The San Francisco Apartment Association and Coalition for Better Housing are preparing to file a federal lawsuit today which seeks to overturn the newly adopted and accelerated city law which requires landlords in San Francisco who invoke the Ellis Act to pay evicted tenants an upfront sum equal to the difference between their current rent and a similar market rate unit over the course of two years.
The lawyers from the Pacific Legal Foundation said they will file the case in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of homeowners Daniel and Maria Levin, a married couple who own a two-unit house on Lombard Street. The couple live in the upper unit and want to occupy the lower unit, where a renter lives. They would have to pay $117,000 after using the Ellis Act to displace the building’s tenant, PLF said.
While California’s Ellis Act allows landlords to withdraw their properties from the rental market, for whatever reason, it also provides local governments with the power “to mitigate any adverse impacts on persons displaced by reason of the withdrawal.” As such, San Francisco’s new law was carefully positioned as a means by which “to better mitigate the adverse impacts for people displace by Ellis Act evictions” rather than a means by which to discourage the legal use of the Ellis Act itself.
Prior to the passage of the new legislation, the relocation assistance due to tenants evicted by way of the Ellis Act in San Francisco had been capped at $15,795 per unit plus $3,510 per disabled or elderly tenant.