The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve new tenant protections that will make it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants for nuisance offenses or hike rents after certain types of evictions.
“We won a victory today for all San Franciscans who care about affordability,” Supervisor Kim said after the legislation passed. “We know from the Housing Balance report published in July 2015, that we are running in place when it comes to affordable housing.”
The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim and backed by Supervisors John Avalos, Eric Mar, and David Campos, has been dubbed “Tenant Protection 2.0” or “Eviction Protection 2.0.”
Landlords would be unable to evict tenants for adding roommates up to what’s allowed in the housing code, nuisance violations like hanging laundry or leaving strollers in the hallway, or living in illegal units without a “reasonable justification” for the eviction.
“Landlords would have to come up with a reasonable justification,” explained Ivy Lee, an aide to Supervisor Kim. “If that [justification] becomes an issue, the Rent Board would adjudicate. For example, if [the landlord] says ‘You always pay rent late, I let it go, but now that you have an official roommate I just don’t trust that you’ll be able to manage.'”
A limit on the number of roommates in a lease would not be grounds for eviction, for instance, nor would any “petty offense” like hanging laundry unless that offense continues past the point the landlord says it’s an issue. Additionally, tenants can be evicted from illegal units, like non-residential in-law units, if that unit cannot be brought up to code or the landlord chooses not to do so.
“We don’t want anyone living in some place that, for health and safety reasons, is dangerous,” Lee explained.
Landlords are also prohibited from raising rent for five years following a no-fault eviction of a tenant, a provision aimed at preventing property flipping.
“Let’s say you pursue an owner move in eviction,” explained Lee. “As long as your family member lives there for five years—fine. After five years, if they move out, you can charge market rate. But if they move out after only 6 months or a year, you have to protect rent control.”
“If you’re a landlord that’s not trying to cheat the system, it’s not going to impact you,” she added.
An additional provision to the legislation requires landlords to provide multilingual information about where tenants can seek assistance in the event of an eviction.
“As we saw a spike in the housing crisis, we also saw more and more pieces of rent ordinance where holes were being exploited,” said Maria Zamudio of Causa Justa::Just Cause, a tenants’ rights organization. “This is our first step into closing those loopholes.”
“This isn’t the end all be all, many things still need to happen,” she added. “But it is an important first step to being able to really solve this housing crisis.”
The ordinance was passed to the cheers and applause of tenants-rights advocates in attendance, but not before the Board quibbled on a provision of the legislation that allows tenants to add an unlimited number of occupants to their units up to housing codes.
“I worry about this particular provision. Even myself as a tenant in a rent controlled building, I find this provision very troubling,” Supervisor Katy Tang told the board, explaining that she’d be worried about what effect additional tenants would have on “our communal resources” and tenants living in her building that aren’t written into the lease.
“I’m am very troubled by the discussion that would actually remove this section,” Sup. David Campos, who voted in favor of the provision, said. “The fact is so many people can live in San Francisco is because they have a lot of people living in an apartment.”
The Board passed the provision in the legislation 7-4, leaving housing activists relieved by the overall victory.
“Now that Eviction Protection 2.0 is passed we have more tools to be able to cure minor violations and protect people staying in their homes long term,” Zamudio said. “This is an important step toward housing stability for all the San Franciscans.”