The San Francisco Relative Move-In Eviction: Keeping Your Family Close

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance permits an owner to evict an otherwise eviction-controlled tenant as long as the owner possesses the good faith and honest intent to use the property as his or her principal residence for at least thirty-six continuous months. This would enable an owner to move in with whomever they wished to share their new home, such as a husband, wife, partner, friend or anyone else. But what if the building contains multiple tenant-occupied units and an owner wants to have family live in one of those other units? Enter the San Francisco relative move-in eviction.

Under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, not only may an owner evict tenants so the owner can move into that specific unit, but an owner may also evict tenants in a different unit in the same building where an owner lives for use of the owner’s grandparents, grandchildren, parents, children, sibling, or spouse. In fact, an owner need not even be living in the building at the time a relative move-in eviction notice is served, as long as the landlord is simultaneously seeking possession pursuant to an owner move-in notice himself or herself. For example, a new owner could have purchased a tenant occupied two-unit building, serve one unit with an owner move-in termination notice, and serve the other unit with a relative move-in termination notice. The only restriction is the relative moving in must have the same good faith and honest intent to occupy the unit for at least thirty-six continuous months at the time the notice is served, just like an owner.
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How Long Is My San Francisco Owner Move-In Eviction Going To Take?

Probably a bit longer than you want, but not nearly as long as you may think. In general, San Francisco residential tenants who live in rental units that were constructed prior to June of 1979 enjoy eviction controls. This means that even though a tenant’s lease has expired, a landlord still may only evict a tenant for one of the sixteen reasons provided for in the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. New property owners in San Francisco, especially from outside the City and State, are often surprised to learn that they simply cannot have a tenant leave simply because the lease has expired. Unless the landlord has one (or more) of the sixteen “fault” or “no fault” grounds for eviction, the tenant cannot be forced to leave against their wishes.

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance permits an owner to recover possession of a rental unit from a tenant for the owner’s own residential use, as long as the owner complies with the procedural and factual requirements that are regulated by the Rent Ordinance itself. If so, an owner serves all occupants of the rental unit with a sixty-day notice of termination of tenancy. This notice of termination of tenancy requires all occupants to vacate the property by the end of the sixtieth day after the notice is served. If the tenants remain in possession after the sixty days, and the notice has expired, they are no longer legal occupants. They are considered holdover tenants who are unlawfully in possession.
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How Much Does A San Francisco Owner Move-In Eviction Cost?

Tenants in San Francisco who enjoy eviction protections can only be evicted for just cause as set forth in the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. Those causes are categorized as either “fault” or “no fault” grounds for eviction. A San Francisco owner move-in eviction is a “no fault” eviction because the tenants are not being evicted for doing anything wrong; they are not at “fault”. The Rent Ordinance requires landlords performing a no fault eviction to pay tenants a certain sum for relocation expenses in an amount set by law.

In San Francisco, no fault eviction relocation payments are regulated by the Rent Ordinance, which sets forth who and how much must be paid. First, only eligible tenants need be paid relocation money. An eligible tenant is defined as any authorized occupant of a rental unit, regardless of age, who has resided in the unit for twelve or more months. This means that an eligible tenant need not be an original tenant, nor must the eligible tenant even be on the lease. All which is required to establish eligibility for relocation purposes is that the occupant is authorized to be in possession and they have been there for at least twelve months.
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Would I Ever Have To Cancel My San Francisco Owner Move-In Eviction?

Maybe. When an owner serves a termination notice pursuant to the owner move-in eviction provision under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, the termination notice is a sixty-day notice that requires the tenants to vacate on or before the end of the sixtieth day. After that deadline, the tenancy has been terminated, the tenants are no longer legal occupants, and are considered holdover tenants. Just because they are unlawful occupants, however, they still have a legal right to possession until that right is either surrendered voluntarily by the tenants or terminated by court order.

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance requires a landlord to rescind an owner move-in eviction notice if a comparable unit becomes vacant and available prior to a landlord recovering possession. If the building containing the owner move-in unit also contained a comparable unit, and that comparable unit became both vacant and available prior to the landlord recovering possession, the notice must be rescinded. This requirement could even be interpreted so broadly to require a landlord to rescind the owner move-in notice not only while a landlord was litigating an unlawful detainer action for possession based on the owner move-in, but even after a landlord received judgment in their favor and was merely waiting for the sheriff to execute the writ of possession!
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There’s A Tenant In My Apartment: Owner Move-In

Common problem, common solution. The San Francisco Rent Ordinance authorizes an owner to move into a tenant-occupied rental unit and terminate the tenancy of all occupants in possession, however the San Francisco Rent Ordinance restricts the right of an owner to do so in a number of material ways.

First, an Owner Move-In eviction (“OMI”) requires that an owner intend to occupy the unit as his or her principal place of residence for at least 36 continuous months. Second, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance generally allows only one OMI for the entire property if it is a multi-unit property, and if there was an OMI in the past, that previous OMI unit must be the OMI unit for any subsequent OMI. Likewise, if a buyer is considering purchasing a multi-unit property with the intent of performing an OMI, it would be advisable to investigate if any OMI had occurred at the property before, and if so, that the OMI unit is one the buyer is wiling to occupy. Third, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance generally prevents an owner from preforming an OMI if any tenant in the in the unit is “protected”. A protected tenant for purposes of an OMI means either: (1) the tenant is 60 years of age or older and has lived in the unit for at least 10 years; (2) the tenant is disabled and has lived in the unit for at least 10 years; or (3) the tenant is catastrophically ill and his lived in the unit for at least 5 years.
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Superior Court Strikes Down Educator Protections: San Francsico Tenant-Protection Violates State Law

San Francisco’s attack on property rights suffered yet another defeat today thanks to the efforts of lawyers at ZFP Law. Legislation designed to limit owners’ ability to recover possession of rental units for their own use or occupancy or to recover possession to make repairs or improvements was declared invalid by a San Francisco Superior Court judge.

The Law: In May of this year, the City amended the Rent Ordinance such that landlords who want to recover possession of rental units – such as owner/relative move-in, condo conversion sale, removal from housing use, capital improvements, or rehabilitation work – where the tenants have school-age children or are employed, in any way, by a school or school system, could not terminate the tenancies except during the Summer recess. (S.F. Ordinance #55-16) For example, a landlord who wants to move her ailing, elderly mother into a unit in her building on September 1 would have to wait until next May. The legislation was sponsored by Supervisors Campos, Kim, Mar, Avalos, Cohen, and Breed, and passed unanimously with the Mayor’s signature.
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