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Landlord found in contempt for failure to pay rents to city

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S.F. Examiner file photo

A landlord once described as a having a “special place… in San Francisco’s abusive landlord hall of fame” faces a possible jail term for failing to hand over more than $100,000 in tenant rents to the city.

Superior Court Judge Lynn O’Malley-Taylor on Thursday found Anne Kihagi in contempt of court for violation of a court order but stayed enforcement one week to give the landlord another chance to pay the city $124,900 in tenant rents collected in January. Attorneys for The City had argued Kihagi not only failed to pay but also told tenants not to send their rent checks to the city.

Kihagi was ordered to pay the city more than $2.4 million in penalties in May 2017 after City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit alleging she had engaged in a campaign of harassment, retaliation and fraudulent evictions against tenants at seven rent-controlled buildings and failed to repair building code violations. That amount has since risen to nearly $5.5 million due to legal fees and other costs.

At the time of the judgement Herrera said Kihagi “has a special place reserved for her in San Francisco’s abusive landlord hall of fame.”

“Her cruelty is stunning,” he said.

Kihagi has appealed that judgement. Attorney Isaac Zfaty, who is representing Kihagi, said he could not yet say whether his client intended to pay the amount currently demanded by the court or appeal that decision as well.

Zlaty said Kihagi had been prevented by court rulings from preventing evidence in trial that would have helped her case.

“My client has received a lot of negative publicity, but she’s not a slum lord, she goes in and puts a lot of time and money into her properties and makes them very nice,” Zlaty said. “There’s been a large group of her residents who have banded together against her and gotten the attention of the City and County of San Francisco.”

Kihagi was ordered to return to court with a cashier’s check in hand on Thursday March 8.

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