Following a city law introduced by Supervisor David Campos and adopted last year by the Board of Supervisors, landlords are for the first time reporting tenant buyout agreements to the Rent Board. That's made public what was previously invisible or only known to a few: The practice of a landlord paying a tenant to leave rather than facing the difficulties of the eviction process. Landlords don't love the new system, and in fact they're suing over the law. But as of now, we're finally getting some hard numbers.
As the Examiner reports, reports have been coming in since March 9th, with 19 buyouts and 100 ongoing negotiations noted so far. By law, agreements reached must be filed within 60 days.
Of those completed buyouts reported, sums paid ranged from $6,000 to $80,000. And unsurprisingly, the highest number of buyouts and ongoing negotiations were in gentrifying neighborhoods like the Mission. That neighborhood experienced 23, SoMa had 13, the Haight had 9, and the Inner Richmond had 8. Other details of the buyouts are harder to come by, since names and details are sparse or redacted. Only reported are the number of tenants and whether they are minors, adults, or seniors. However, in some cases it's also reported if the buyout comes as part of an ongoing litigation or a home purchase.
Another provision to note from the new buyout law: Units where tenants were bought out are not to be converted to condos. Still, it's easy to imagine landlords seeking a profit in other ways after spending money on a buyout, perhaps predisposing them to raise rent or enter the short-term rental market.
"The buyouts in and of themselves are not hurting the affordable-housing market” says tenant rights attorney Joseph Tobener. He also mentions that those buyout numbers that were reported look very low to him, since his firm handes about four buyouts per month. “As long as the tenant is educated and knows about what they are losing, that seems to me a bargain we should honor,” Tobener said.
Related: How Much Should You Get Paid If Your Landlord Wants To Buy You Out Of Your Rent-Controlled Apartment?