August 20, 1996
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF
THE SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENTIAL RENT
STABILIZATION & ARBITRATION BOARD,
Tuesday, August 20, 1996 at 6:00 p.m. at
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70, Lower Level
I. Call to Order
President Becker called the meeting to order at 6:05 p.m.
II. Roll Call
Commissioners Present: Becker; Bierly; Gruber; Lightner; Marshall;
Moore; Mosser; Murphy; Palma.
Commissioners not Present: Wasserman.
Staff Present: Grubb; Wolf.
III. Approval of the Minutes
MSC: To approve the Minutes of August 6, 1996.
IV. Remarks from the Public
An individual asked questions regarding the composition of the
V. Consideration of Appeals
A. 2840 Greenwich St. R001-03R
The landlord’s petition for certification of the costs of a new
toilet, exterior siding and painting was approved, resulting in
a monthly passthrough in the amount of $136.45 to the tenant in
one unit. The tenant appeals the decision, asserting that the
costs of similar work done to a larger building on the same property
should be taken into account in determining the reasonable cost
for the work; and that the tenant should not be liable for 50%
of the cost of work done to the ground floor, as the tenant has
the use of less than 50% of the garage area.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Lightner/Gruber: 4-1; Marshall dissenting)
B. 2047A Broadway St. R001-03A
The tenant’s petition alleging substantial decreases in housing
services was granted, and the landlord was found liable to the
tenant in the amount of $469.15 due to lack of access to the laundry
room and garage, a leaking full-length window and an inoperable
garbage disposal. On appeal, the landlord asserts that the facts
on the record do not support the findings in the decision; that
the landlord was not given an adequate opportunity to present
her case at the hearing; and that she has retained new counsel
to assist in the presentation of her claim.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Marshall/Palma: 3-2; Gruber, Lightner
C. 1278 - 19th Ave. R001-04A
The tenants’ petition alleging substantial decreases in housing
services and unlawful rent increases was granted, in part, and
the landlords were found liable to the tenants in the amount of
$771.78 for the refund of rent overpayments and $3,035.00 for
rent reductions due to decreased housing services. On appeal,
the landlord alleges that several of the conditions had been abated
prior to the issuance of the decision; that the rent overpayments
resulted from the Rent Board’s failure to notify landlords of
the change in the amount of the allowable annual increase from
4% to 1.6%; and that the amount of the rent reductions is excessive.
MSC: To accept the appeal and remand the case for a new hearing
to determine the proper termination date, if any, for rent reductions
in light of the February 16, 1996 Notice of Violation abatement.
D. 686 Valencia St. #3 R001-05A
The tenant’s petition alleging substantial decreases in housing
services and unlawful rent increases was granted and the landlord
was found liable to the tenant in the amount of $495.00 due to
decreased housing services and $434.19 due to rent overpayments
during the period November 1994 through January 1995. The tenant
appealed the decision on the grounds that the hearing officer
should have considered unlawful rent increases back to 1982 and
that he had not been given the opportunity to present evidence
on this point. The tenant’s appeal was accepted and remanded
on the issue of the rent history only. In the Decision on Remand,
the landlord is found liable for rent overpayments totaling $4,837.53.
The landlord, who failed to appear at the properly noticed remand
hearing, appeals the Decision on Remand on the grounds that some
of the work for which rent reductions was granted in the original
decision had been performed.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Marshall/Palma: 5-0)
In addition to correspondence concerning cases on the calendar,
the Commissioners received the office workload statistics for
the month of June, 1996.
VII. Director’s Report
The Executive Director announced that the office is very close
to meeting mandated timelines for the scheduling of hearings and
issuance of decisions due to the additional of a temporary hearing
officer position, the denial of hearing officer vacation requests
for the months of August and September, and the success of the
mediation pilot project.
VIII. Old Business
A. Proposed Amendments to Rules and Regulations Section 10.10
Regarding the Issue of Constructive Notice
At their meeting on August 6, 1996, the Commissioners held a
Public Hearing on proposed amendments to Rules and Regulations
Section 10.10 regarding the issue of constructive notice. After
the conclusion of the Public Hearing, the Board members discussed
and extensively revised the proposed amendments, and made and
seconded a motion to adopt the proposed amendments which were
to be distributed in final form prior to the August 20th meeting.
After further discussion and final revision, the following motion
MSC: To adopt proposed amendments to Rules and Regulations Section
10.10 as modified at the meeting on August 20, 1996. (Becker/Marshall:
4-1; Lightner dissenting)
Effective August 20, 1996, Rules and Regulations Section 10.10
reads as follows:
Section 10.10 Decrease in Services
(a) A tenant may petition for a reduction of base rent where
a landlord, without a corresponding reduction in rent, has (1)
substantially decreased housing services, including any service
added after commencement of the tenancy and for which additional
consideration was paid when it was provided, or (2) failed to
provide housing services reasonably expected under the circumstances,
or (3) failed to provide a housing service verifiably promised
by the landlord prior to commencement of the tenancy.
(b) A petition for arbitration based on decreased services shall
be filed on a form supplied by the Board. The petition shall
be accompanied by a statement setting forth the nature and value
of the service for which the decrease is being sought, and the
date the decrease began and ended, if applicable.
(c) No rent decrease as requested in the tenant’s petition will
be allowed prior to one year preceding the filing of the petition
except where one or more of the following is found:
(1) extraordinary circumstances;
(2) where the tenant establishes by a preponderance of the evidence
that there has been long term notice, oral or written, from the
tenant or other reliable source, regarding such decrease occurring
in the interior of the tenant’s unit, or where such condition
existed in the interior of the unit at the commencement of the
tenancy and the landlord had constructive notice of same; or
(3) where the tenant establishes by a preponderance of the evidence
that there has been actual long term notice, oral or written,
from the tenant or other reliable source, and/or constructive
notice regarding such decrease occurring in any common area.
(d) For the purposes of this section, notice is defined as follows:
(1) Actual Notice: Actual notice occurs when the tenant or
any reliable person or entity informs the landlord, or the landlord’s
agents, orally or in writing, of a decrease in housing services
as defined in the Rent Ordinance at Section 37.2(g).
(2) Constructive Notice: Constructive notice occurs when a
decrease in housing services exists and the landlord should have
known about the condition. (For example, constructive notice
may be found when a reasonable inspection would have revealed
the condition in the common area at any time or in the unit prior
to the commencement of the tenancy.)
(e) With respect to Newly Covered Units, the earliest permissible
effective date for any rent decrease allowed under this Section
10.10 shall be December 22, 1994; provided, however, that the
initial base rent, as defined by Section 37.12(a) of the Rent
Ordinance, shall include all housing services provided or reasonably
expected on May 1, 1994, or as of the commencement of the tenancy,
whichever is later.
(f) Except where a failure to repair and maintain results in
a substantial decrease in housing services, any relief granted
by the Board under this section shall preclude relief under Section
10.11 below. This provision shall not limit any civil remedies
that would otherwise be available to a tenant or landlord.
B. Extended Amortization Schedules for Seismic Work
The Commissioners discussed an amendment to the Rules and Regulations
proposed by Commissioner Marshall which would extend the amortization
schedules for seismic renovation work and resulting major structural
improvements to thirty years. Commissioner Marshall expressed
a concern in the tenant community that extensive seismic renovation
of residential buildings will lead to large rent increases and
resultant displacement of tenants. The landlord representatives
on the Board questioned the necessity of such a change, articulating
their belief that the 10% "cap" on capital improvement
passthroughs and hardship appeal provisions of the Regulations
provide a sufficient "safety net" for low-income tenants.
There was also discussion of the terms of certain agreements
that were made between representatives of the tenant and landlord
communities when the City’s bond-financed UMB loan program was
Further discussion of this issue was tabled pending a request
from a Commissioner that it be put back on the calendar.
IX. Calendar Items
August 27, 1996 - NO MEETING
September 3, 1996
6 appeal considerations
New Business: Report on Mediation Pilot Project
September 10, 1996 - NO MEETING
President Becker adjourned the meeting at 8:00 p.m.