Friday, July 5, 2013

Despite Protection For Seniors Contained In California's Ellis Act, Elderly Tenant Faces Possible Boot From Rent-Controlled Duplex Home Of 34 Years If Premises Is Sold As An Unregulated 'Tenancy-In-Common'

In San Francisco, California, the Los Angeles Times reports:

  • [T]hen there's Ana Gutierrez. For more than three decades, the 67-year-old mother of five has lived in a rent-controlled Mission District duplex. But her property is in demand in today's tech-driven economic boom.

    In November, the landlord notified Gutierrez and her neighbors that they will be evicted under the Ellis Act, which allows building owners to get out of the rental game. There's a good chance the building will be resold as a tenancy-in-common ['TIC'].
  • Condo conversions can be regulated by the city, but there's no legal mechanism for challenging the creation of TICs. Tenants rights advocates believe that if condo conversions are limited, TICs may become less popular.
  • Although tenancies-in-common exist elsewhere, San Francisco's housing scarcity has made them much more prevalent here, said Lyssa Paul, an attorney who advises those who own the units. During the last tech boom, "they sort of exploded."
  • Legislation in 2006 sought to address an eviction surge by banning condo conversions of any building where an elderly or disabled person had been booted under the Ellis Act(1) — and blocking conversion for a decade if two or more evictions of any tenants had occurred.

    Yet the number of tenancy-in-common units continued to rise, and the waiting list for condo conversions grew.

    Ellis Act evictions have increased again during the current tech boom.

    Since Gutierrez is considered elderly under housing laws, her building would be banned from condo conversion. But it could still become a TIC, and she would still lose her home of 34 years.

    "The stress we are going through is massive," she told supervisors at a recent hearing, bursting into tears. "Finding affordable housing in this city is almost impossible. We need protection."
For the story, see S.F. tenants win a battle over rental conversions (New rules will put limits on condo changeovers and the also-dreaded tenancies-in-common).

(1) In California, the Ellis Act is a state law which says that landlords have the unconditional right to evict tenants to "go out of business. Ellis Act evictions generally are used to "change the use" of the building. Most Ellis evictions are used to convert rental units to condominiums, using loopholes in the condo law.

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