November 3, 2009

Just Cause Protection Coming For Non-Rent Controlled Rentals?

A vote on a Supervisor Avalos’ legislation that would extend "just cause" eviction rights to all rental units rather than just those (for the most part) built before June 1979 and restricted by rent control was postponed by "at least a week" by the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee.

The committee continued the legislation, noting more time was needed to add more information about the need for the proposal and for the consideration of possible amendments.

Topic No. 201: Overview of Just Cause Evictions [SFGov]
Rent Control In San Francisco: The Real Rules [SocketSite]
Eviction protection proposal postponed [San Francisco Examiner]

First Published: November 3, 2009 7:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Just a cheap grab for campaign contributions from the landlords.

Will never pass.

Posted by: tipster at November 3, 2009 2:18 AM

Another mostly symbolic attempt to extend rent control. Restricting just-cause evictions when the landlord is not restricted from raising the rent doesn't help most tenants much, but could provide legal headaches for landlords with litigious tenants, e.g., claiming that increases in rent are retaliatory, when there is no "just cause" for eviction.

Posted by: Dan at November 3, 2009 7:53 AM

More like a cheap grab for campaign contributions from the tenant attorny's, if you ask me. It's an unfortunate cottage industry in this city. One that I have luckily avoided paying any dues to so far.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at November 3, 2009 8:01 AM

The big problem with this is what it does to future "for sale" condos. With the tightening of bank restrictions they need a contingency plan. The only one available is "I'll rent until we see a better market and then sell." If you can't get people out you can't re-sell so the bank won't give you the money in the first place. Plus, they won't give the bridge loan for the rental time.
This really won't change much of anything with rental units, but it pulls the plug on new buildings.

Posted by: sparky-b at November 3, 2009 8:31 AM

Any buyer can do an owner move in for an existing condo by paying the tenant relocation. The seller can simply add $X to that number and the tenant is out early.

If the buyer is an investor, they can't get the tenant out but who cares, they can raise the rent to market anyway.

The only group harmed by this is if the buyer doesn't live in the building but is buying for a relative. I think you can only do an OMI for a relative if you also live in the building. But that would be a very small % of buyers and there will be plenty of other units to buy.

Sellers will still be able to sell. This won't really stop anything. But I doubt it will pass. This is just the supes reminding the owners who they need to suck up to.

Posted by: tipster at November 3, 2009 8:45 AM

this is just the supes reminding property owners who to vote against and whose opponents to support. this is just more of the same. the board of idiots pandering to the majority of the voters in this city, renters.

Posted by: anon$random at November 3, 2009 8:56 AM

This will just serve to drive rents further up, as owners adjust to account for yet another potential expense.

Posted by: not daly at November 3, 2009 9:11 AM

Just a cheap grab for campaign contributions from the landlords.

How so? What landlord would possibly favor this?

Maybe you should read the articles before you comment, Tipster.

Posted by: anonn at November 3, 2009 9:12 AM

I'm inclined to agree with anonn on this one, unless tipster believes that landlords would be in favor of this -

"We highly recommend that landlords seek the advice of an attorney experienced in this area of the law before asking a tenant to move or attempting an eviction. If a landlord evicts or tries to evict a tenant unlawfully, the landlord is subject to civil and/or criminal liability. The tenant may bring a civil action for an injunction, as well as actual and treble damages, and attorney fees. The landlord could also be found guilty of a misdemeanor, with a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment in the County jail for up to six months."

I've only heard of treble damages in antitrust cases before. Ouch!

Posted by: huh? at November 3, 2009 9:23 AM

i got treble damages once at a motley crue concert. so worth it.

Posted by: anon$random at November 3, 2009 9:26 AM

Without the "rent control" component just cause is meaningless you simply raise the rent beyond the renters ability or desire to pay. And he/she will move out

Posted by: jimmythekid at November 3, 2009 9:38 AM

huh? wrote:

> I'm inclined to agree with anonn on this one, unless tipster
> believes that landlords would be in favor of this –

I also agree that it is not a "cheap grab for campaign contributions from the landlords", but is a "cheap grab to look good (and possibly get a few campaign contributions) from tenants".

If you are a landlord with a non rent control unit and you want to "evict" a tenant you can just raise the rent and most will move on their own (and if they don't pay the new rent you can evict them for nonpayment of rent).

> I've only heard of treble damages in antitrust cases before. Ouch!

The courts often award treble damages to a tenant when a landlord does any improper withholding (or late payment) of a security deposit…

Posted by: FormerAptBroker at November 3, 2009 10:16 AM

Um, you misunderstood my point.

1. Supes threaten to do this.

2. Landlords realize they haven't been paying tribute to supes and have no influence with supes.

3. Landlords correct situation above by making sure they donate to supes reelection so they have some pull with the supes for the next time the supes get this crazy idea.

4. Supes back off.

Everyone is happy, see? And nothing changed, except the palms of the supes got greased from the landlords. Capiche?

Posted by: tipster at November 3, 2009 10:22 AM

Yeah, I capiche that you ascribe machinations and/or conspiracy to everything. No. You're wrong. This is purely for the renters because they're all most of those supes care about.

Posted by: anonn at November 3, 2009 10:40 AM

hardly. It is more just an empty pander to tenants. They pass it and it gets vetoed. They tell tenants groups, we tried but the evil mayor killed it. Please re-elect me and vote for me when I run for some other office when I am termed out.

Posted by: Rillion at November 3, 2009 10:44 AM

Problem with tipster's reasoning is that there are many landlords, mostly small-timers, rather than just a few, so you get the free-rider problem. If there was a single landlord, then his reasoning might make sense.

My own conspiracy theory is that there has long been a subconscious plot by the wealthy and powerful to strengthen their position by using divide and conquer tactics against the lower echelons. Blacks against whites, renters against owners, poor against middle class. That is, the ruling class WANTS crazy rules that ostensibly benefit the downtrodden, because only the wealthy can afford the lawyers and bribes necessary to work around the rules. The wealthy aren't small-time landlords. For the most part, to the extent the wealthy own property at all (other than their own mansions or palaces in the sky, for which rent-control and rent-regulations are moot points), they own commericial real-estate.

In other words, te pandering is to the stupider sort of liberals and renters, but the pandering is encouraged by the ruling classes.

Posted by: Fred at November 3, 2009 10:52 AM

agreed with fred. this legislation appeals to the lowest common denominator. it riles up the progessive base.

but wwhat does it do for them? nothing.

Posted by: anon$random at November 3, 2009 11:38 AM

This is not just a worthless gesture: I believe that tenants elsewhere in California have had some success in the courts arguing that large rent increases are actually an attempt to evict without cause (I don't know of any cases in San Francisco - it's a sort of odd one since so few rental units are outside the rent ordinance here) - that is the danger here. And this is the challenge to State law that Avalos is deliberately trying to provoke here - it's the thin end of the wedge to the dismantling of Costa-Hawkins and bringing all housing under rent control.

Posted by: Mr. Chiu's constituent at November 3, 2009 11:47 AM

^ which is why it will fail, even if passed by SF stupidvisors. It will be overturned by state courts, as costa Hawkins trumps provincial wacko liberals from SF (thank god.). Hence I'm not too concerned about it. It's just more fodder for the useless and lame bay guardian throw away rag.

And tippy, as for LL's, we already work and continuously support almost any supervisor/candidate that is anywhere near 'moderate' on housing issues. It's the tenant attorneys that like all this complicating bullshit. Trust me on this one.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at November 3, 2009 12:27 PM

Mr. Chiu's constituent is exactly right - this is a backdoor attempt to erode Costa-Hawkins. At a bare minimum it'll result in more litigation and Rent Board activity whenever rents are raised on post 79 units, however legally.

Posted by: zzzzzzz at November 3, 2009 12:29 PM

It's nice that San Francisco continues to waste money to handle all the litigation for laws that get overturned.

Nice. Hey, if you're used to spending mommy and daddy's money, I guess that's what you expect from a city and county government.

Posted by: Usually Named at November 3, 2009 3:32 PM

Doesn't Berkeley and Oakland have Just Cause Eviction across their entire rental stock, not just pre-1979?

Posted by: Eric in SF at November 3, 2009 4:11 PM

Because Chris Daly and his spouse own a condominium on Stevenson Street in San Francisco that had been built in 1997 & which would be subject to the change in law under the "just cause" eviction ordinance, doesn't he have to recuse himself under Government Code Section 87100 from any further deliberations or votes on the ordinance?

Posted by: Colin V. Gallagher at November 13, 2009 10:42 AM

Isn't Daly's unit a BMR so would likely have restrictions on it that would prevent him from renting it out? My understanding is that you can not buy BMR's and then rent them out to people. If so then it technically would not be a conflict of interest for him.

Posted by: Rillion at November 13, 2009 12:22 PM

According to an interview with Doug Shoemaker, the director of the Mayor's Office of Housing, posted on the SF Weekly website on 7/29/09, the Dalys had purchased the Stevenson Street condo at the market rate, and not as a BMR purchase, in 2001. So the unit is likely exempt from the "just cause" eviction requirement under the current law & would become subject to it under the change in law proposed by Sup. Avalos. Daly should not vote on an issue that clearly affects his own financial interests, even if he thinks that he is voting against those interests.

Posted by: Colin V. Gallagher at November 26, 2009 10:30 AM

I watched one of the supes hearings on this proposal and at one point Sophie Maxwell defended the criticism that this would slow future housing development in SF by saying, essentially, that it probably wouldn't and if it did "maybe that's not such a bad thing".

Yeah let's kill development that brings jobs and housing to SF! We've got plenty of both. You go girl!

Posted by: dogboy at December 9, 2009 9:54 AM

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