Tenant Rights Bill Called “One-Sided”

Supervisors say they aim to curb abuse

Last month, we discussed the tenants rights measure before the San Francisco supervisors. This month, Richard Cole of the San Francisco Daily gives us another viewpoint:

Renters in newly sold properties are being intimidated into giving up their rights, some supervisors say, and a measure before San Francisco supervi­sors is aimed at curbing that abuse. But apartment owners say it will just be one more obstacle that will end up dissuading them from renting at all.

The legislation offered by supervi­sors Chris Daly, Gerardo Sandoval and Jake McGoldrick on today’s agenda would require owners to give tenants an official list of their rights.  “They have the same rights under the new owner that they had before, but some are being intimidated into leaving,” said Daly. “And there are an increasing numbers of sales of small and medium-sized apartment buildings in the City center.”

Daly: Lawsuits over issue

Daly said there have been law­suits over the issue, but the settle­ments so far have included gag orders. The legislation amends the City’s current residential rent or­dinance to include a mandatory notice the seller must give to each tenant.  The notice includes “a statement in bold type of at least 12 points that tenants cannot be evicted or asked to move solely because a property is being sold …”

‘Another bureaucratic hoop’

But Noni Richen, head of the Small Property Owners of Francisco Institute, said the legislation may have the opposite intended effect.  “This is another bureaucratic hoop that requires action by owners without any requirement that renters take any corresponding action,” Richen said. “I might add that this sort of one-sided action by the Board of Supervisors is a major reason why small property owners get fed up and simply keep units vacant when a tenant moves out.”

She said that when estoppels notices are given to tenants at the time of sale, they have no legal requirement to sign and return them to the landlord, potentially putting building owners in a vulnerable legal position.

All sides seem to agree, however, that Daly and his fellow sponsors have enough support to approve the measure as early as today.

Political analysts note that the single biggest political divide in San Francisco is between property owners and renters, and politicians side with building owners at great political risk.

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