted by Chris on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

Not literally infinite, just virtually infinite, which is what I wrote from the start. So you didn't have to write an essay.

I propose another experiment. Let's get rid of Ellis, re-institute vacancy control, extend rent control to all units including SFHs and building built after 1979 -in other words, close all the loopholes. And institute a point system of maximum rent like they have in the Netherlands:
http://www.expatica.com/nl/housing/renting/Fair-rent-for-all-in-the-Neth...

If rents don't come down after we institute effective regulations, I'll eat my hat and say go ahead, destroy the city and build whatever you want. It's just that I want to try making housing affordable WITHOUT destroying the city first.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

there was also set a minimum rent?

IOW, would you compromize to get some of what you want? Or is it more a question of you getting everything you want at no cost?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

That seems like a fair compromise. The Dutch point system sets a maximum rent based on a variety of factors. I don't think they need to set a minimum rent, because the landlord is the one who sets the rent. Most landlords are going to set the rent at the legal maximum since one presumes they're in it to make money, but if you thought they should set a minimum fair rent, I wouldn't object. I guess no one ever thought about that because there isn't exactly a crisis of rents being set at ridiculously low levels.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 3:52 pm

A "fair" rent would take into account size, location, amenities and so on, obviously.

But they also have to take into account the owner's costs because, as you know, a LL who bought a building recently has much higher costs than one who bought a long time ago.

If we have to have limits, I'd prefer to see them in terms of ROI. And that would of course establish a minimum fair return to the landlord as well as a maximum fair rent for the tenant.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 7:47 am

I haven't looked at it closely enough, so I'm not sure it includes costs.

One benefit of NOT including costs, would be that it keeps property prices from going through the roof, and thus cuts down on speculation.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 9:01 am

the situation arising where a LL makes a loss, or at least a totally inadequate profit. That would making it a "taking" under the US constitution. Holland doesn't have to worry about our constitution but SF does.

The Rent Ordinance actually has a specific statement in it that the LL has a right to a reasonable rate of return. That's in there to try and ensure the constitutionality of rent control.

Of course, you and I would no doubt disagree on notions like "fair" and "reasonable" so they aren't necessarily helpful terms. But to my mind, a return is fair if it is broadly equivalent to the return I can get elsewhere in the Bay Area.

If that is not the case, then SF LL's quit and SF's available rental housing stock either deteriorates or gradually vanishes. That doesn't help tenants. You should want LL's to do well, rather than see them as a group to be punished and confiscated from.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 9:17 am

that guarantees the right to profits? Not interested in banal platitudes or opinion. Just the section, please.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

Clue. Look in the Bill of rights.

Profit is constitutionally guaranteed but if there is no profit in providing you with a home, then why would I do that? And why would I invest in Sf for a 5% ROI when I can get a 10% ROI in Marin for the same level of risk, or less?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

Section, please.

I don't care to hear your scholarly interpretation of other sections of the constitution, much less you Cato Institute talking points. Just the section that spells out the right of a business to profit.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

government counts as a taking under the Constitution, which you well know and are just playing dumb about.

In fact, the rent ordinance specifically states that a LL is allowed a "reasonable rate of return" so even your precious rent ordinance enshrines that principle.

But the main reason you want your landlord to make a good profit is so that you do not lose your home.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

What you propose sounds like a recipe for an aging city. If people have incentives to stay forever in their apt, as rent control does, where are young people going to move into?

How can a new artist move to SF if every unit has rent control, why would any of the people in those units leave? And even if they did leave the market rate of the few places where people have left would be insane, no artist or creatives need apply. This city can descend further into an aging boring mess.

As for maximum rent? Is that really a serious proposition? For one thing the City government would not have the authority to make such a law. Even if in theory lets say they could pass that law, the law is unconstitutional as a taking of private property.

Can we at least act like adults instead of throwing out ideas like a 'maximum rent'. You do realize this city is quickly losing its entire creative class, how about real solutions?

Build enough in SOMA to get rid of the demand introduced by tech workers. Or are there infinite tech workers? At some point that demand will be quashed, and we can build affordable housing in other areas.

Posted by Bob on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

He wants to preserve the city "as is" for the current residents, regardless of merit.

He doesn't want a city, he wants a theme park, a colonial Williamsburg on the Pacific.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

Why would anyone want to run a rental housing business?

It's exactly these kinds of rules that constrain supply.

You understand so little, Greg.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 3:09 pm
Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

If I can get 10% elsewhere, why would I settle for 3%? And deal with all the hassle and risk of tenants.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

What does he think a reasonable rental return should be on, say, a million dollar SF rental building.

Exclude price appreciation because an owner would get that on a non RC building as well.

Purely as a rental, what would his minima and maxima be for rents?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

For the price of a single family house in SF, you could buy a 15 or 25 unit apartment building in say, Austin or Dallas. On paper the ROI might pencil out better for the latter. And no rent control -yippie! But you'll likely find that the quality of your tenants in terms of paying the rent may not be nearly as good.

Add to that, the fact that if you live here, you'll be managing it remotely, which racks up expenses big time.

Add to that, the fact that in Texas the disclosure laws are much weaker than in California; if the seller lies through their teeth and you don't find out till after you buy, it's very difficult to sue.

In San Francisco, the biggest landlord lament seems to be that a tenant will stay there forever and ever. Well if the biggest downside risk is that you won't have to search for another tenant in the next 30 years, they pay their rent on time and that rent is forever guaranteed to cover your mortgage and then some, because rent control more than covers additional costs you may have... well shit, if that's the worst case scenario, then I can totally understand why someone would prefer a lower ROI on paper in San Francisco.

Because investing remotely in Texas or wherever, there's a damn good chance you could lose your ass.

As for what I think is a fair return, that's not really for me to decide, nor would I want to. Those kinds of decisions should be made democratically. In places like the Netherlands, Venezuela, and elsewhere, there are actually committees (gasp! committees!) of trained people who evaluate a whole variety of factors to determine fair rents. The link I provided describes how it works in The Netherlands -you as a tenant can actually get a team to come out if you think your rent was set too high. They will evaluate every square inch of your place and adjust your rent. If the landlord refuses to adjust, you can initiate proceedings against him in a civil rent court for the nominal cost of 25 EU. This is how a civilized country does it.

I wouldn't even begin to suggest that I could do a better job giving an off-the-cuff answer to a baiting question on a chatboard. What I will say is that putting it in the hands of professionals working within the context of a democratic government (another important factor) is far superior than doing absolutely nothing and leaving prices to whatever the hell a landlord can get away with charging.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

I can buy a rental building in Marin or Daly City, and not have to worry about rent control. I can evict with 60 days notice and/or set the rent to whatever I want.

So the real choice is SF or almost anywhere else in the Bay Area. And because SF comes with so many more hassles and risks, I need a higher ROI in SF to justify that.

If I have ten million to invest, then I am going to choose the best risk/reward profile, and rules like you want would drive me to buy (just) outside SF.

The idea that we would pay for dozens of professionals to "assess" fair rents is as insane an idea as I've heard from you. Are you seriously suggesting that mature adults cannot negotiate a rent for themselves, but rather need bureaucrats to tell them?

I really do think you would have been so much happier in some Eastern European nation - until they imploded anyway. The american way of doing things must feel very alien to you.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 7:52 am

"price cures everything."

If strong rent control would be so onerous, then some (not all) investors would certainly prefer to buy elsewhere. That would exert a downward pressure on property values. That would be a good thing. It would make those rental properties attractive again at some price point.

Of course in practice, for some reason people prefer to buy properties in San Francisco to Daly City, for whatever reason. Rent control and all.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 8:46 am

such punitive laws that rental buildings collapse in value, whereupon the landlords give up in disgust and take a huge capital loss. If that is what you seek, why not just be honest enough to say so?

Although quite why you think it is good for tenants to have broke demoralized landlords is beyond me.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 9:04 am

Greg, you seem sincere in your beliefs, but it's very hard to take your opinions seriously when you play the drama queen. No one wants to "destroy" the City, and least of all me, a proud San Franciscan for going on 20 years.

Building an adequate supply of housing not only wouldn't require destruction of the City or it's charm, but it would actually greatly improve the quality of life for SF residents.

The price restrictions have been tried, and they have largely made the housing situation worse, not better. What has never been tried thus far in SF is to build enough housing to keep up with demand. Let's try this first and then we can explore alternatives if it doesn't work.

Posted by Chris on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 9:12 pm

We've never had a strong rent control law. There have always been loopholes you could drive a truck through, including now.

And what is "adequate?" Adequate to satisfy demand? At least a couple million people would move here tomorrow if they could. I think there are at least that many people living in the Bay Area outside of The City who would love to move to The City. You can't satisfy that kind of demand without destroying the quality of life here.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

If it was, then why did the State see fit to twice restrain and restrict SF's ability to make rent control more extreme?

Those "loopholes" you refer to are simply enactments of the constitutional right of a property owner to get a fair return and to be able to get back his property if he no longer wants to rent it out.

So get the constitution changed if you want to be able to compel people to be landlords forever against their will.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 7:44 am

First, SF has had rent control since 1977, and over the years it has continued to increase tenant protections. If you are a tenant in SF, you have some of the best protections in the country. And despite all the handwringing about the Ellis Act, between the 12 months of March 2012 and February 2013, there were 116 Ellis Act evictions-- a mere 116, and this is the number that keeps getting cited as supposedly indicating an Ellis Act "crisis" And you know what? There were only a total of 1,716 evictions period, which includes people who simply didn't pay their rent. This is out of a city with a population of over 825,000 where most residents are renters. The supposed "eviction crisis" is over evictions that amount to a drop in the bucket.

Second, where is your proof that a couple of million people would move to SF tomorrow if they could? Again, you seem to be going back to the made up "infinite demand" argument. The proof there is no infinite demand is shown everyday in real estate listings when listing prices get slashed. Yes, some homes still sell for millions of dollars, but when you have to reduce a home's price once, twice, or even three times for it to sell, even when it is a really splendid home in a very desirable neighborhood, then that is proof there is no "infinite demand" to live in SF. The proof is also shown in the fact that both rents and home prices are starting to level off.

SF is a desirable city to live in, but there are plenty of people who could both afford to live here and who even like the city who choose not to live here. We don't need to build millions of new units. 15,000 units a year for 5-10 years would really help to address the need for new housing and bring down housing costs. We could easily build 15,000 units a year for 5-10 years without destroying the quality of life here, and in fact, it would greatly improve the quality of life for everyone by helping to reduce the cost of living in SF. No one is arguing for tearing down the "painted ladies" or building on public parks or putting up a 50-story high-rise next to three-story homes--so drop all the bogeyman arguments against increasing density. There are lots of areas in the city where new housing could replace empty or underutilized lots. The city could also permit several thousands of in-law units to be built that would would in particular help address the need for affordable housing. It simply needs to be done, but the NIMBYS will keep fighting it and while they do, they will ensure that housing and rent prices stay high.

Posted by Chris on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 9:25 am

if SF's protections are the best there is. But yes, as far as this country goes, I know. That's one of the things that made this city attractive to move to for me. My landlord was vile where I moved from before. She'd slap a note on the door saying that there would be an inspection of the apartment at 11AM the next day. When I'd politely ask if it could be rescheduled to a time that would be more convenient for me because I have to be at work at 11AM on a Tuesday, she'd purse her lips and say the time would be 11AM on Tuesday. I pointed out that the contract specifies inspections would be scheduled at "mutually convenient" times. She look at me with her beady little pig eyes and said "'Mutually convenient' is 11AM on Tuesday."

You'd look in the phonebook for a landlord-tenant lawyer, and every single one advertises how fast they can get your tenants evicted, so you know which side they're on.

Here in San Francisco, I haven't had one landlord invade my privacy by "inspecting" my apartment -ever. There's recourse if they steal your deposit. There are laws governing how much they can raise your rent. And only half the lawyers advertise how fast they can get your tenants evicted. A few even advertise that they work for tenants! It's still skewed for the landlords, but at least tenants have a fighting chance in this town.

As for the whole supply and demand thing... well of course prices are leveling off. It's gotten to the point that very few can afford to buy. But if your theory correct and building like crazy is going to lower prices, then that demand will pop right back up. My theory is that it won't do squat. Prices will regulate at just enough of a level to suck up demand as it comes along. We'll be left with prices just as high as they are now, but an urban landscape that will be ruined forever.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

A LL has the right to enter your unit with 24 hours notice. He does not need your permission if he has a good reason, and can enter at any time in an emergency.

Moreover, your only right of reasonable refusal is if the LL wants to enter OUTSIDE of normal business hours.

I'd have more respect for you if you were just honest and admitted that you want to pay way under the market rent for no reason other than you are a greedy selfish little fuck. At least then I could not accuse you of dishonesty and hypocrisy.

And BTW, I would never have rented to you because I have great instincts for people with political opinions like yours, and avoid them like the plague. As a result I've had great tenants AND great turnover.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

The contract said "mutually convenient time." In San Francisco, I've never had regular inspections in the contract, period. At any time mutually convenient or not. The only reason my landlord can enter my place is for an emergency, as you say. When I first moved to San Francisco, I had to read the contract over several times to confirm that there were no "inspections" -I couldn't believe it. Really? Your privacy is respected here? You're treated like a human being instead of like you're living in some military barracks? Wow. I'm liking this city already.

And BTW... I'm a great tenant. I pay my rent, I don't destroy the place. No landlord could ask for more. Well, no landlord who isn't a scoundrel anyway. Only landlords who are looking for tenants who don't know their rights need to fear me, because I do know my rights.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

the law is clear on the rules for a LL entering a TT's property:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/living-in.shtml

You will see in there that normal business hours are allowed but not otherwise. Obviously a LL and TT can agree whatever they want but sometimes State law over-rides and invalidates what the lease says.

Also, a tenant cannot unreasonably refuse permission to enter. Tenants have been evicted for refusing to let the LL in.

As a practical matter,. most LL's want to go in there once a year to check the smoke detectors work as that is a legal requirement.

There is a lot more to being a good tenant other than paying the rent and not damaging the place. That's the baseline minimum

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

Your own source bolsters what I'm saying. These are all reasonable things, and none of these include "regular inspections just because the landlord wants to." That's not home, that's prison. From your own source (emphasis mine):

"California law states that a landlord can enter a rental unit ONLY for the following reasons:

In an emergency.
When the tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit.
To make necessary or AGREED-UPON repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements.
To show the rental unit to prospective tenants, purchasers, or lenders, to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit, or to conduct an INITIAL inspection before the end of the tenancy (see Initial Inspection sidebar).
If a court order permits the landlord to enter.116
If the tenant has a waterbed, to inspect the installation of the waterbed when the installation has been completed, and periodically after that to assure that the installation meets the law's requirements.117"

My contracts have always stated that I'm responsible for keeping the smoking detectors in working order. That's reasonable too. I'm not a child. I can take care of my own damn smoke detectors in my own damn home without my landlord invading my privacy. And yes, it is my home, as the condo HOA where I lived found out the hard way.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

"whenever a LL reasonably wants to enter". That typically includes repairs, emergencies, inspections, to show to a new tenant, to show if selling the building, and so on.

So I do not want to enter the property frequently or unreasonably. But if you refused to ever let me enter even when I had reasonable cause, then I would take action up to and including eviction.

Because I would assume you had something to hide.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 6:04 pm

ONLY those conditions written in the law. My landlord doesn't enter my home for any other reason. Period. "Inspections" is not one of those conditions.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 27, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

the idea that everyone wants to move to San Francisco is nothing but provincial clap trap. This is a small city that prides itself on thinking even smaller. You'll find more 24 hour options in Phoenix, and better gay bars in Seattle.
SF is basically a gated community with all the crappy things gated communities are supposed to keep out.
So, of course everyone in the world wants to live in a small city which is perpetually navel gazing, but it aint reality.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 9:10 am

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