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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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UncategorizedThat bizarre rent-hike eviction in Bernal Heights

That bizarre rent-hike eviction in Bernal Heights

The worse abuse of of a rent-law loophole that we’ve ever seen is creating a furor among neighbors — and a citywide discussion of yet another eviction strategy

 

Suddenly, this house in Bernal Heights is famous
Suddenly, this house in Bernal Heights is famous

By Tim Redmond

That bizarre rent hike in my neighborhood has become a social-media phenom, which shows a how just about everyone in San Francisco is talking about, and horrified by, the lengths to which landlords will go to get rid of rent-controlled tenants.

After Deborah Follingstad posted her story on Facebook, both the Chron and Curbed picked it up. It quickly went viral.

The landlord, Nadia Lama, isn’t saying anything – although she did say on Facebook that “I know my friends know the truth and I pray greedy is a word that never has and NEVER will apply to me.”

She can pray all she wants, but it’s too late: This is one of the most disgraceful examples of eviction-by-rent-hike that I’ve ever seen in this city. And tenant anger at this sort of behavior is going to come down on this landlord in a way I don’t think she ever expected.

A much-loved corner store now has a "shame" poster on it, thanks to one family member. Photo from Bernalwood
A much-loved corner store now has a “shame” poster on it, thanks to one family member. Photo from Bernalwood

See, this is happening in a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else. We’re not talking about an absentee speculator here; these are neighbors evicting neighbors.

“I was shocked,” Follingstad told me. “We’ve always gotten along. Nadia was over a couple of days ago. I had no idea.”

The Lama family, which owns a lot of property in Bernal Heights, used to operate a corner store, where I saw owner Antoinette Lama, Nadia’s older sister, almost every day. My son worked at the store when they needed help stocking shelves. We were all sad when the place shut down. Antoinette’s kids tend bar at the 3300 Club, which I have been known to frequent.

The patriarch, Chuck Lama, was, as far as I knew, a fairly decent old-school landlord – he slowly bought up property, collected the rent, and that was about it. But he died about a year and a half ago, and the property went to his kids in a family trust.

In this case, the trust shifted the house recently to Nadia. Who has created a mess.

The place is listed on city records as a single-family residence. At some point, many years ago, someone created an in-law unit in the basement. I have looked through all the City Planning Records I can find, and there is no indication that anyone got any permits to do that work.

So it apparently wasn’t a legal in-law. In-laws are fine with me – they often provide affordable housing, and the city ought to make it easier to build and operate them. But to do it legally you have to get permits.

The Rent Board doesn’t care about that – if it’s a second unit, then the building is a two-unit place and comes under rent control. Rent regulators aren’t interested in whether the second unit is legal or not.

On the other hand, if you want to turn a two-unit building into a single-family home, you need all kinds of permission, and it’s hard to get.

It’s also hard to evict a tenant who has done nothing wrong, pays the rent on time, and has kept the place up. The Ellis Act mandates relocation fees – and would prevent the owner from re-renting at a higher rate.

But if an illegal in-law is removed (again, I can find no permits for that work), then Lama argues it’s just back to what the city always thought it was – a single-family home. Not under rent control. And the tenant can’t be evicted – but the rent can be jacked up so high that she can’t possibly pay it. That’s what’s going on here.

I’m not a lawyer, but I could argue that under the spirit of the rent-control law, if the place was a two-unit building for at least 25 years, it can’t suddenly become a one-unit building. People who know the law better than me are less encouraged by that argument. Still: How you can just do this and get away with it?

Meanwhile, I wonder what Nadia Lama intends to do with the place. Realtors I’ve spoken to say the place is worth more money if it’s vacant. That way a new owner won’t have to go through the hassle (and possibly guilt) of doing what would be a perfectly legal eviction.

But by taking this route, she’s created a firestorm that has put the place on the citywide map – and with a lively and effective tenant movement in the city, the current residents will get immense support. Sups. David Campos and John Avalos are already looking into the permit situation. A new owner moving into a close-knit community where everyone know everyone will have to accept living in a place cleared by an ugly, contested eviction.

And it’s shed new light on a tactic that landlords can use — and might lead to new legislation to close the loophole. I know that Campos is already talking about it.

So this rent-hike eviction sounds like greed to me. There’s really no other way to explain it.

 

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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79 COMMENTS

  1. In 1974, if memory serves, a judge ruled that the act of offering a residential unit for rent constituted a warrant of habitability–that is, functional plumbing, lighting, smoke detectors,etc. Seems to me an “illegal” unit does not meet the standard.

  2. No, Matthew has a point. There is no way of inferring her income based on the number of reviews.

    And if she only did it for one night it is still wrong, because the rent ordinance demands that only a proportionate rent be charged for sublets. Her total rent works out at a little over $60 a day, so she should charge only $30 for a night, not $90

    And if she is willing to break one laws, how many more is she willing to break?

  3. “I was seeking to aid your comprehension”

    That’s just a tad condescending, no?

    And, no. You’re just a troll. If I stop commenting, it’s because I’ve moved on. Speaking of which, this is getting stale.

  4. I was seeking to aid your comprehension

    And just so you know for future reference, accusing someone of being a troll here is a de facto admission that you cannot refute them.

  5. And that would be her entire income off of AirBNB in 7 years. That’s about $500 per year, less than what I estimated.

    YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY TROLLING. TRY AGAIN

  6. Also, Try trolling someone else because I’m not responding again to what is likely a fake account.

    You haven’t commented on Disqus under the name Matthew Stone in 2 years. How is it you suddenly want to jump into *this* conversation and you’re only addressing me? I’m only curious as to why I’m the only person you’ve responded to.

  7. You’ve got to be kidding. You seem to really want to make this woman look like some vicious selfish capitalist, which she isn’t. She probably didn’t make much more than
    what I guessed, which I admitted was a guess. She also stayed in her
    apartment when she had guests there. I highly doubt that only 20% of the
    people who stayed there left her feedback.

    I buy and sell on eBay and because peer reviews are so important, I leave feedback every single time I buy something. And I have never sold an item on ebay in over ten years that wasn’t given feedback. I’m aware it happens, but when money exchanges hands, you LEAVE FEEDBACK. She used to charge less and she allegedly rarely used it. She only has 39 reviews. Get out your calculator.

  8. Okay, so you’ve stated 2 things that we all understand. What are you driving at? We have no proof as to whether or not she asked for a conditional use permit or if she has a temporary permit. We don;t know if she pays taxes on her AIR BnB income or not. Your remark doesn’t take this conversation in one direction or another. I don’t know why you’re commenting here. Please fill in the blanks.

  9. Not every guest will leave a review right? What % of guests do you think opted to review? I’d guess less than 20%

  10. If it wasn’t your comment, then why would you respond on their behalf in the first place unless you were confident that you shared their point of view? Your comment above is an admission to being a troll. So, uh, please stop being such a darn difficult troll already, man. Let us have a real conversation here. Please.

  11. The tenant needs to get out. I have no sympathy for her. The landlord is greedy, in all fairness, but I’d do the same thing in her shoes. Too many tenants are long-term leeches who expect to live on the rent-control dole until they die. Get them all out.

  12. She was renting it for $90 a night… how did you do the math to get $900 a year? Only 10 nights a year? Seems pretty low

  13. While this may be a joke, the idea of expropriating as many as 30,000 property owners (a unit houses 2.3 people on average, and David Chiu is on record estimating the stock of illegal units at over 30,000) is not appealing. When the city is short 30-50,000 units, what good is there in demolishing 30,000-plus?

    Illegal in-laws are not rented out by anyone greedy. The profit maximizing approach is to evict.

  14. No, I just think it’s interesting how you place 100% of the blame for an allegedly “illegal” tenancy on just one of the two parties who voluntarily engaged in that contract..

    And how you wish to discourage the provision of some of the most affordable rental homes in the city when almost all parties and interests wish to encourage it.

  15. You rant about the lawlessness of the tenant who may or may not have illegally rented on AirBnB, but ignore the illegality of the landlord profiting from their clearly illegal activity.

    I’m just trying to help you to be consistent.

  16. The legality of a unit and its permit history are a matter of public record. If a tenant fails to perform his or her due diligence before renting a place, that is their lookout.

    Landlords are under no obligation to disclose either their opinion of the legality of a unit not their opinion of whether the unit falls under rent control. Buyer beware.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the city actually wants to encourage the renting of “illegal” units because it houses tens of thousands of people, usually at lower rents. Quite why a progressive like you wishes to actively discourage something that even your progressive colleagues support is beyond me.

    Unless of course you are just being outrageous for the sake of it.

  17. No. I’ve know many who were surprised to find out that the apartments they rented were illegal. The entered into a contract with the landlord in good faith. Only the landlord should be penalized, maybe by forfeiture of their property. That would create 70,000 additional units that the city can operate as low/middle income units. Housing crisis solved, greedy landlords in prison and life is wonderful.

  18. Presumably the tenant should also go to prison for agreeing to the same illegal contract.

    I make that about 70,000 extra people locked up.

    And of course a total and immediate end to any property owner ever providing a home that doesn’t fully comply with DBI.

    I think you’ve cracked the affordable housing problem right there, Gary

  19. You haven’t proven that your conclusion derives from your premise. Or even that the premise has real-world significance beyond the odd case here and there.

    You also haven’t defined “risky”. It is my experience that tenants in illegal units complain and litigate less, because their situation is less secure. So I could argue the risk is less.

    Overall I’d say the “risks” of being a landlord in SF dwarf any special issues around the disposition of DBI permits.

  20. Right — there is a lawyer here who has a specialty in suing landlords who rent out illegal units, which is a risky proposition.

    Oddly familiar, that sentence.

  21. If you run a tourist hotel without a conditional use permit (i.e., Airbnb) or run a business out of a residence contrary to zoning, you’re breaking the law. These aren’t severe violations and the city usually doesn’t enforce, but they are and it could.

    A constructive eviction of a San Francisco tenant, which strikes me as likely the case here, likewise violates local ordinance.

  22. I think we are agreement now that you have scaled back the assessment of the legal risk of renting out illegal units to a level that corresponds with the reality out there.

  23. One lawyer with this specialty is a risk; multiple lawyers soliciting tenants of illegal units to sue is some sort of fever dream. Let’s not introduce fever dreams as straw men, what say?

    Between ‘just find a tenant for [illegal units]’ and [[t]enant lawyers filing suits against landlords of in-law units have the advantage,’ the latter advice is persuasive, and the former risky.

  24. No, a regular 60 day notice won’t work here. Costa-Hawkins banned rent control on SFH’s but unfortunately did not go the extra step of banning eviction control. So we have an odd situation in SF where SFH’s and condo’s are exempt from rent control but not from eviction control.

    It’s usually not an issue because if a landlord can charge market rent, he generally will not want the tenant to move out. Or, if he does, he can evict for cause such as an owner-move-in.

    The issue in this case seems to me the rent was made excessive and that might raise a constructive eviction presumption. That won’t stop the eviction for non-payment of rent succeeding but it may allow the tenant a remedy later for damages if she can prove that 9K a month is significantly above market. (I noted before that there are 212 CraigsList listings of places for rent in SF over 8K a month, so it’s not obvious the 9K is too high, but it probably s for a building worth only $1.5 million).

    If the rent increase had been set to a more reasonable 6K a month, I don’t think there would be a problem here, and in fact I would advise the owner to do a new notice at that rent, and lose that odd “deposit per month” mistake.

  25. I’m curious why the attorney opted for the conflated rent increase. Under the same theory since the house is now not under rent-control couldn’t they just issue a 60 Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy (not pursuant to cause like Ellis/OMI)? Or is the increase based on Costa-Hawkins since it’s a single family home in a rent controlled area?

    Folks wonder why the LL didn’t just pursue the Airbnb lease violation as grounds for eviction. The reason could be economical, as these days a LL needs about $50k to bring a UD. To try the matter could cost around that in attorneys fees and to settle would costs $10-$20 in attorneys fees and $20-$40k in buyout monies. Tenants have the real luxury of free legal assistance through massive funding from the city, which I believe is $120m a year or $325k a day…!

    The problem this LL and all that do these conflated rent increases is going to have is intent, which leads to constructive eviction defenses and if proved, an award of attorneys fees.

  26. Again, I never said the lack of permits might not be a factor in a dispute about some other aspect of the tenancy. I said that there aren’t lawyers going around advcatng for tenants of illegal units to sue their landords simply because of the lack of permits. There is no case, loss or cause of actions there,

    Most litigation around rentals in SF is with rent controlled units, and the rent ordinance applies regardless of whether the unit has permits or not. The DBI issue is secondary.

  27. Beth, it wasn’t me who made the snake-oil comment. you asked what was meant by it and i gave my best guess.

    We already know the tenant charged disproportionate rent which is disallowed by the rent ordinance. Since this tenant can break one law, why should we believe she did not break others.

    But since we have her name and address, I’ll make some inquiries and get back to you with the full range of her law-breaking.

  28. Look peeps, the LL did everything legally here. They are entitled to remove an illegal inlaw. All they need is to physically remove it, if DBI never issued an NOV. If there was an NOV, then they need to get (easily obtained) building permits.

    Secondy, this person was illegally airbnbing the joint without the LL’s permission. Plus she ran a business there. Plus she got cheap rent for over 10 years. Chick has had a great ride. Time to get off the tenant freebie gravy train and deal with reality with SF real estate. Only bone headed move the LL made was overstating the market value rent. I’d have made it no more than $5000. Perfectly defensible, and NOT a construed eviction. Sorry middle class middle aged white chick, time to get your hip on and explore Oakland. And, you can blame 35 years of obsessive rent control restrictions for making overall rents so high in this city. Restrict supply, give some people great favor (hoarding cheap rent units forever), and this is what you end up with.

    Hate the game, not the player.

  29. I am not a lawyer, but this fellow is:
    http://www.sfaa.org/july2014/1407_legalqa.shtml

    Tenant lawyers filing suits against landlords of in-law units have the advantage because of the lack of proper building permits. Small landlords have often been victimized by such litigation.

    Normally I am no fan of appeal to authority, but I’ll take David Wasserman’s word on this one.

  30. If the city doesn’t provide a way to ‘legalize’ in-laws, then what is this?
    http://www.sfbos.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/ordinances14/o0043-14.pdf

    ..amending the Planning and Building Codes to provide a process for granting legal status to existing dwelling units constructed without the required permits, temporarily suspending the code enforcement process for units in the process of receiving legal status, and prohibiting units from being legalized under the provisions of this Ordinance if there have been no-fault evictions; amending the Administrative Code to prohibit the costs of legalization from being passed through to the tenant; amending the Subdivision Code to prohibit legalized units from being subdivided and separately sold;

  31. You are aware that at best, she probably made about $900 a year throughout the time she used airbnb. So she made roughly $75 per month, which may have covered a cell phone bill. (I’m not a fan of AirBNB at all.) You can’t accuse this woman of shamelessly exploiting her situation. That’s pocket change.

  32. There also isn’t any evidence that she broke the law. She’s also licensed to practice acupuncture! You have zero evidence that she did or didn’t pay hotel or business taxes.

    And what is the snake oil? Acupuncture? So now are people who’ve never tried naturopathy or alternative medicine all going to come here and pile on as if hating acupuncture somehow makes this woman deserve to have her rent jacked up to almost $9000/month? Because I’m asking for clarification here and this is what’s implied by these two remarks.

    Please clarify.

  33. The ‘tenant is always bad and the landlord is always right’ posts usually go un-addressed on this blog.

    Regardless, your advice probably good. And thanks for clarifying that the tenant’s lease does indeed allow her to sublet.

  34. Looks like Sam is trolling as Mister Ellis (as in Ellis Act, get it?) Only eleven comments from him on this short article.

  35. So we already know that she broke the Ordinance because the rent she charged per night was way more than a fair share.

    We also know there is zero evidence that she paid her TOT, registered with the city, had permission from the owner to sublet, had the two business licenses she needed, or even paid income tax on the rents.

    And you want me to feel sympathy for her?

  36. “Follingstad rented the other room and she says her lease agreement doesn’t include prohibitions or restrictions on subletting.”
    Gary,
    instead of jumping down people’s throats when they have a difference in opinion or use generalizations and when in fact you don’t have proof either why don’t you take a chill pill… The quote above was from the sfgate article posted today.

    http://blog.sfgate.com/ontheblock/2015/03/17/bernal-heights-tenant-with-huge-rent-increase-addresses-airbnb-situation/

  37. No, you have no idea what she made from AirBnB rentals. You have no idea if she paid TOT. You have no knowledge of her lease. You have no knowledge that the tenant knew that the unit below was illegal.

    Here is what I do know from looking at her AirBnB page. There were 39 reviews going back more than a few years. The going rate was $90 for a room; renting the entire flat was not an option.

  38. What loss is created by this alleged liability? What is the cause of action here?

    Without an answer to those two questions, your putative lawsuit gets thrown out at the first hurdle.

    Sure, the odd one of these goes to court after some other problem arises. But the simple act of renting out an “illegal” unit does not, ipso facto, cause an actionable liability.

  39. srsly… NOT a loophole. The city created this monster & then they all clutch their pearls when their inability to deal w/ in-laws results in crazy outcomes.

  40. It is not necessary that this tenant made a “tidy sum”. The rent ordinance demands that she not charge disproportionate rent. So if she charged more than half her daily rent, per night, then she is already on the wrong side of the law. Throw in the fact that it is damn near 100% certain that she has not voluntarily paid any TOT and her position becomes yet more murky.

    I have seen hundreds of SF leases and none of them allow subletting. There is no evidence that her’s was an exception.

    And, she knew when she moved in (after Costa-Hawkins was passed) that she would lose rent control if ever the illegal unit was shut down. She accepted that risk. She’s had a good run for 25 years, Time for her to count her blessings and move on

  41. Who said wholesale profits? I asked how renting out an illegal unit avoided liability under 37.10B(a)(1).

    Precisely because questioning unit legality risks demolition, the expectation is not that lawsuits will happen after eviction, not before. When the citywide eviction rate is under 0.5%, there are at most a couple hundred potential lawsuits. No idea what the rate of lawsuits to evictions might be, but let’s call it 10% (which I suspect is high), so you’re talking maybe twenty potential lawsuits.

  42. I’m not defending AirBnB.

    I’m disputing that the commenter has any knowledge that the tenant made a ‘tidy sum’ on AirBnB.

    I also dispute that you know what is allowable in the tenant’s lease.

    It is a ridiculous rent hike to cause the tenant to vacate. It is an eviction.

    Funny how regressives hate potentially illegal activity except when landlords do it – such as renting out an illegal unit for several years.

  43. I have never seen a SF lease that doesn’t prohibit subletting, but there might just be a few out there. It is over 99% probably that this tenant was breaking her lease by running an Airbnb business.

    Funny how progressives hate Airbnb except when tenants do it, when it suddenly becomes a non issue.

    It’s not an eviction. She can pay the new legal rent. Or freely choose to find a new place more suited to her budget.

  44. In the cited article the tenant claims to be running a “acupuncture clinic and spa” from her home (presumably without a business license or landlord consent).

    She is also running a Airbnb business from there. There is no evidence she has landlord consent, has registered that business with the city, has paid hotel taxes, or has only charged a “proportionate” rent as the rent ordinance demands,

  45. “Almost every SF lease” is not every lease. And I doubt that you have personal knowledge of almost every SF lease.

    As Tim states, this is a ‘rent-hike eviction.’

    Don’t even.

  46. “So it apparently wasn’t a legal in-law.” In fact, there’s no such thing as a legal in-law. The city doesn’t provide a way to ‘legalize’ in-laws. The supervisors may tell people they think it’s awful, but why don’t they fix what’s been broken for years so an owner doesn’t have to live with the threat of a law suit for all the rent ever paid on an illegal unit, or an insurer claiming they can deny coverage b/c the home was operated outside legal permits? They can’t have it both ways. Tenants should also weigh carefully & make sure they understand the laws & not operate outside their written lease agreements with things like AirBnB, etc.

  47. And I laugh when hear random assholes say how we have TOO MUCH protection for renters. This is proof positive… as is the avalanche, unprecedented number of evictions over the past 2 years… that we need MORE protections, not less. A $12,000 a month security deposit, or any other outrageous bullshit like that, should be illegal.

  48. Wait… how can that building NOT be under rent control? It’s clearly built way before 1979.

  49. 39 reviews ? It’s a regular hotel !
    Air BnB is an issue- although if I were the landlord I would have an argument and make the tenant stop rather than evict over it.

  50. No, it doesn’t look like tens of thousands of landlords can be sued. It looks like both landlords and tenants can incur some additional risk with these arrangements.

    But if there were wholesale profits to be made by every tenant of an illegal unit suing their landlords, then you can bet there would be dozens of bright spark lawyers loading up on that gravy train.

    You have not made a case for any such suit, and I am not aware of any such litigation outside of the normal UD type of thing. Indeed, any tenant who reports the illegality of their home risks a DBI demolition notice and losing their home. So they are generally a very compliant class of people.

    The only risk I know of for a landlord is that if you evict for non-payment of rent, then you will probably not be able to collect any back rent. But that is often the case with any UD, as landlords are always advised to not accept rent after issuing the UD notice.

  51. Tim, can you explain what the problem is here? Any unit that is exempt from rent control can have large rent increases. I upped the rent by 50% on one of my units one year. Sure the tenant left shortly afterwards but they knew and accepted the risks when they rented the place.

    So is your problem that many SF homes are not covered by rent control? The only thing that made this unit fall under rent control was the other illegal unit which, you admit, had no permits and therefore should not have existed. The owners complied with the law by demolishing it.

    Which means it is again the single family home the city always thought it was, and therefore there is no rent control. Sure, 9K a month rent is excessive. But 6K a month rent is probably reasonable for a $1.5 million home. Would that fix the problem for you?

    Oh, and if you think that a home that was once under rent control should eternally be under rent control, then do you also agree with the opposite – that any unit that is exempt from rent control shall remain exempt from rent control forever?

  52. Lawyers don’t sue landlords, tenants sue landlords. It is common that lawyers specialize in particular types of cases.

    Per Salazar, renting out an illegal unit either is facially illegal or nonconforming but correctable. How do both of these not immediately violate 37.10B(a)(1)?

    IANAL and this is not advice, but it looks like tens of thousands of property owners who rent out illegal units can all be sued.

  53. Almost every SF lease forbids subletting, so the landlord would have a case here for eviction for breaking her lease.

    But of course she isn’t being evicted at all. The only issue here I can see is that the 9K rent is above market, and so this might be deemed a constructive eviction.

    I read somewhere that the property is valued at around 1.5 million. That implies a fair market rent is probably around 6K a month or so.

    The property owner would be well advised to issue a new notice.

  54. That is not a lawyer suing any landlord for renting out an illegal unit, which is what you implied.

    It is well known that it’s easy to evict a tenant who is in an illegal unit and that, in so doing, a landlord may fail to get a judgement for any uncollected rent.

    But that is a long way from any claim that the tens of thousands of property owners who rent out illegal units can all be sued.

    In any event, in this case the tenant is in an illegal unit that is no longer under rent control. She appears to understand that.

  55. I do think in this case it may be a good thing to get rid of
    one more charlatan hawking her brand of snake oil to the ignorant and
    desperate.

  56. My personal favorite is:
    http://webaccess.sftc.org/Scripts/Magic94/mgrqispi94.dll?APPNAME=WEB&PRGNAME=ValidateCaseNumber&ARGUMENTS=-ACGC14541310

    As occasional light reading, consider UD tentative rulings:
    http://webapps.sftc.org/tr/tr.dll/?RulingID=3

    Videlicet also: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=10357047447631369956

    Where, as here, an occupancy violates a zoning or building code enacted for the benefit of the general public, the use itself is illegal, and the defect is thus unccorectable, the lease agreement is held to be void and unenforceable by either party.[1] The landlord is not entitled to back rent, and the tenant is not entitled to possession.

    [1] This is to be contrasted with the situation where the occupancy itself is not illegal, but the units do not conform with certain housing or building codes and the defects are, by definition, correctable. Where such defects are substantial and breach the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant may, at his or her option, remain in possession and is relieved of the obligation to pay contract rent, but is liable for the reasonable value of the use and occupancy of the property in its defective condition.

    With the standard IANAL caveat, it looks like collecting rent on an illegal unit opens owners up to liability under 37.10B (failing to provide housing services required by law).

  57. Have you seen her lease – in order to know that she was doing something wrong? Do you have access to her bank accounts to see if she was really making a ‘tidy sum’ ?

    When I looked at her listing, I think there were only 39 reviews. Given that these can go back to 2008, that hardly seems excessive.

    Regardless, AirBnB isn’t the issue.

  58. Citation? Name? I’m not aware of any such litigation.

    Remember, it is the unit that is illegal and not the rental.

    It has been estimated that there may be as many as 40,000 illegal units in the city, and the city turns a blind eye to them. Not very risky at all. evidently.

  59. Actually, my memory is that rents did not go down after ‘the crash’. I remember landlords sitting on their apartments and not renting to anyone. It was definitely not “as cheap as we had seen”.

  60. 2005 was the bottom of the market after the ’90s tech bubble burst. It wasn’t cheap, but it was as cheap as we have seen locally.

    Not coincidentally, the residential market was oversupplied. Over the prior few years, the city had lost 30,000 population while adding over 10,000 units. Funny how rents respond to supply and demand.

  61. There’s a lawyer in town who seems to make it his specialty to sue landlords who rent out illegal units. Seems a risky proposition.

  62. The irony in the current rules is that the DBI will be all over you if you own an illegal unit or expand your living space into your basement UNLESS you rent it out, whereupon the DBI suddenly looks the other way, and all the politicians say how great it is.

    So if you want an illegal unit just find a tenant for it. After all, you can always get rid of the tenant of an illegal unit. The government will give you a pass even while they are prosecuting your neighbors for the exact same thing

  63. The city has already passed legislation to legalize in-laws:
    http://sfdbi.org/sites/sfdbi.org/files/FAQ%20Legalization%20of%20In-laws%20061114.pdf

    The reason the city was so careful with in-laws is simple: it is not obvious how you get in-laws up to code without putting tens of thousands of people’s housing at risk. Regulations govern new units, and as many as 40,000 in the city never followed those rules. We want housing to be up to code, but we don’t want people evicted.

    Campos is unlikely to be able to amend the state law that exempts single family homes from rent control. There isn’t much else he can do; the current compromise, above, strikes the balance between encouraging legalization and preserving housing. Anything else the city does is either going to hurt tenants, small landlords, or both.

    Not that it matters and IANAL, but as far as I know you don’t need permits to remove an in-law unless you want to evict tenants. Vacant, the space (as before) is not a legal unit. The city may require you to bring things up to code if someone complains.

  64. This is really a storm in a teacup. The outrage seems to be because the landlord raised the rent to 9K, and that does seem excessive. But the landlord is entitled to raise the rent to market, as with any single family home or condo. A raise to 4K would have been quite reasonable and would still have had the same effect – the tenant would move.

    I might feel more sympathy for the tenant if she hadn’t had 25 years of dirt cheap rent AND Airbnb’ed the place. She has had a fabulous deal and really isn’t in a position to complain

  65. That letter has gone viral and for good reason. I’m sure this story has many nuances that will be lost. But most important is that in this time of severe housing crisis, another long-time San Franciscan is getting evicted under what appears to be shameful circumstances.

    Shame on all who support greed over humanity.

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