Nathaniel Y. Downes/special to the s.f. examinerBernard Strong stands in his unit at Winton Hotel

SF sues SRO hotel owners for housing violations

The San Francisco City Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit today against the owners of 15 single room occupancy hotels for housing violations. 

The defendants are relatives Balvantsinh, Kiransinh, Bahavasinh and Lataben B. Thakor, who between them own or control over a dozen SROs in the Tenderloin, SoMa, mid-Market and Mission areas. The Thakor family is accused of tenant harassment and code violations, as well as defrauding The City's taxpayers by exploiting public funds for transitional housing. 
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“San Francisco's response to our affordable housing crisis must include aggressively protecting our most vulnerable residents — and that's exactly what this case is about,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “The Thakor family has exploited low-income residents by denying them tenancy rights. They've defiantly thumbed their noses at city inspectors over pervasive code violations, which endanger residents and neighbors alike. And they've billed taxpayers for providing clients of city programs with 'clean, safe, habitable housing, when it was anything but clean, safe or habitable.” 

The City's lawsuit alleges that the Thakors used a practice called “musical rooms” to force tenants to vacate their rooms before accumulating 30 consecutive days of residency, which would qualify tenants for rent control and legal protection from certain types of eviction. The practice is illegal under state and local law, as well as The City's rent ordinance. 

The SROs controlled by the Thakor family, including the Admiral Hotel, Aldrich Hotel, Auburn Hotel, Balboa Hotel, Best Inn, Bristol Hotel, Budget Inn, Civic Center Hotel, Hotel Krupa, Jalaram Hotel, Kean Hotel, Kiran Hotel, Page Hotel, Warfield Hotel, and Winton Hotel, were infested with bedbugs, cockroaches and rodents, overrun with mold and mildew, and were missing key fire safety tools such as smoke detectors and sprinklers, according to the lawsuit. 

The full text of the suit is available on the City Attorney's website

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