One of several recent, notable eviction cases to reach the media the case of local teacher Michelle Malliet who is being evicted by the new owners of her building in the Mission whose lawyer, notorious eviction attorney Jonathan Bornstein, argued that because Malliet's unit was an illegal in-law, her use of kitchen appliances posed a danger to the building was quietly settled out of court this week. As the Examiner reports, the settlement was reached Thursday, and the details have not been disclosed.
It remains unclear whether Malliet will get to stay in the unit, though that seems unlikely new owners Mathieu Verbeeck and Catherine Crevels went this legally dubious route to get rid of Malliet because they clearly did not want the in-law unit occupied anymore, and perhaps are planning further improvements to the property.
The case, however, sparked an outcry both from tenant advocates and all those SF residents who are sensitive to the fact that most schoolteachers can not afford to live here in the city in which they teach unless they have below-market or preferential rent. Malliet had lived in the unit at Hampshire and 20th Streets for eight years with her teenage daughter, and after Verbeeck and Crevels bought the building they gave her only three days to vacate, citing the "nuisance" and potential danger created by her use of appliances.
Malliet, a San Francisco native who graduated from SF State, said at the time, "I was born and raised here. I’m not going to be pushed out. I’ll go out fighting."
Tenant advocates protest eviction of SF Mission teacher at tech office of landlord pic.twitter.com/Y8GA2TkDga— Mission Local (@MLNow) July 7, 2016
Malliet's case also led to protests, including one earlier this month outside the film company where Verbeeck works. Also, as the Ex notes, "Activists plastered a photograph purportedly showing the couple and their child on lampposts in the area, superimposing the words 'eviction happy' over a birthday cake in the photo."
Malliet's attorney, Joseph Tobener, tells the paper that both sides are happy with this week's settlement, but he wouldn't say any more.
Bornstein tells the Examiner his clients are "just like everybody else in San Francisco. They’d like to own a house. They work hard. It’s not easy.” Also, he defends the argument about the appliances. “It was essentially a shack that was shoved in the back of a house. That nobody got hurt yet thank God. It was dangerous.”
Sadly, this probably means the appliance argument will come up again in more cases. It's estimated that there about 30,000 other illegal in-laws like Malliet's around the city.
And new data from the SF Rent Board shows that tenants in the Mission, Tenderloin, and Sunset are most in danger of getting evicted, often for "nuisance" reasons, with evictions having risen 60 percent citywide since 2011.