A San Francisco rant.
that someone own a building for five years before he or she can … go out of the business of being a landlord.
In San Francisco, the Ellis Act is generally used by real estate speculators to evict all the renters in a building so that it can be sold to individual buyers as a tenancy in common. In the case of two- and three-unit buildings, for instance, that means two or three people jointly owning a property that each can then occupy a unit in. Later the buyers enter the condo-conversion lottery in order to become owners of their units.
I’ll translate that for those not familiar with the surreal, upside-down economics of San Francisco. This is a government run lottery for property owners. The prize is to be allowed to live in your own property and / or be able to sell it if you want, and not have to rent it out under rent-control. You read that correctly: some property owners in San Francisco have to enter a lottery to see if they are allowed to stop renting out their property to rent-control tenants. And they wonder why rents are high in San Francisco. Jeez, you’d think people would be lining up to buy properties to rent out at rents decided by the government for as long as the government decides you should do so.
And the paper knows who the bad guys are: it’s the “greedy individuals (who) are also gentrifying neighborhoods and destroying race and class diversity”. Wow. So running any kind of property business, or just wanting a home of your own, is “greedy”. Thanks for clearing that up.
And it also knows who the victims are: it’s the “displaced tenants – in many instances seniors, people of color, people with AIDS, or working-class folks – (who) have to shuffle for a new place in a market where the rents are still immorally high.” Of course – renters should have the same rights and privileges as property owners, but without all the pesky inconvenience of actually buying a property. (You know, finding the property, finding the money for the down-payment, qualifying for the loan, investing the time, paying the legal fees, buying the property, paying the property taxes, paying to insure and maintain the building, and taking the risks.) But, of course, they still shouldn’t have to pay those “immorally high” rents.
Property is expensive in San Francisco, and life is difficult for lower income people, seniors etc. But why is it the job of a small group of people – private property owners – to solve this problem out of their own pockets? Here’s an idea. Allow property owners to do what they want with their properties – rent them out or live in them, or leave them empty, whatever. Then abolish rent control so that more property owners are likely to want to rent their properties out. Standard economic theory would indicate that rents would then come down to something less “immoral”.
Ha! It’ll never happen. Alice in wonderland is alive in this city – black is white, up is down and the laws of supply and demand can be repealed just because the City government says so.