New Ordinance Amendment Re Increased Ellis Relocation Payments to Tenants (6/1/14)

Effective June 1, 2014, Rent Ordinance Section 37.9A(e)(3) was amended to require a landlord to pay the greater of the existing Ellis relocation payment amount or the "Rental Payment Differential" defined as "the difference between the unit's rental rate at the time the landlord files the notice of intent to withdraw rental units with the Board, and the market rental rate for a comparable unit in San Francisco as determined by the Controller's Office, multiplied to cover a two-year period, and divided equally by the number of tenants in the unit". The Controller has established a San Francisco Rental Payment Differential Schedule which will be updated each subsequent year by March 1. The schedule will also be available to the public at the Rent Board's office.

Landlords must pay one-half of the Rental Payment Differential at the time of service of the Ellis eviction notice and the other half when the tenants vacate the unit. Elderly and disabled tenants still separately qualify for the additional payment amounts.

The amendment applies to any tenant who "has not vacated the unit" by June 1, 2014. Any such tenant is therefore entitled to the Rental Payment Differential upon vacating the unit, reduced by relocation payments already received from the landlord in the case.

Landlords may file a written request for a hearing at the Rent Board to determine either of the following claims:

1. Whether payment of the Rental Payment Differential constitutes an undue financial hardship for the landlord in light of all the resources available to the landlord, with the exception of retirement accounts and non-liquid personal property such as clothing, cars, jewelry and art. The burden of proof is on the landlord. After a hardship hearing, the Rent Board's Administrative Law Judge may order a payment plan or a reduction of the relocation payment amount or any other relief that is justified based on the evidence.

2. Whether the Controller's Rental Payment Differential Schedule does not reasonably reflect the market rent for a comparable unit in the City. The burden of proof is on the landlord. Based on the evidence at a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge may affirm the Controller's Schedule as reasonable or order a downward adjustment of the relocation payment amount due.

A "Hardship Adjustment Request" form (to be accompanied by a Landlord Hardship Application) and a "Rent Differential Recalculation Request" form  (to be accompanied by supporting evidence of comparable rents) will be available on our website and at the Rent Board office on June 1, 2014. Such hearings will be given priority in scheduling to the extent possible.