Landlords face steep fines over nuisances

If landlords don’t correct nuisances in short order, they could now be socked with fines as high as $1,000 per day.

Nuisances include such things as bed bugs, mold or debris accumulation.

The Board of Supervisors approved legislation Tuesday in a 10-0 vote establishing the new penalty. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd was absent for that portion of the meeting. He had opposed the legislation during a board committee meeting.

John Avalos, who introduced the legislation, said it would “strengthen [Department of Public Health’s] role in dealing with nuisances in buildings, residential and non-residential buildings.”

The legislation drew much controversy over a provision that clarified bed bugs were a nuisance. Focusing on bed bugs, Avalos said, was missing the point of the proposal.

“There has been a lot of concern that has been raised about this legislation because I had two words in it. The two words were ‘bed’ and ‘bug.’ Bedbug,” Avalos said. “This is not the bed bug legislation but really legislation that ensures the public health department has more modern means of brining buildings in to compliance and especially dealing with landlords after there has been exhaustive efforts to bring buildings in to compliance where landlords have not been working in good faith with the department.”

The San Francisco Apartment Association opposed the legislation. “They don’t need this. It’s just a piling on by the Department of Public Health,” Janan New, executive director of the association, previously told the San Francisco Examiner.

Avalos said only a handful of landlords would notice a difference since, he said, only a “very small minority of landlords” do not comply.

“For the most part this legislation is not going to impact everyday landlords who are making sure their buildings are meeting the codes for tenants,” Avalos said.

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