(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisors ban no-fault evictions in SF through March

Supervisors approved sweeping legislation on Tuesday that would protect San Francisco tenants from no-fault evictions through March 2021.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve legislation from Supervisor Dean Preston that would prohibit all no-fault evictions until March, going beyond existing protections from eviction in place for those suffering financial impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.

Preston introduced the legislation in September to turn emergency orders into long-term protections that cover no-fault evictions such as those due to to owner move-ins, capital improvement and demolition. Landlords may still remove tenants due to violence or safety concerns.

The legislation’s effective date is backdated to Sept. 15.

“With the legislation approved today, tenants can rest assured that no fault evictions are off the table,” Preston said Tuesday. “The time has come for us to remove the monthly uncertainty for tenants during this pandemic.”

Mayor London Breed issued emergency orders in April to prohibit evictions due to nonpayment of rent and some no-fault evictions in response to the coronavirus crisis and shelter in place. The order has been extended month to month and was set to end in November.

Preston previously put forward legislation in June to create a permanent ban on evictions due to nonpayment of rent caused by coronavirus.

Breed’s order related to nonpayment of rent was partially preempted by Assembly Bill 3088, which set new, statewide rules around evictions. Under that legislation, negotiated by Gov. Gavin Newsom, tenants affected financially by coronavirus must pay 25 percent of their rent by Jan. 31 while regularly attesting to financial impacts. The remaining 75 percent of the rent, as well as missed payments between March 1 and Aug. 31, would not be cause for eviction but would remain civil debt that landlords could pursue in court.

The complicated bill largely sunsets in February, and has been described as difficult for tenants to understand and implement by advocates.

While local jurisdictions are prevented from passing further protections related to nonpayment of rent, they can establish a pause on no-fault evictions. Tenants Together, which tracks local tenant protections in the state, said San Francisco’s legislation may be the strongest in the state.

“San Francisco has definitely gone above and beyond in trying to make sure that other no-fault evictions aren’t used as a pretext to evict people who aren’t paying rent,” said Lupe Arreola, Tenants Together executive director. “[The City] is trying to do everything it can with the limitations that have been placed on them by AB 3088, which was not vetted by tenant groups.”

The next big step for San Francisco, Arreola added, would be to pass a moratorium on commercial evictions.

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