Fewer residents kicked to the curb

Evictions in San Francisco are at their lowest annual total in a decade — a fact that some attribute to the health of the economy and others to new pro-tenant legislation.

Declines in two types of evictions — owner move-ins and Ellis Act evictions — are among factors driving the decline.

In an owner move-in or owner-occupancy eviction, a landlord, with certain restrictions, is able to legally evict a tenant if he or she wants to move into the unit to live, or wants a close relative to move in. Ellis Act evictions, which are permissible under state law, allow a landlord to evict all tenants in order to take that building off the rental market.

Janan New, executive director of the San Francisco Apartment Association, said the eviction rate is down because of the health of the economy and the number of new condominiums coming onto the market.

“That’s slowing down the market for condo-like housing,” New said.

New is referring to buildings that were once apartments, but are then sold to a group of buyers who collectively own the building under tenancy-in-common agreements. During the peak of the dot-com boom, many people who wanted to own a home in San Francisco were buying TIC units, then applying to The City to reclassify, or convert, the building to condominiums, which would release each owner from joint tenancy and give them more individual property rights.

The flip side of that equation, Ted Gullicksen of the San Francisco Tenants Union said, was that landlords, eager to cash in on high rents, were evicting tenants to make lucrative sales to TIC buyers or falsely using owner move-in provisions to bring in new tenants paying higher rents.

Gullicksen said legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors last year prohibiting condo conversions where multiple tenants were kicked out or certain evictions occurred has resulted in fewer evictions.

Another law that has likely discouraged no-fault evictions is the result of a measure passed by voters in November that boosted the amount that landlords would have to pay in relocation assistance to tenants asked to leave their homes, Gullicksen said.

What all sides seem to agree upon is that many tenants leave apartments because their landlord made them a cash offer to do so.

“People are getting very lucrative deals,” New said.

beslinger@examiner.com

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