Turnabout, they say, is fair play. Anne Kihagi is getting a taste of this.
Kihagi, who beat out serious competition to earn a reputation as this city’s cruelest landlord, exhibited an impressive array of methods to harass and cajole long-term tenants out of her many San Francisco properties.
Among the most devastating, however, was the deployment of her large family into properties to execute owner- and relative-move-in evictions — a number of which were determined to be unlawful. To wit, in 2015 Kihagi executed an owner-move-in at her property on 195 Eureka St. at 19th, dislodging longtime tenants Ray Schreiber and Jamie Austin so her sister, Julia Mwangi, could take the married couple’s unit.
A judge later ruled this owner-move-in eviction to be fraudulent — for a plethora of reasons. Among them, Mwangi was discovered to be living in Fremont, not at the Eureka place where the tenants had been forced to leave. And, she even accepted a yearlong residency program in Portland during the timeframe when she was supposed to be residing on Eureka Street.
Kihagi has subsequently suffered a series of setbacks in court — including the largest payout in state history regarding a single housing unit. A conga line of former tenants, including Schreiber and Austin, have filed suit. And now, Mission Local has learned, the court-appointed receiver overseeing three of her properties has attempted to dislodge Mwangi from 195 Eureka Street.
“During our inspection, we discovered that Julie (sic) Mwangi … was occupying unit 4,” receiver Kevin Singer wrote in his June report to Superior Court Judge Lynn O’Malley-Taylor. Evidently, she has belatedly moved in.
“We requested Mwangi provide us a copy of her lease so we could confirm the validity of her tenancy. Mwangi did not provide us a lease but Mwangi did say she was paying $1,600 a month in rent.”
Singer subsequently wrote to Kihagi requesting a copy of the lease. An answer was not immediately forthcoming and, Mission Local has learned, he subsequently hit Mwangi with a three-day eviction notice. It was, obviously, not honored.
Last week, Kihagi belatedly answered Singer’s many missives, purportedly claiming Mwangi is not a tenant but an owner of the property, and thereby cannot be charged rent.
And yet, land-use experts tell Mission Local, this maneuver may well have played into Singer’s hands.
If Mwangi is not a tenant, she does not have tenancy rights. And, per the court documents appointing him receiver, Singer has the authority to “exclude and evict” the Kihagi-controlled LLC, “the defendant,” from the property, as well as “anyone claiming under or through the defendant therefrom who are not under valid lease or rental agreement.”
In plain English, Singer is arguably empowered to eject the ownership from this property, and Mwangi has apparently just copped to being an owner.
Should Singer move ahead with a motion for ejectment, a judge could, somewhat karmically, order Kihagi’s family out of the building they unlawfully pushed longtime tenants Schreiber and Austin out of.
Reached for comment, Schreiber described this as an “evicting the evictors” moment, and said “Our legal system is not perfect. But, eventually, people who destroy other people’s lives and toss them out of a rent-controlled apartment after 20 years — eventually she’ll have her comeuppance. This is justice. This is great.”
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