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Hayward curbs evictions with ‘just cause’ vote

City changes rent rules to head off anticipated evictions

City Hall in Hayward.
Photo by Jeffrey B. Banke/Shutterstock

This week the Hayward City Council voted to place significant restrictions on evictions in the East Bay city, barring landlords from ousting tenants except in cases of “just cause.”

According to documents filed with the council ahead of the vote, “just cause” is defined 15 different ways, including failure to pay rent, lease violations, damage to the property “beyond normal wear and tear,” “[destroying] the peace and quiet of other tenants or occupants of the premises,” unit demolition or owner move-in, or tenant actions relating to various crimes on the property.

The Hayward parameters are similar to those covering just cause evictions in San Francisco. At Tuesday’s meeting, Hayward housing manager Christina Morales pointed out that these same rules already applied to nearly 15,000 of Haywards’s 22,200-plus rental units; the new ordinance makes them universal across all rentals.

The changes to Hayward’s standards come after the city previously voted to amend its Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

A Hayward city staff report on the change described it as “an emergency ordinance to prevent no cause evictions that are likely a result of the proposed modifications” to other city rent rules.

The same report notes:

Between 2013 and 2017, rents increased in the city by 46 percent while the median income of renters only increased 25 percent. While low income renters are the most impacted by rising rents and lack of available rental housing, all Hayward renters are experiencing the impacts of a tight rental market.

Additionally, renter-occupied units are disproportionately comprised of African-American and Hispanic households compared to all occupied units, which raises concerns that the risk of potential displacement is greater for certain racial and ethnic populations.

The city also blames an “increase in Hayward and the Bay Area’s population absent a corresponding increase in housing units” for the ever-upward motion of Hayward rent prices.

Photo by Jennifer Williams

According to the U.S. Census, the “median gross rent” in Hayward in 2017 was $1,562 per month. During the last full census in 2010, it was $921 per month.

The median market rent for units listed on sites like Rent Cafe may be several times higher—$2,157 per month for a single-bedroom apartment in January of this year.

More than 48 percent of Hayward residents are renters, according to the census.

Morales said that there are probably only 1,600 rent-controlled units at most in the city.

In 2010 the city’s population was 11.9 percent “black or African American.” In 2017 that number had dropped to 10.2.

The portion of Latino Hayward residents who identified as Mexican-American on the census rose slightly since 2010, from 30.2 to 31.9. However, the percentage Puerto Rican, Cuban, and “other Hispanic or Latino” identifications all declined.

The new law also mandates that landlords must specifically inform tenants of the just cause ordinance when signing a lease, increasing the rent, or making an attempt at eviction.

The ordinance needed five votes to go into effect immediately. It ended up passing 7-0.