Trying to stay in a rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco is simply becoming more difficult and with real estate prices booming, that’s unlikely to change. Landlords have several legal means to evict tenants with deals and many are putting the measures to use.
Between March 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013, the number of eviction notices filed with the San Francisco Rent Board jumped 26 percent compared to the previous year, according to the board’s annual eviction report.
The largest increase was in the number of landlords invoking the state’s Ellis Act — a piece of 1986 legislation that allows building owners to evict tenants as long as they evict all of the tenants in a building and as long as they keep the apartments off the market for five years. This year, the number of Ellis Act evictions increased 81 percent from 64 households evicted to 116, the report shows.
More building owners are also giving people the boot because they want to move into their units. There were 185 households affected by so-called owner move-in evictions this year, or about a 46 percent increase compared to the 127 households evicted in the previous year.
Since 2011, about 8.7 percent of owner move-in and Ellis Act evictions were in the Mission District.
The number of tenants forcing out roommates is also on the rise with roommate evictions increasing 58 percent to 41 affected tenants this year, compared to 26 last year.
Meanwhile, there was only about a 17 percent drop in cases where tenants were evicted because they breached their rental agreement.
As more families are being evicted, more people are becoming aware of the trend.
This week the arts community has rallied around the Yañez family and a protest is planned for October 12. Last week the news was filled with the case of Gum Gee Lee, 74, and her husband, Poon Heung Lee, 80, who called their rent-controlled unit home for 34 years. The Lees fought being evicted under the Ellis Act, but so far have only been able to get a 10-day reprieve.
The couple organized a protest that drew the city’s largest media outlets and more than 100 housing activists. Yañez is in the process of fighting his eviction, but tenant advocates said there are few legal means to fight an Ellis Act eviction. After they have been served with an eviction notice, elderly and disabled tenants have one year to move out.
The New Yorker published a post on the general mood of helplessness at the San Francisco Rent Board, which fields questions from upset tenants facing eviction.
The recent media attention was enough to move Mayor Ed Lee to triple the amount of funding for eviction prevention services and release $700,000 from the city’s Housing Trust Fund on Monday to provide more counseling services to those facing evictions.