Topic No. 204: Evictions Based on Owner or Relative Move-In

A landlord may recover possession of a rental unit for the occupancy of the owner or a relative of the owner for use as their principal residence for a period of at least 36 continuous months. A relative move-in eviction is only permitted for certain close relatives of the owner, including a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or the owner's spouse or spouses of such relations. The term “spouse” includes domestic partners. However, owners who evict for these relatives to move in must already live in the building or be moving into the building at the same time as the relative.

The owner or relative should move into the unit within three months and intend to occupy the unit as that person’s principal residence for at least 36 continuous months. If a comparable unit in the building is vacant or becomes vacant during the period of the notice terminating tenancy, then the notice must be rescinded. A vacant, non-comparable unit owned in San Francisco must be offered to the tenant being evicted.

An owner who wishes to evict a tenant for owner or relative occupancy must have at least a 25% interest in the building, if the ownership interest was recorded after February 21, 1991. If ownership was recorded on or before February 21, 1991, then the owner is only required to have a 10% minimum interest. Domestic partners can combine their interests to achieve the required 10% or 25% interest in order to occupy a unit.

The Ordinance generally permits the eviction of tenants from only one unit per building for the owner's use and occupancy. Where a tenant is evicted for owner occupancy after December 18, 1998, that unit is designated as the owner’s unit for purposes of subsequent owner-occupancy evictions, unless the owner’s disability or other similar hardship prevents occupancy of that unit.

Tenants who are at least 60 years old or who meet the disability guidelines for federal Supplemental Security Income and who have lived in the unit at least 10 years, or tenants who are catastrophically ill and who have lived in the unit for at least 5 years, have a protected status and cannot be evicted for either the owner or the owner's relative to move into a building which has 2 units or more. However, tenants who would otherwise have protected status may be evicted if the unit is the only rental unit owned by the landlord in the building, or if the landlord’s qualified relative who will move in is 60 years of age or older and each rental unit owned by the landlord in the same building (except the unit occupied by the landlord) is occupied by a tenant with protected status. It is a misdemeanor to refuse to rent to a senior because that person would acquire rights under the Rent Ordinance.

In addition, any tenant who has resided in a unit for 12 months or more and who has a child under the age of 18 who is also residing in the unit may not be evicted for an owner or relative to move in, unless the effective date of the notice to vacate falls outside the school year for the San Francisco Unified School District. However, any such tenant who would otherwise have protected status may be evicted during the school year if there is only one rental unit owned by the landlord in the building, or where the owner moving in has a custodial or family relationship with a child under the age of 18 who will reside in the unit with the owner.

Any tenant who claims to have protected status must notify the owner of the tenant’s protected status within 30 days of receiving either a notice to vacate or a written request from the owner to declare the tenant’s protected status. The tenant must also include evidence supporting the claim of protected status. The tenant’s failure to submit a statement within the 30-day period shall be deemed an admission that the tenant does not have protected status. Owners who want to recover possession of the rental unit for owner or relative occupancy may contest a tenant’s claim of protected status either by filing a petition with the Rent Board or through eviction proceedings in court.

Where an owner or relative move-in eviction notice was served before January 1, 2018 and the rental unit is offered for rent during the three-year period following service of the notice to vacate, the landlord must first offer the unit to the displaced tenant.

Where an owner or relative move-in eviction notice was served on or after January 1, 2018 and the rental unit is offered for rent during the five-year period following service of the notice to vacate, the landlord must first offer the unit to the displaced tenant and the landlord must file a copy of the re-rental offer with the Rent Board within 15 days of the offer. The tenant has 30 days from receipt of the offer to notify the landlord of acceptance or rejection of the offer and, if accepted, shall reoccupy the unit within 45 days of receipt of the offer.

Where an owner or relative move-in eviction notice was served prior to November 9, 2015 and the landlord re-rents the unit to the displaced tenant or to a new tenant within three years after service of the notice, the initial rent is limited to no more than that which the displaced tenant would have paid had the displaced tenant remained in occupancy, plus any allowable increases.

Where an owner or relative move-in eviction notice was served on or after November 9, 2015 and the landlord re-rents the unit to the displaced tenant or to a new tenant within five years after service of the notice, the initial rent is limited to no more than that which the displaced tenant would have paid had the displaced tenant remained in occupancy, plus any allowable increases.

For owner or relative move-in eviction notices served on or after January 1, 2018, there are new reporting requirements regarding the use of a rental unit following such an eviction notice. Landlords will be required to file with the Rent Board a Statement of Occupancy with at least 2 forms of supporting documentation for the five-year period following recovery of possession of the unit, unless the Statement of Occupancy discloses that the landlord is no longer endeavoring to recover possession of the unit and the Rent Board has granted the landlord's written request for rescission of the notice to vacate, in which case no further Statement of Occupancy need be filed. Administrative penalties for failure to file the required Statement of Occupancy and/or supporting documentation are mandatory in the amount of $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and $1,000 for every subsequent violation.

The Rent Board will send a copy of each Statement of Occupancy to the displaced tenant at the address on file with the Rent Board, or a notice that the landlord did not file the required Statement of Occupancy. The Rent Board will also send an annual notice to the unit from which the tenant was displaced stating the maximum rent for the unit.

An owner who seeks to recover possession of a unit for an owner or relative to move in, must do so in good faith, without ulterior motive and with honest intent.

Evidence that the landlord has not acted in good faith in an owner or relative move-in eviction may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • The landlord times the service of the notice, or the filing of an action to recover possession, so as to avoid moving into a comparable unit, or to avoid offering a tenant a replacement unit;
  • The landlord has failed to file the notice to vacate with the Rent Board;
  • The landlord or relative for whom the tenant was evicted did not move into the unit within three months after the landlord recovered possession of the unit and then occupy the unit as that person’s principal residence for a minimum of 36 consecutive months;
  • The landlord or relative for whom the tenant was evicted lacks a legitimate, bona fide reason for not moving into the unit within three months and/or occupying the unit as that person’s principal place of residence for at least 36 consecutive months;
  • The landlord did not file a required Statement of Occupancy with the Rent Board;
  • The landlord rented the unit to a new tenant at a higher rent than the displaced tenant would have paid had s/he remained in continuous occupancy;
  • The landlord served a separate owner move-in eviction notice for a different unit and has not sought rescission or withdrawal of that notice;
  • The landlord evicted tenants from multiple rental units in the same building within 180 days of the service of the owner move-in eviction notice; and
  • The landlord completed buyout negotiations pursuant to Section37.9E(c) with any other tenants in the same building where possession is sought.

Each month the Rent Board will select a random sample of 10% of all Statements of Occupancy filed with the Rent Board, and compile a list of all units for which the required Statement of Occupancy was not filed and transmit them to the District Attorney for investigation. Any landlord who charges an excessive rent for a unit within five years after service of a notice to vacate for owner or relative move-in is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a mandatory fine of $1,000 for each month or portion thereof that the landlord charges an excessive rent. Apart from the mandatory fine, the landlord may also be punished by imprisonment in the County Jail for a period of not more than six months.

In addition to criminal penalties, in cases where a landlord has re-rented a unit within five years after service of an owner or relative move-in eviction notice and charges a new tenant an excessive rent, the tenant may sue the landlord for injunctive relief and/or money damages of not less than three times the amount of excess rent collected. Non-profit San Francisco tenant rights organizations also have standing in some circumstances to bring a civil action for injunctive relief and/or damages against a landlord who collected excess rent from a new tenant following an owner or relative move-in eviction.

Landlords are required to pay relocation expenses to tenants who are being evicted for owner or relative move-in. Each authorized occupant, regardless of age, who has resided in the unit for at least one year, is entitled to a relocation payment of $4,500.00, with a maximum payment of $13,500.00 per unit. In addition, each elderly tenant who is 60 years or older, and each disabled tenant, and each household with one or more minor children, is entitled to an additional payment of $3,000.00. Each year commencing March 1, 2007, the amount of these relocation payments, including the maximum relocation expenses per unit, is adjusted for inflation. Information regarding current relocation payment amounts can be obtained from the Rent Board by calling 415-252-4602 or by visiting our website at www.sfrb.org. A list of relocation payment amounts is also available at the Rent Board’s office.

The landlord is required to give all occupants of the unit written notice of relocation rights on or before the date of service of the eviction notice and shall also provide a copy of Ordinance Section 37.9C. Such notification shall include a statement describing the additional relocation expenses available for eligible tenants who are senior or disabled and for households with children. The landlord must file a copy of this notification with the Rent Board within 10 days after service of the notice, together with a copy of the eviction notice and proof of service upon the tenant. Within 30 days of receiving a tenant’s claim for the additional payment because of age, disability, or having children in the household, the landlord must inform the Rent Board in writing of the tenant’s claim and whether or not the landlord disputes the claim. However, the Rent Board does not have authority to accept or decide petitions regarding a tenant’s claim for additional relocation expenses based on age, disability or having children in the household. Such disputes must be resolved in another forum.

 

December 2017

 

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