A Superior Court Judge has ruled against Anne Kihagi, the predator landlord who was sued by the City of San Francisco for waging an ongoing war of “harassment, intimidation, and retaliation” against dozens of rent-controlled tenants in an attempt to raise her rent-roll by illegally evicting tenants in the buildings which she started acquiring circa 2013.

In all, the judge found harassment, retaliation or fraudulent and wrongful evictions of tenants at seven different rent-controlled buildings in San Francisco. The judge found that the defendants harassed and wrongfully evicted 23 different tenants, and illegally harassed 10 other tenants – one of whom died.

Kihagi’s tactics included fraud; harassment; threats; intimidation; verbal abuse; interrupting
gas, electric, water, and cable service; disrupting mail service; and failing to cash rent checks, only to later claim them as untimely rent payments. She and her agents also backdated correspondence and notices; violated tenants’ privacy by entering their apartments without required notice; refused to timely abate unsafe and substandard habitability conditions; and even retaliated against tenants who cooperated with city inspectors by installing video surveillance cameras aimed at the residents’ front doors.”

In addition to awarding almost $2.4 million in penalties, $1.1 million of which is related to building code violations alone, Judge Angela Bradstreet has ordered the defendants (which included Anne’s sisters, Julia Mwangi and Christine Mwangi, and LLCs) to pay the city’s investigative costs and attorneys fees that are expected to run “into the millions.”

All pending owner move in evictions, relative move in evictions, “temporary” evictions for capital improvements, and Ellis Act notices for units in the buildings controlled by Kihagi have been declared “invalid and without legal effect” as well. And the aforementioned surveillance cameras pointing toward tenants’ units have been ordered to be removed.

Properties at issue in the litigation included: 3947 18th Street, 195 Eureka Street, and 1139 Guerrero Street, which are all in or near the Castro; 650 Church Street near Dolores Park; 69-75 Hill Street in the Mission; and 1000–1022 Filbert Street in Russian Hill.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Jackson

    This judgement certainly will make others think deeply about using such tactics in order to force Ellis Act provisions.

    Were these actual judicial findings of fraud, harassment, threats, intimidation, verbal abuse, interrupting gas, electric, water, and cable service, disrupting mail service, and failing to cash rent checks, or just trial testimony?

    It’s hard to believe Kihagi would think she could prevail in Ellis evictions with such illegal actions.

  2. Posted by scott f

    1139 Guerrero is between 23rd and 24th. That’s nowhere near the Castro.

  3. Posted by ldr

    from the comments i’ve read on this website i bet most readers are siding with kihagi.

    • Posted by Anon123

      There is a difference between disagreeing with the affordable housing requirements and breaking the law by harassing, intimidating… etc. the tenants.
      While I think there are too many BMR requirements in SF, I could never support a landlord that mistreats tenants.

  4. Posted by Notcom

    Isn’t interfering w/ the mail(s) a Federal Offense ?? Hard to believe some sharp US Attorney couldn’t make a Federal Case out of this… literally.

  5. Posted by DrElefun

    With all of the deliberate unlawful acts, a lack of remorse on Kihagi’s part and a past record of the same sort of violations, why no jail time?

    • Posted by circa z

      Generally, San Francisco’s City Attorney can only file civil cases and seek fines, monetary awards, injunctions, declaratory relief, specific performance, etc.

      Jail time, other than for contempt of a court, is the exclusive province of the District Attorney in San Francisco. Attempting to evict tenants by means other than those permitted in the rent ordinance is a misdemeanor per the San Francisco local ordinance. Fraud is a felony, but the civil and criminal definitions may be different.

      Also, in criminal court, a case must be proven (say it with me) “beyond any reasonable doubt,” which is a much higher burden of proof than the “more likely than not” standard in civil court. And then there is the issue of getting all 12 jurors to agree in a criminal case as opposed to one judge in this civil case.

      There is also a broader policy consideration of whether non-violent offenses should be punished by jail time or if it is more of a punishment to deprive this type of wrongdoer of a great deal of money, since that was the motivation for committing the offense.

      It would be interesting to follow this and see if the award is paid and if any buildings are sold in order to pay it.

      Bottom line is that at least the most recent victims of this “person” will be permitted to stay in their homes for now. I don’t know what happens if the perp follows all this with a duly noticed Ellis Act eviction. After all, she may truly want to get out of the landlord business after this experience.

  6. Posted by R

    I tried to buy that building on Filbert! Just barely missed it. Sad to see how badly it got screwed up.

  7. Posted by SF'd

    Oh well, at least a new buyers will probably purchase these buildings & Ellis now. It’s the only way out.

    I know of a sub-tenant that’s screwing her (one of her tenants died and she doesn’t know it) – kinda goes both ways except that the subtenant won’t end up in jail, but he’s equally & unfairly gaming the system. I have no sympathy for either party.

    Tenants have too many rights in SF & then they complain it’s expensive.

  8. Posted by Fishchum

    I still [think] she got off easy.

  9. Posted by Amewsed

    Owner is appealing the trial court decision, per her attorney, in the SF Examiner article.

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