Topic No. 312: Tenant Objections to a Capital Improvement Petition
There are several grounds upon which tenants may object to a Capital Improvement Petition. If a tenant cannot attend the hearing, he or she can submit a written objection before the hearing or send a person to the hearing with written authority to represent the tenant at the hearing.
Permissible objections to a capital improvement petition include the following:
- The work claimed was not performed;
- The work performed was necessary due to the deferred maintenance of the current owner;
- The costs are excessive or unreasonable;
- The work performed inside the tenant's unit was not necessary for health or safety reasons or to reduce excessive maintenance costs; and/or
- The work is more luxurious and costly than necessary, considering the socioeconomic status of the building's existing tenants, and it was not necessary for reasons of health, safety or excessive maintenance costs.
Even in the absence of a tenant objection, the cost of a capital improvement will not be certified if the work was performed in order to correct a code violation for which a notice of violation remained unabated for 90 days, unless the landlord made timely good faith efforts to complete the work within the 90-day period, but was unsuccessful due to circumstances beyond the landlord's control.
Habitability problems that either preceded the work or were caused by the work are not necessarily defenses to the passthrough of the costs, but may be grounds for a separate tenant petition for a reduction in rent based on a decrease in housing services.
Although financial hardship is not a valid objection to certification of a capital improvement passthrough, a tenant may file an appeal of a decision approving a capital improvement passthrough based on financial hardship. For capital improvement petitions filed on or after February 21, 2003, the tenant may file a hardship application at any time after the decision is issued. To receive a copy of the hardship application and appeal form, you can fax them to yourself through our Fax Back system by calling 252-4660 or visit our website at www.sfgov.org/rentboard. The hardship application and appeal form are also available at our office.