SFAA Government Affairs
Rental Housing Industry Groups Sue to Overturn Permanent Prohibition on Evictions
Temporary Restraining Order Would Suspend Law Immediately
San Francisco, CA: Today, the San Francisco Apartment Association, San Francisco Association of Realtors, Coalition for Better Housing and Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute filed litigation against the City and County of San Francisco in California Superior Court over its newly enacted COVID-19 Tenant Protection Ordinance. The housing industry is also seeking a Temporary Restraining Order which will suspend the law immediately.
The COVID-19 Tenant Protection Ordinance (the Ordinance) was enacted on Friday, June 26, 2020 after it was signed by Mayor London Breed. The Ordinance permanently prohibits a residential landlord from pursuing an eviction for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19. In prohibiting residential landlords from ever accessing the unlawful detainer procedures, the Ordinance forces property owners to try to collect unpaid rent through civil claims or by hiring a collections agency. These processes take years and are rarely successful.
In prohibiting housing providers from accessing unlawful detainer procedures, the Ordinance violates constitutional and state law, conflicts with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order on preemption and evictions, and, as drafted, will ultimately lead to more evictions as tenants are falsely led to believe that they can just stop paying rent.
San Francisco Apartment Association Executive Director Janan New stated: “During this pandemic, our members have been proactive in offering rent reductions, forbearance, and working out flexible payment plans for their residents experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. But this ordinance goes too far. No housing provider wants to evict, but by taking eviction for nonpayment of rent off the table, this ordinance will make it impossible for mom and pop landlords to collect the unpaid rent that they rely on for their mortgage, property taxes, maintenance, and utilities.”
Noni Richen, President of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute, added: “This law, along with the closure of the court system, would allow renters to live rent free from March 2020 to potentially September and beyond-- and property owners would have no legal recourse to recoup unpaid rent. Small owners are particularly hard hit by renters who cannot pay. We need the courts to intervene.”
In mid-April, the Plaintiffs warned the City that the Ordinance would have the unintended effect of increasing residential evictions. The City was also warned that its actions of passing such irresponsible legislation could force it to pay the housing industry’s attorney fees at a time when the city budget is being stretched to address many other needs.
San Francisco Association of Realtors President and CEO Walt Baczkowski noted: “We need a stay to put this law on hold immediately. By purporting to prohibit evictions for nonpayment of rent, some renters will inevitably rely on the Ordinance and will stop paying rent during the COVID-19 period without budgeting to eventually repay the amount of rent owed. When this law is overturned, those renters will be in a tough position and housing providers will have no choice but to exercise their unlawful detainer rights in order to collect the unpaid rent.”
The financial harm of COVID-19 has not been limited to residential tenants. The Plaintiffs are sympathetic to renters who have lost their jobs and are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19, and each group has dedicated significant time and resources to ensure that its members are proactively working with their commercial and residential renters to keep them in place.
However, each group involved in this litigation has members who have also been significantly harmed by COVID-19. While surveys have shown that 97% of renters in apartments surveyed have continued to pay their rent during this crisis, small property owners and owners of “Class C” properties tend to be particularly impacted and harmed when tenants do not pay rent. The Plaintiffs will continue to work with City Hall to identify and implement policies that more equally balance the interests and needs of renters and renter housing providers.
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Full Lawsuit Here
SFAA’s Government Affairs staff advocates at San
Francisco City Hall and with City departments like Building Inspection,
Planning, and Public Health on legislation, policies, fees, and ballot measures
that impact rental housing providers citywide. Here’s some of what SFAA is
working on now:
COVID-19 Tenant Protections (200375)
Ordinance amending the Administrative Code to permanently prohibit landlords from evicting residential tenants for non-payment of rent that was not paid due to the COVID-pandemic; to prohibit landlords from imposing late fees, penalties, or similar charges on such tenants; and making findings increases as required by the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
Status: To Be Heard in May 2020. Contact your Supervisor Today!
Rent Increases During COVID-19 Pandemic (200362)
Emergency ordinance to temporarily prohibit rent that would otherwise be permitted under the Administrative Code, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Status: Signed into law on 4/24/20
Temporary Eviction Moratorium Rules and Regulations for Tenants and Landlords:
Status: Updated on 4/22/20
Residential Eviction Moratorium Extended to 5/22/20
Intermediate Length Occupancy Rentals (191075)
Ordinance amending the Planning Code to create the Intermediate Length Occupancy residential use characteristic; clarifying existing law regarding the enforceability of fixed-term leases in rental units covered by the just cause protections of the Rent Ordinance, prohibiting the use of rental units for temporary occupancies by non-tenants, requiring landlords to disclose in advertisements for such units that the units are subject to the Rent Ordinance, and authorizing enforcement through administrative and/or civil penalties; requiring the Controller to conduct a study to analyze the impacts of new Intermediate Length Occupancy units in the City. Prohibits lease terms of more than one month but less than one year.
File Number: 191075
Status: Passed by Board of Supervisors on 5/5/2020
Extending Eviction Control to Units Constructed After 1979
Ordinance to apply eviction controls to units that are exempt from rent increase limitations because they first received a certificate of occupancy after June 13, 1979, or have undergone a substantial rehabilitation; extending the City’s current residential rental unit fee to these units; and making findings as required by the Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
File Number: 191105
Status: Passed; Currently in Effect
Statewide Rent Control (AB 1482) Resources
AB1482 Q & A
For more information and CAA approved forms, visit https://caanet.org/ab1482/
Prop 10 2.0 Likely to Appear on the November 2020 Ballot
Title and Summary
Fiscal Impact Estimate Report
California Apartment Association Press Release
San Francisco Chronicle- Rent Control May Be Back On California Ballot
COPA Law Now in Effect
The "COPA" ordinance requires property owners who wish to sell their apartment building to give certain nonprofit organizations the right to make a first offer on the property, as well as the right to match any subsequent offers. The law applies to all properties with 3 or more units as well as vacant land.
As of 9/3/19, anyone selling their multifamily property will have to notify a list of nonprofit organizations of their intent to sell. The nonprofit organizations will then have five days to express interest in the property and 25 days to put in an offer on the property. Nonprofit organizations will then have the right of first refusal to match private offers on the property.
SFAA and other industry groups are reviewing our options to have the courts look at the ordinance and potentially strike it down. Please reach out to the SFAA office for updates on the status of COPA.
Read COPA here.
COPA Frequently Asked Questions
You can donate to the SFAA Legal Fund to support challenges to laws like this here.
SFAA Political Action Committee and Legal Fund
SFAA’s Political Action Committee works to support and recommend local candidates and ballot measures to foster a friendlier environment for rental housing providers. SFAA’s Legal Fund is used to litigate against laws that have passed at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that infringe upon the rights of property owners.