Legislation Aims to Expand San Francisco Tenant Protections

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors' Rules Committee on Monday unanimously approved legislation that would expand eviction protections for more than 35,000 San Francisco households.

The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Matt Haney, calls for eviction controls and relocation payments for tenants in buildings built after 1979.

Currently those protections are only afforded to tenants in buildings built before 1979. As it stands, landlords in newer buildings must give tenants up to 60 days notice to leave their units and aren't required to give a reason for the eviction.

The legislation ensures that the same eviction rules apply across all buildings in the private market, not just those built before 1979.

"Just Cause eviction protections have been a critical tool to prevent evictions, keep people housed, and prevent homelessness," Haney said.

"However, there are thousands of units who are not granted the same protections--simply because they are in the building that was built after 1979. It's arbitrary, it's wrong, and it's time we change it."

Haney's legislation is being co-sponsored by Supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer, Shamann Walton and Hilary Ronen. The legislation will now go to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote.

According to Haney's office, under San Francisco's Rent Ordinance, landlords can only evict a tenant from a rent controlled building for one of 16 reasons, called just causes. One cause is nonpayment of rent and another is illegal use of the unit. If the tenant is subjected to a "no-fault" eviction like an owner moving into the building, the tenant is entitled to a relocation payment.

Back in 2009, legislation similar to Haney's proposal was passed the Board of Supervisors, but it was vetoed by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1482, which brings just cause eviction protections to every California city by Jan. 1. The new law, however, will only apply to renters who have lived in apartments and corporate-owned single-family homes, built between 1979 and 2005, for more than a year.

Haney's legislation aims to strengthen and expand protections for tenants not covered by AB1482.

"What we're proposing is to build off of the huge statewide tenant victory of AB1482 and make sure just cause eviction protections apply to nearly all buildings in the private market, regardless of when it was built

or how long a tenant has lived there. No one should have to live in fear of an arbitrary eviction," Haney said.

"When tenants can be evicted without cause, they are afraid to stand up for their rights--like asking for repairs, because they worry about retaliation from their landlords," Deepa Varma, executive director with the San Francisco Tenants Union, said. "We need to make sure tenants have a voice and just cause protections are critical to ensuring that voice," she said.

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