Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer wants to create a city inventory of rental units. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer wants to create a city inventory of rental units. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF may require landlords to report key rental info for a housing inventory

To better protect renters and track vacancies in San Francisco, a city supervisor wants to require landlords to report detailed information about their rental units annually to the Rent Board.

Under legislation introduced Tuesday by Supervisor Sandra Fewer, the Rent Board would be required to maintain an inventory of all rental units, giving The City a clearer picture of what rents are actually like in San Francisco and the number of vacant units.

Beginning July 1, 2022, owners of these units would have to provide annually information about each of their units, including the business contact information of owner or property manager, unit address, approximate size, approximate rent, housing services included in the rent such as water or parking, whether unit occupied or vacant and the date when occupancy or vacancy began. The requirement does not apply to owner-occupied units.

Fewer said that the 1979 rent ordinance was to “safeguard tenants from excessive rent increases” and has since allowed “The City to regulate rents it has helped protect tenants from losing their homes because of real estate booms and gentrification.”

“But one thing The City lacks is an accurate inventory of the city’s existing housing stock,” Fewer said. “In order for the rent board to track landlord-tenant relationships, inspect and investigate housing services and rents, and better administer the rent ordinance we need them to maintain an accurate inventory of our existing rental housing stock.”

Fewer hopes to pass the law before she leaves office in January. It has the support so far of Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney and Aaron Peskin.

She said the information will also help the Rent Board ensure compliance with corporate rental laws and identify vacancies that could be used for “ good samaritan purposes.”

“Rent reporting could also be relevant to claims that a landlord had imposed a bad faith rent increase to coerce a tenant to vacate,” Fewer said.

A landlord would not be able to increase rents until they obtain a license to do so through the Rent Board, which they would receive upon reporting the required data.

The Rent Board’s costs to create and maintain the inventory would be passed on to landlords and tenants with a surcharge added to the existing Rent Board fee.

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