How Would Vacancy Control Work in the Real World?
By Gideon Kramer, Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI)
In 1980, the City of Berkeley passed a comprehensive strict rent control ordinance considered “strict” because it included vacancy control. Under vacancy control, city-mandated price controls continue to apply even after a voluntary vacancy occurs. This all changed in 1995 when the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Assembly Bill 1164) (“Costa-Hawkins”) became state law, mandating that no local rent control could be passed on properties built after its date of passage.
Costa-Hawkins also abolished vacancy control. Berkeley took steps to comply. But it didn’t change its own ordinance. Only too ready to dust it off and bring it back to life, Berkeley prepared to automatically revert to the old rules if Costa-Hawkins was repealed. Opponents of Costa-Hawkins have spared no effort to enable Berkeley and other cities to do just that. Proposition 10 failed on the November 2018 ballot, again in November 2022 (Proposition 21), and a third attempt, the “Justice for Renters Act,” is in the works and gathering signatures for the November 2024 ballot.