Legislation would include Bay Area’s 477 floating homes within the state’s existing rent protection cap
(SACRAMENTO, CA) Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced Assembly Bill 252 adding rent and vacancy control to the Floating Home Residency Law to protect one of the Bay Area’s last sources of affordable housing.
The Bay Area’s floating home communities (425 in Sausalito, 10 in Richmond, and 42 in Alameda) provide housing for one of the most economically diverse populations in the region, including many seniors and others living on low and fixed incomes. These floating home marinas provide some of the only naturally occurring affordable housing for healthcare workers, crafts and trades people, artists
and civil servants.
These residents own their homes but rent their berths from Marina owners. “Currently, there are no state-level protections from excessive rent increases, and there is no place to move a floating home when rents become unaffordable, floating home owners are especially vulnerable. If this is not remedied, residents on low or fixed incomes will be displaced” explained Assemblymember Bonta.
AB 252 will cap the amount a marina owner can increase berth rent per year to 3% + COLA or 5%, whichever is lower.
“This bill includes the Bay Area’s 477 floating homes within the annual rent cap law that eight million rental units in the state already enjoy,” said Anna Shimko, President, Harbor Equity Group.
Bay Area floating homes owners came together after the City of Alameda extended its rent program to floating homes. “The Alameda City Council voted unanimously to protect floating home owners from rent hikes that averaged 76%. But floating home communities in Sausalito and Richmond were still vulnerable, so we formed the Bay Area Floating Homes Association and asked state legislators for help,” said Liz Williams, Co-Chair, Governmental Relations Committee, Alameda Floating Homes Association.
Berth rent directly affects how much a floating home can sell for or whether it sells at all. Presently, there are no limits on rent increases when a floating home transfers to a new owner, giving marina owners control over both homeowners’ equity and the ability to sell their homes. In one Bay Area marina where berth rents are being doubled, a home fell out of escrow and two others have received no
offers because the berth rent is too high. “We can easily be trapped by a rent so high our homes become unaffordable to live in and impossible to sell. This is also happening in mobile home parks in the Bay Area and across the country,” said Ashley Mullins, Co-Chairs, Governmental Relations Committee, Alameda Floating Homes Association.
AB 252 also includes vacancy control for floating homes which would set a limit on how much a marina owner can increase the berth rent when a floating home sells. The bill would protect homeowners’ right to the full equity in their homes. Approximately 60 local jurisdictions in California already provide vacancy control to mobile homes, limiting the amount the space rent can be increased when a home sells.
AB 252 would correct the nearly complete power imbalance between floating homeowners and marina owners. ”My bill would establish a process to ensure that marina owners can earn a fair return on investment and produce sufficient revenue to cover maintenance and upgrades of their facilities. At the same time it would protect floating homeowners from the threat of unreasonable rent increases that could cause them to lose their homes and/or reduce or eliminate the value of their property,” stated Assemblymember Bonta.
AB 252 will be heard in a Senate policy committee this month.