Photo by Candy Michelle Smallwood

Tenants Patricia Kerman and Thomas Rapp, longtime tenants on 20th and Folsom streets who have been fighting an Ellis Act eviction since February 2012, had an unusual victory in court this morning.

Steve Collier, the tenants’ lawyer, argued in court that the eviction notice at their apartment building on 20th Street had not been properly served and therefore the notice was in violation with the Rent Board, which means they’ll be able to stay in their apartment for the time being.

Their landlord could file another Ellis Act eviction at any time. If he decides to do so, the tenants will have a year extension due to Kerman being a senior, Collier said. However, this case shows that tenants have a chance at winning as long as they fight evictions, he added.

The pair say they’ve received eviction threats since February 2012. They were served in August 2013 with an informal notice, which gave them a year to vacate as per the eviction law for senior and disabled tenants. The rest of the tenants in the nine-unit building took buyouts, but the pair remained. Since then, they’ve been publicly protesting the eviction with frequent rallies against Dattani.

Patricia Kerman has lived in her apartment for the past 27 years with her roommate Tom Rapp, who has lived there for the past 15 years.

A mix of housing activists, press and community gathered outside 400 McAllister this morning for a rally in support of the tenants before the successful hearing.

The victory demonstrates what tenants and housing activists have been fighting for years, and that tenants should fight because they have a good chance of winning, said Tommi-Aviccolli Mecca, housing rights activist with the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee, based in the Mission District.

Dattani is listed on the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project as one of the “Dirty-Dozen” worst evictor landlords. 

Today’s ruling comes within weeks of another success for tenants fighting evictions. After almost a year of public pressure, the landlord of Benito Santiago and his housemates at 149-151 Duboce rescinded his Ellis Act evictions earlier this month.

First published September 16, 2014

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Andrea hails from Mexico City and lives in the Mission where she works as a community interpreter. She has been involved with Mission Local since 2009 working as a translator and reporter.

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  1. It’s not so unusual. I was in court once and witnessed first hand Collier contest a notice 2 days before the year mark on an Ellis eviction. I think the base rent as stated on the notice was slightly wrong. Thus the judge threw the whole thing out. The opposing council expressed his frustrations as it appeared that Mr. Collier waited until the last day to have the notice invalidated. The council said this is not some big landlord but a couple trying to move into the building they bought and now they must wait another entire year to move in. I think eventually some case law will be decided on this issue that will prevent the waiting period from starting all over again due to insignificant errors on a notice.

  2. ^ I call bullshit on Tina and Mia. The Ellis act is used on ANY bldg that has too many low rent tenant-moochers. That bldg has little value as a rental property, because the rents are very low, and will remain that way until said tenant-moochers die, and even the,n usually there are children or newly appearing roommates that want to continue the low rent lease. Therefore a landlord, or a TIC converter will want to change the use of the bldg from rental to owner occupies. For landlords, it’s now making sense to Ellis, have the bldg sit vacant for 5 years (plenty of time to renovate it nicely), then re rent all the units at market rents. There are numerous benefits to the Ellis act. Kapish?

    1. Children and newly appearing roommates are not covered by rent control. Only master tenants are covered by rent control. You are under no obligation to rent to anyone not on the lease, therefore the Ellis Act is not necessary to get them out. Of course if you want to invoke Ellis and keep your unit off the market for five years that’s your right, but it sounds beyond stupid to me.

  3. Thank you, Tina. I was beginning to get nauseous, reading several of the comments above yours.

    This landlord victim hood is grating. There are other ways to earn an income, if you feel so victimized. I am a landlord in SF. We don’t have to resort to this awful treatment of tenants.

    1. The tennant can move out when ever they want … it’s called FREEDOM…. landlords should have the same FREEDOM…. It just basic fairness, but SF rent control is segregated and unfair !

  4. The Ellis Act was written to benefit landlords who want to go out of business, but the majority of the people who use it to evict are NOT landlords, HAVE NEVER BEEN landlords, and WILL NEVER BE landlords. They are speculators pure and simple, and deserve to lose. Find a way to make money that does not rely on kicking people out of their homes. There are many.

  5. What a thief. These tenants needs to pay market rate rent. Looks like he has been taking food out of the landlord’s mouth….

      1. Yes Tina, I agree 100% that Rent Control and Prop 13 must both go. They are the same coin just different sides. I also believe in a flat tax system or at least 50% flat tax system. There should be 4 major taxes. City/County/State/Federal. Each person should have to pay 50% of their portion of the budget. You ad the budget for each of the four and divide it by the amount of residents inside. For example, SF Budget $1000, you have 100 people. Each person including minors and seniors each have to pay a $5 city tax. The remaining $5 should come from the current tax system (property tax, sales tax and so forth) . This would be fair to all. Ricardo

  6. That’s no way to live. It’s more like getting a temporary reprieve on Death Row. Hopefully they’re on the waiting list for city-sponsored housing.

  7. Well done, greedy real estate thieves. Nothing is more satisfying than stealing for your personal use, someone else’s property.