SF Apartment : AUGUST 2017


Ellis Act Backlash

The Supreme Court shut down the local 2015 ordinance that required landlords to pay tenants who’d been evicted through the Ellis Act. The Ellis Act allows property owners to evict tenants when they want to leave the rental industry altogether. The ordinance would have required landlords to pay evicted tenants the difference between their current rent and the market rent for up to two years (maximum $50,000). The legislation was written by then-Supervisor David Campos.

According to Presiding Justice Barbara Jones, the policy was “a form of ransom which interferes and places an undue burden on the landlords who simply seek to go out of the rental business.” The lawsuit was sponsored by the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Owner Move-In Evictions

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed stricter legislation pertaining to owner move-in evictions after months of negotiation. The ordinance was written by Supervisor Mark Farrell with help from Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim.

San Francisco property owners can legally evict tenants if they or a relative plan to inhabit the apartment themselves. However, after a series of these evictions proved to be fraudulent, the city strengthened the terms.
Landlords must sign a declaration under the penalty of perjury that states their intention to move in to the home within three months of the eviction and maintain residence there for at least three years. During that time, the landlords must submit annual proof of residency.

The new ordinance will also enforce harsher penalties. Owners who don’t file the annual paperwork will be fined $250 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for three or more offenses. Non-profits will now have the right to sue landlords on behalf of tenants who feel they’ve been wrongfully evicted.

Under state law, if an owner decides to re-rent the unit, it must first be offered to the evicted tenants at the same rent they were paying before the owner move-in eviction. For more on owner move-in evictions, see page 38.


SB540, the Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone, written by Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside), is currently awaiting a decision at the assembly. The bill aims to help local governments eliminate the delays that backlog housing construction. In high priority areas, local governments would have new tools for environmental reviews and planning, and encourage public engagement in land-use decisions.

Before housing projects are proposed, developers will have open access to all conditions of the development, including traffic mitigation measures, parking requirements, design-review standards, and items required through the California Environmental Quality Act. No further environmental reviews would be required, which could shorten the development timeline by up to two years.

Fire-Safety Ordinance Update

After hearing feedback from members about the confusing and byzantine fire-safety requirements that were legislated in late 2016, SFAA staff met with Supervisor Katy Tang in an effort to simplify and streamline the requirements. Supervisor Tang understood that the way the requirements were interpreted by various city departments made them exceedingly difficult for property owners to comply with; she introduced legislation to amend the fire-safety regulations. Her proposal passed through the Land Use Committee at the Board of Supervisors, and will become law this summer.

Please stay tuned for an announcement from SFAA on what exactly has changed with the fire safety requirements, as well as what is still required by the existing regulations.

Soft-Story Retrofit Reminder

The September deadlines for the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit program are quickly approaching. Take the next step to ensure your property, and your tenants, are better protected by complying with San Francisco’s Mandatory Soft Story Program (MSSP). Failure to submit permits and plans to DBI by the deadline will result in code enforcement action and fines.

Tier-One Soft Story Property Owners—If you are a property owner of a building containing educational, assembly, or residential care facility uses (Building Code Occupancy E, A, R2.1, R3.1, or R4), your completion of work and issuance of certificate of final completion is due September 15, 2017.

Tier-Three Soft Story Property Owners— If you are a property owner of a multi-unit building with three or more stories, five or more units, your permit application must be filed with the Department of Building Inspection by no later than September 15, 2017.

For more information, visit www.sfdbi.org.


On June 26, the San Francisco Apartment Association in conjunction with Supervisor Peskin’s office, the Planning Department, San Francisco Rent Board, Department of Building Inspection, the San Francisco Fire Department and others held a public meeting about Accessory Dwelling Units. The Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program allows homeowners of single-family homes and multi-unit buildings to add additional rental units within the floor plate of existing buildings. The event drew more than 250 San Francisco property owners. For more information on this program or to view a video presentation on the program, visit sfaa.org or sf-planning.org/accessory-dwelling-units.

SFAA Website Revamp

The SFAA has upgraded and redesigned its website for a better user experience. Members can now more easily access forms, register for events and classes, view videos of member meetings, browse the magazine, and review the vendor directory, among other improvements.

SFAA June Member Meeting

The June 19th SFAA member meeting was held at the Jewish Community Center in Kanbar Hall. The meeting began with the monthly Legal Q & A, moderated by Dave Wasserman of Wasserman & Stern, followed by a welcome and legislative update. The Legal Q & A focused on owner move-in evictions and the Ellis Act ruling.

The meeting then moved on to a panel on the Top Property Management Questions for 2017. SFAA property management members talked about the policies and procedures that they use when dealing with tenants and the most common issues that arise. The panel gave advice on how property management companies, big and small, can develop and improve their business.