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 After almost a year of public pressure, the landlord of Benito Santiago and his housemates at 149-151 Duboce rescinded his Ellis Act evictions earlier this month.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