The lawyer of a San Francisco landlord who raised her tenant's rent by 400 percent blames San Francisco County — and the tenant's AirBnB business — for the increase.
Deb Follingstand used to pay about $2,100 a month for the now-controversial two-bedroom apartment in Bernal Heights where she's lived since 2004. On Tuesday, the acupuncturist who works with cancer patients took to Facebook to post a notice received from her landlord Nadia Lama informing her that her rent was being raised to $8,900 a month and her security deposit was going up to $12,500.
"The rent increase that has generated this controversy is actually an offer by the owner to rent a substantially larger home than was originally rented," attorney Denise Leadbetter wrote in a statement published on SFGate. "In addition to the upper level (in which tenant currently resides), Ms. Follingstad will have access to at least 60% more space which can be used by the tenant to offset the rent increase through her existing Air BnB business. As interested parties are now aware, there are many sides to a story. Rent Control Ordinances create unreasonable expectations upon which tenants rely. In this case, rent control simply does not apply to this tenancy."
In an interview with KQED News, Follingstad acknowledged that she did occasionally rent part of her apartment out on AirBnB to help piece together her "hand to mouth" living, but also said the letter she received made a point of saying that she could not use this vacant space.
According to KQED, the property is actually part of a dispute within the Lama family, who turned to the court system to help divide up assets including multiple San Francisco homes left to them by their late parents. Under an agreement, Nadia Lama is to vacate her home, just two houses away from Follingstad's, in April or pay four siblings $4,000 per month, "and if she does anything to interfere with their renting out the home she’s supposed to vacate, she’ll owe her siblings $10,000 in damages."
"San Francisco County unfairly burdens small property owners with a societal problem that should be shared by all residents – not just those whose owners’ whose properties were built prior to June 13, 1979," wrote Leadbetter. "Small property owners are not being subsidized by the government for what is truly a problem for all of society."