Court Strikes Relocation 'Belief Requirement' in Ellis Evictions

Court Strikes Relocation 'Belief Requirement' in Ellis Evictions

Rent Ordinance section 37.9A(e)(4) requires landlords who seek to evict tenants under the Ellis Act to notify the tenants about their rights to receive relocation payments, and to state "the amount of payment which the landlord believes to be due" i.e. the belief requirement. In a decision issued on January 31, 2006 in the case of Johnson v. CCSF (Court of Appeal No. A111355, Superior Court Case No. 505273), the Court of Appeal found that the belief requirement impermissibly shifted the burden of proving eligibility for relocation payment from the tenant to the landlord and was therefore not authorized and preempted by the Ellis Act. Accordingly, landlords are no longer required to state the amount of relocation payment the landlord believes to be due to the tenant. The Court did not address the separate challenge to the amount of relocation assistance required to be paid to tenants, which will be decided in the pending Pierri v.CCSF  appeal.