A new statewide law that will prevent Ellis Act evictions by flip-happy real estate speculators passed a judiciary committee vote 5-2 and is expected to be heard on the full Senate floor next week. The bill, SB 1439, was introduced by Mark Leno and would prevent new buyers of rental property from using the Ellis Act for five years from their date of purchase. The intent of the new law would be to return to the original intent of the Ellis Act, which was to allow longtime, mom-and-pop landlords to "go out of business" as it were and sell a property for condo conversion.
Leno and his supporters he rallied a bunch of big tech industry names behind him, including big local investor Ron Conway cite the dramatic increase in Ellis Act evictions in S.F., with more than 300 units taken off the rental market in the last year, and the majority of those were in cases where new owners flipped the properties for TIC sales in less than a year.
Locally, David Campos has some companion legislation, already passed, that will will take effect in June making tenant payouts in Ellis Act cases far higher than the measly $5,000 sums required under previous law. Starting in less than a month, landlord invoking the Ellis Act will have to pay the difference between a tenant’s current rent and two years worth of rent for a similar, market-rate apartment which depending on the neighborhood could amount to upwards of $40,000 per tenant.
But, as Tim Redmond points out, Mayor Ed Lee managed to distance himself a bit from Campos's legislation, for which he had previously voiced support. The Supervisors sent the legislation to his desk with a veto-proof 9-2 majority; however, rather than sign the bill, he simply sent it back unsigned. Redmond surmises this may be a way for him to curry favor with real estate folk down the line, or just a way to show quiet support for David Chiu, who's running against Campos for Assembly, in order not to give Campos further kudos.
Simultaneously, City Attorney Dennis Herrera is working to scare landlords with a pair of civil cases against some shady landlords who've been evicting people including disabled people in order to turn the units into illegal AirBnB rentals, or to illegally re-rent them at market rate.