See you in court: landlords sue to recoup payment for evicted S.F. tenants

In an effort to protect landlords who wish to invoke Ellis Act, the San Francisco Apartment Association and Coalition for Better Housing filed a federal lawsuit late last month seeking to overturn a new city law requiring landlords who invoke the act to pay an upfront sum that equals the difference between their current rent and similar market-rate unit over the course of two years.

As SocketSite reports, the San Francisco Business Times said the case was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of homeowners Daniel and Maria Levin. The owners of a two-unit home on Lombard Street, the Levins live in the upper unit and wish to also occupy the renter-occupied lower unit. In order to do this under current legislation, according to lawyers from the Pacific Legal Foundation, they would have to pay $117,000 to evict the tenant.

Before the new law passed, tenant relocation assistance for Ellis Act evictees was capped at $15,795 per unit plus $3,510 for each disabled or elderly tenant. The Ellis Act lets landlords take their properties off the rental market for any reason necessary, but also allows local governments the right to mitigate impacts on evictees, SocketSite says.

The law was approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors by a vote of 9 to 2 in April. It was positioned as an act to combat displacement of tenants rather than outright discourage use of the Ellis Act itself. Tenants who had not yet vacated their units as of the effective date of the ordinance became entitled to the full two-year subsidy.

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