Update on Floating Home Rent Control

Kimberly Wright (l., Yellow Ferry Harbor) and Anna Shimko (Main Dock) participated in the most recent LAC meeting | photo and post by Larry Clinton

After gathering input from residents of all 10 Sausalito docks covered by the recently enacted rent control amendment to the Floating Homes Residency Law (FHRL), members of the Floating Homes Association’s Legal Action Committee (LAC) have been meeting with county and state officials to discuss possible changes to the legislation. Solid progress has been made as a result of these meetings.

Civil Code section 800.40.5 (added to the Floating Home Residency Law through Assembly Bill 252 in 2022) caps annual rent increases on floating home berths at no more than 5%. The new law precludes berth rents from increasing when a floating home is sold (referred to as vacancy control). Sausalito marina owners have objected to the new vacancy control provision on the grounds that they rely on the ability to raise rents when a floating home is sold in order to make a sufficient return on their investments to fund upkeep and capital improvements.

Contrary to rumors, Assemblymember Damon Connolly has not introduced specific legislation to amend the vacancy control, or any other portions of the law. Rather, he has submitted a spot bill saying he intends to introduce legislation in the current legislative session. A spot bill is essentially a placeholder for future language. The LAC originally believed that a bill amending vacancy control would be submitted in mid-February. However, the committee has now been informed by Asm. Connolly’s office that no bill will be proposed without the support of the Floating Homes Association and that the text could be agreed upon in March or later and still move through the current legislative session.

The LAC has compiled a summary of the dock discussions which indicates homeowners understand that the marinas should be able to make reasonable profits, but that they would not support an amendment that only reinstates “vacancy decontrol,” defined as allowing for slip rents to be raised by the marinas when a home with a 10-year lease is sold. However, they may be open to supporting (or not opposing) vacancy control changes with a few provisions, including: a) That any loosening of vacancy control must be tied to 10-year+ leases, and there must be transparent fair limits to the increases in any new lease, plus a cap; b) That there be limits on the fees and costs that at are passed from the marinas onto floating home owners (such as those newly-imposed by Waldo Point Harbor for rentals of homes, contractor parking and marine insurance costs; c) That a floating home may be transferred to heirs, trusts, etc. under the same lease terms as already apply to the home, including the up to 5% annual lease rent cap.

The LAC is regularly meeting with representatives from the County and keeping in touch with Asm. Connolly on this topic. The LAC understands that the County is also meeting with the marina owners to work toward mutually-agreeable changes to the law. The next task for the LAC is to determine how these and several other changes that would benefit homeowners might be structured.