Due to the world's obsession with San Francisco and its crazy rents, a story about one North Beach tenant's rent hike from $1,800 to $8,000 for a rent-controlled one-bedroom has made international headlines at this point. Indeed, some three-bedrooms in this city are renting for $8,000, even if this tenant's unit shouldn't be worth that, and indeed, SF's rent control laws are complicated however the landlord may in fact have a case here, and the tenant is also facing eviction on July 21. Nonetheless, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, in whose district this eviction is occurring, tells ABC 7 he thinks the rent hike is "preposterous," and he's working with the Rent Board to try to get the tenant's appeal decision to happen before the eviction deadline.
As we learned yesterday, this is a case of a rent-controlled unit in which the master tenant moved out a situation that would, in many cases, negate the original lease and allow a landlord to raise the rent to fair market value for any existing subtenants. 47-year-old video engineer Neil Hutchinson moved into the apartment in 2010 with two roommates, and the master tenant then moved out in July of last year. It may have taken a while for the landlord to discover this, but at some point Hutchinson was given a new lease to sign for $8,000/month, saying this was "fair market value."
Hutchinson argues that the original lease and rent-controlled rent should be extended to him, however that's going to be up to the Rent Board.
Tenants' rights are strong in San Francisco, and Hutchinson's attorney Mary Cathinewiederhold has filed a response to the eviction in superior court over what she says are "errors," and she's hoping to get a full hearing from a judge soon.
And it looks like this landlord may have a shady history dating as far back as 2007, according to this Yelp page with a one-star rating. This image from a tenant showing landlord Sophie Lau as a defendant in small-claims suit includes a note, "Sue her in small claims! She usually loses." Other reviews cite dangerous living conditions, loss of power, poor maintenance of the property, and plenty of negative interactions with Lau.
And from one 2013 review, "Don't get fooled by the beautiful hardwood floors and the great location. This place is a hellhole!!!"