‘It’s more than what we have’: New rent protections coming to Hayward

After decades of landlords slowly whittling away the number of units protected by a city rent ordinance to as low as 1,000 through vacancy decontrol, the Hayward City Council  voted late Tuesday night to repeal and replace the ordinance with a more stringent menu of renters protections.

Vacancy decontrol measures allow a landlord to raise rents after a tenant vacates a unit. Under Hayward’s previous ordinance, the unit was no longer covered by the city’s rent control ordinance. Over time, the number of remaining controlled units was between 1,000 and 1,600 units in Hayward, according to a city staff estimate.

The rent ordinance unanimously approved by Hayward officials adds new tenant protections to more than 8,000 units built before 1979. Among other notable protections is a five percent cap on annual rent increases, in addition, to a mechanism for landlords to raise rents above five percent through mediation and binding arbitration. Just-cause protections, which allows landlords to evict tenants only with a specific reason, is also reincorporated into the new ordinance.

It’s not perfect. There’s some [on the council] who would like it go further, but we don’t have consensus.-Hayward Councilmember Elisa Marquez

But while housing advocates said Hayward’s new tenant protections is a significant step forward over a previous ordinance that had failed to help Hayward renters escape displacement and exorbitant rent increases in recent years, it is nonetheless less demanding of landlords, in comparison to neighboring East Bay cities that are also confronting the same issue.

Hayward’s new rent ordinance does not include tenant relocation payments featured in recent ordinances in Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. The payments, which can cost landlords thousands of dollars in order to evict a tenant under certain circumstances, is intended to help the renters afford the costs of procuring another unit in the city and, therefore, limiting displacement.

The ordinance also includes carve outs that could allow landlords to raise rents above the five percent threshold, in some instance, along with the ability to raise rents further if they had not been raised in recent years. A situation called “banking.” Furthermore, landlords can raise rents up to 10 percent on the occasion when capital improvements are made to the property.

Councilmember Elisa Marquez said the current iteration of the rent ordinance is a work in progress. “It’s not perfect. There’s some [on the city council] who would like it go further, but we don’t have consensus,” she said. “It’s more than what we have.”

Tuesday night’s meeting yet again highlighted a city council dynamic that appears focused on diminishing the shine of perhaps the East Bay’s next rising political star, Councilmember Aisha Wahab. The first-term councilmember has staked her emergence on stabilizing the housing crisis in Hayward. Marquez, though, touted her work on the issue for the past 5-6 years. Her council colleagues then painstakingly offered their praise for Marquez’s efforts. Like previous attempts by Marquez to undermine her colleague’s efforts, Wahab did not react, although, on several occasions flashed a knowing grin at her supporters in the audience.

“Tonight we can legitimately say we are helping thousands of people,” Wahab said. “Housing is a right and not a commodity.”

Marquez was clearly irked when Wahab asked the council to include an amendment calling for a short-term moratorium on rent increases until the new ordinance is fully enacted sometime in late July. “That is unacceptable,” Marquez said, and added she had only received the request a few hours before Tuesday’s meeting and needed more time to evaluate it.

The council will take up the proposal at the June 25 meeting, but the delay could afford a savvy landlord the opportunity to take advantage of a short six-day window to increase rents above the proposed five percent threshold. One South Hayward tenant told the council Tuesday night that he had received a $900 rent increase last month. The resident displayed a notice from his landlord with the perhaps unintentionally sardonic header: “You are eligible for our ‘residential excellence’ discount!”

Meanwhile, a long line of landlords asked the council to limit further restrictions on their rental properties, while others blatantly threatened to pull their units from the market and warned the new regulations would send a negative message to those looking to invest in Hayward.

Specifically, landlords repeatedly asked for an exemption for so-called “mom-and-pop” landlords, or, those who own between 1-4 rental units. “Over-regulation will put us out of business,” said Bill Espinola, a Hayward Realtor. He added, property owners with a small number of rental units have only a small profit margin. The ordinance, he added, will provide less incentive for landlords to re-invest in their property and eventually lower the number of available units in Hayward. “It’s difficult to do business in Hayward. It’s a losing proposition,” Espinola said.



Categories: Hayward, Hayward City Council, Uncategorized

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8 replies

  1. Marquez is so pathetic. The community that has known her knows she is an angry woman and a tool. She was appointed by a conservative council in 2014 and now acts as if she cares about the community, the same time Lamnin was elected with over $100K from unions that she ended up screwing. 5 years. By the time Marquez runs for re-election it will be 6 years she has been on council. They have ignored the crisis for nearly half a decade. Due to Wahab’s support in the audience and Marquez having her hand slapped when she attacked Wahab in March, she tried to act well. Everyone lined this up for Marquez to get credit but she didn’t even read the emergency ordinance to protect renters for 30 days until the policy is in effect. Her question to staff on this and the ordinance were weak. This council hates that Wahab reads and understands the policies. The Mayor and Mendall were upset and giving Wahab dirty looks the entire time and telling her publicly that Wahab is going “into Policy”!!!! What is there job? Wahab seems to be the only one doing it.

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  2. Aisha is fighting the good fight on behalf of renters. She will lose, not because she is right, but because she is unable to convince the balance of the Council that Hayward needs renters. What Aisha fails to support and the Council fails to understand is that Hayward needs Homeowners. Right now, what is happening is simple gentrification. The Council Members and Realtors are all in support of what will in the long term result in a fail of city planning. Hayward has no industry and little in the way of real infrastructure to support the city. We will become little more than a true suburb. The infrastructure will continue to deteriorate without a living wage to pay the workers to do the dry cleaning for the suburbs. Take a moment to pause in silence for the Death of the Heart of the Bay.

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  3. Aisha actually asked for a down payment assistance program and accelerating the minimum wage. What’s funny is that she seems to have been thinking about all the areas that Hayward has a problem and doing something about it while the rest of Council hate her because they have ignored the problems.

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    • Anonymous, the reality I think that that the Council hate her because she is progressive, Afghani, stands up against the old school of Hayward. The only way this will change will be for the People to stand up and vote for a Progressive slate of candidates.

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      • You may be right. Marquez did blow up before at her and then stated she, herself, is from the community. Seemed a bit racist but the Afghani community is pretty large in the East Bay as a whole. You do have these fake progressives on Council like: Lamnin, Marquez, and Mendall. Zermeno is the worst person on that council and Salinas.

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  4. As with all the laws and ordinances in Hayward: unenforceable, unenforced and too little too late. Hayward was such an incredibility nice American city up until the early 1980’s when the anti-America leftists seized control started stomping their collective boot heels into the face of the citizenry. Now it’s an anti-America leftist corrupted rigged fraud that is a true godless debauched dystopia. The sniveling idiots in City Hall won’t even acknowledge 4th of July (America most important holiday), let alone celebrate it… but large festivals in city hall plaza that celebrate an obscure battle in Mexico (that the Mexicans lost) are ok. Did I mention they are also racist? The only explanation for leftist anti- America California politicians is they are owned and operated by Mexican criminal cartels.

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