Frequently Asked Questions
Won’t The Initiative Decrease Rents?
No. Only a limited portion of rental housing is covered and prices for initial rents are unlimited. The very first renter seeking a new rental, after the initiative, will face climbing prices as vacant rentals can be priced to a new, higher market rate. The City of Santa Cruz passed temporary rent control in February and yet, as we write, with rent control a three bedroom house on Craigslist is renting for $5,200. No rents decreased.
· In Berkeley, with rent control, median rental prices increased from $350 in 1990, to $1150 median rent. Prices tripled even with rent control.
How Will This Affect the Availability of Rental Housing in Santa Cruz?
It will be much harder to find a place to live. Fewer rentals will be available because people will stay in apartments longer and many housing providers will withdraw rental units because new restrictions are too onerous.
· In rent controlled Santa Monica, 25% of rental units were withdrawn.
· In rent controlled San Francisco 30% of rent controlled renters lost their rentals to gentrification.
How Will the Initiative Affect Neighborhoods in Santa Cruz?
Together, both renters and homeowners will be affected. The initiative makes it difficult for housing providers to choose who lives in rentals as it removes subleasing controls. Families of renters can move in other family members without provider permission, up to one person per 50 square feet. Housing providers and housemates won’t be able to take significant action to manage problems like extra-large households, unruly housemates, too many cars, disabled vehicles, refuse or disturbances, or excessive noise. Neighborhoods will be less safe and peaceful. Today, leases and sub-leases are used to manage who remains in properties. With the initiative, renters can stay indefinitely, even after a lease ends. This tool to manage property will be gone.
How Does This Affect Homeowners?
Single family homeowners lose property rights. For example, you will no longer be able to lease your home for more than one year, without paying tens of thousands of dollars to relocate renters, when you return. You will lose flexibility to rent in case of a job transfer, required family care, travel or other move. Your neighborhood will deteriorate.
Does the Initiative Lower Student Rents?
No. Some students, living in apartments on the day the initiative passes, will benefit from limited rent increases. Students living in houses will still find that rent increases up to 10% a year. Further, housing providers are incentivized to increase rent to save for excessive relocation fees and penalties. There will fewer rental houses available, since many property owners, that don’t like these new laws, will sell their rental houses to homeowners. And existing renters will be less likely to move out. Most students will find it more difficult and more expensive to find future off campus housing.
Will the Initiative Make It Affordable for My Kids, Family, Friends or Coworkers to Live Here in the Future?
No. Unless your kids, family, friends or coworkers are renting a price-controlled apartment at the time initiative goes into effect, they will still face higher prices later, fewer available rentals, and it will be less likely they can stay in Santa Cruz.
Does the Initiative Hurt Those Over 50 Years Old?
Yes. The initiative intends to help people over 62 or disabled by making it very costly and difficult to evict them. The unfortunate side effect will be for future renters that are middle-aged or older, who will find it challenging to compete for housing, since there will be a disincentive to rent to older people.
Does this Hurt Homeowners Living Alongside Renters - ADUs, Duplexes or Triplexes?
With the initiative, this type of rental housing is subject to both rent control and eviction laws. The initiative prevents asking renters to move at the end of a lease agreement. Rental agreements can no longer prohibit subleases. As a result, owners will not be able to manage who is in their unit, nor for how long, in their own backyard. This will become a nightmare if an incompatible or disorderly renter moves in.
Does this Change How Many People Can Live in Neighboring Properties?
Yes! Housing Providers lose the ability to limit the number of renters below the California maximum for the house Which is that each dwelling must have at least one room measuring at least 120 square feet; and all other habitable rooms excluding kitchens must be at least 70 square feet. The size determines the maximum occupancy rate. Two people can occupy a minimum-sized dwelling. For each additional occupant, the minimum must increase by 50 square feet. This means the limit for an average three bedroom house is around 16 people. Sublets become more difficult or impossible to control. Also because less housing is available, more renters will tend to crowd up and share bedrooms. Together, everyone will experience this impact.