S.F. Rent Control Helping the Rich, Not the Poor

Wealthy families are using San Francisco's rent-controlled apartments as vacation homes, to the detriment of landlords and low-income families, for whom the regulations intended to preserve affordable housing were designed.
June 20, 2012, 2pm PDT | Akemi Leung
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Rent control laws are intended to keep apartments affordable for lower-income families, but in San Francisco, a city with intense pressures on its dwindling supply of affordable housing, the rich are taking advantage of them instead. C.W. Nevius writes that wealthy families are renting San Francisco apartments as vacation homes and are even forming co-ops to share apartments with other wealthy families in order to get around regulations requiring full-time residency.

A law from 2001, which allows landlords to petition for the right to prove that their tenants are not living in the building full-time, might be deterring tenants from using the apartments as weekend getaways, but attorney Andrew Zacks thinks that tenants are getting smarter about faking their residency. He also notes that proving part-time residency requires a private investigator and thousands of dollars.

"Zacks, and many landlords, would argue that the rent-control cheats are not only failing to pay their fair share, but they are also holding down the number of available rentals," writes Nevius.

"‘People are hoarding the units,' [Zacks] said. ‘You have these beautiful homes being used for storage.'" To Zacks, this is something worth fighting against.

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Published on Saturday, June 16, 2012 in San Francisco Chronicle
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