Veritas Investments — SF's largest landlord, which owns and manages some 250 residential properties in the city — announced this week it will not require tenants to pay their overdue rent caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In what's being described as a "first-of-its-kind rent relief program" by a property management company of its size, Veritas announced Tuesday it will forgive the uncovered portion of a tenant's back-due rent — so long as they apply for rent-relief funds by the state's January 31 deadline.
On November 12, 2021, the Mayor of San Francisco signed legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors to extend some eviction protections through December 31, 2021. For more information go to https://t.co/2dfa4rn36y.— SF Rent Board (@sfrentboard) November 24, 2021
“We like to think of it as providing our residents an early holiday gift, in taking one more concern off their plates,” said Jeff Jerden, Veritas’ COO, in a news release introducing its “Rent-relief Backstop” program. (Though the idea of presenting someone's ability to continue occupying their domicile as an "early holiday gift" does come off incredibly Orewllian.)
“Veritas has been laser-focused on helping our residents stay safely housed throughout this unprecedented crisis, including having the farthest-reaching eviction moratorium in the country, and giving residents direct aid in the millions of dollars to date," Jerden continues. "Our new Rent-relief Backstop is the first to provide a safety net behind the State ERAP relief, removing all impediments for those who may qualify to apply.”
According to Veritas, tenants who apply to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program but are denied the necessary funds to cover accrued rent debt based on a shortage of income will see those debts resolved by the GreenTree Property Management, an affiliate company of Veritas. The aforementioned company will match the 18-month maximum coverage period offered by the state rent relief program; debts that are not covered by those funds will need to be paid by the tenant to avoid eviction and penalties.
Veritas has also said that it will not apply annual rent increases to residents who have a "pending or approved application for rental assistance." GreenTree, too, will continue to waive late fees for residents who are in the process of either applying or receiving rent relief funds
But news of the rental relief program comes after a contentious year between the property management company and the tenants who occupy its building. Per NBC Bay Area, the Veritas Tenants Association (VTA) announced a strike to withhold state rent relief applications to call out "corporate landlords," with the intent of limiting additional government funds to cover rent debt for Veritas Investments.
During the strike, VTA urged Veritas to use the previous rent relief-based funds afforded by the state’s government — a figure which came in at nearly $6M — to cover the amount of back-rent collectively owed by Veritas tenants, which, at that time, was about $5.7 million. VTA recently released a statement applauding the new program, noting that it was a "partial victory" in their efforts; VTA members on strike are continuing to call on Veritas to negotiate rent relief for tenants affected by the pandemic; members on strike will also be voting before the year's end on whether to continue the strike into January.
All Veritas residents should have received either an email or paper handout announcing the program. Those who still have questions may call the company's resident services for support at (415) 347-8600 or email their appropriate party.
As usual: The San Francisco Tenants Union remains a great resource for renters navigating evictions and rental increases — especially when considering that a large number of Veritas Investment's residential properties fall under the San Francisco Rent Control Ordinance.
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Top Photo: Property managed by RentSFNow, which is the residential business venture by Veritas Investments. (Photo: Courtesy of RentSFNow)