Ballot

District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston has gathered the 9,000 signatures necessary to place

his Vacancy Tax legislation on the November ballot. This measure would apply to all real estate in buildings with three units or more, including condos.

If it passes, we should not be surprised if it expands to include ALL private property in the future.

In a recent interview, former San Francisco Supervisor Tony Hall described the proposed vacancy tax as “nothing short of an attempt by city government to confiscate private property; it’s not about affordable housing or the so-called ‘housing crisis’; it’s about government getting control of your property. If it passes, it may be tweaked to include all units in a building or a much higher tax than the numbers currently proposed, or a different time period (like six weeks of vacancy triggers the tax instead of six months). It’s very clever how the legislation is written. The amount of the vacancy tax would be based on the vacant unit’s square footage.

Also, Preston has taken his measure to the ballot process, where only 9,000 signatures are required. He did this because he knew that if he tried to get it passed by his colleagues, it would be subject to hearings, much-scrutiny, and would be exposed for what it is. Instead, he has taken it to the public ballot process, where once passed the provisions of the measure can be changed any time by the Board of Supervisors alone.

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BE AWARE:  Disclosure Requirements for Online Rental Ads

This may come as news to many rental property owners. As of June 2020, Rent Ordinance Section 37.9F requires a written disclosure in all online listings for residential rental units.

Only owners or master tenants residing in the same rental unit as their tenants or subtenants are exempt. The disclosure is also required in print advertising. The disclosure must state the following:

“This rental unit is subject to the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, which limits evictions without just cause, and states that any waiver by a tenant of their rights under the Rent Ordinance is void as contrary to public policy.”

The Rent Board may receive referrals regarding online listings that don’t contain the disclosure.

If the violation is not corrected, the Rent Board may impose an administrative penalty on the owner. In addition, the City Attorney or a non-profit tenants’ rights organization is authorized to initiate a civil lawsuit against any owner who fails to comply with the disclosure requirements. To date, enforcement of the ordinance appears to be minimal, as we have heard of no rental property owners having been fined for failure to comply. But we suggest you stay on the safe side and include the disclosure the next time you rent one of your units.

Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News.  For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at www.smallprop.org or call (415) 647-2419.