“Owner Move In” in San Francisco

San Francisco has very strong rent control protections that generally favor tenants over landlords. Among those protections are that landlords are precluded from evicting a tenant without a very specific reason. These are broadly known as “just causes” for eviction. Among the just causes for eviction there is another sub category of evictions called “no fault” evictions. No fault evictions are when a landlord evicts a tenant for a reason that has nothing to do with behavior of the tenant.

These no fault evictions then are subject to even further scrutiny because landlords in San Francisco so often resort to them in order to reclaim possession of there property. One of the more popular no fault evictions is the Owner Move Eviction (aka an “OMI”) which is listed under San Francisco Administrative Code § 37(a)(8).

Typically these move ins occur when the landlord or a close relative are going to move into the unit from which the tenant(s) are to be displaced.  However, even this “no fault” move in has restrictions. For example, an owner who is going to move in pursuant to an OMI which results in the displacement of tenant with school age children cannot displace the tenants during the San Francisco Unified School District school year. However, this exception also has an exception: if the displaced tenants and school children are being replaced by a relative who is also school age then the move in during the school year is allowed.

In addition to these exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions, OMI actions also require that the landlord to pay relocation fees. Each year these fees increase, but as of this posting each tenant is entitled to ~$6,000. (Though these fees are capped and subject to additional add-ons if the tenants have children or are disabled). Paying a tenant the wrong amount or trying to evict them one of the exceptions apply can ruin the entire eviction process and may force the landlord to start all over.

Recently, these requirements were made even more byzantine and difficult on landlords in San Francisco beginning in 2018: additional reporting procedures to the rent board over a period of years were instituted. Failure to follow these reporting requirements and update the San Francisco Rent Board result in ever increasing fines!

The bottom line is that if you are contemplating evicting a tenant (especially through a no fault eviction) retaining a lawyer is essential to navigating the myriad of pitfalls that counties like San Francisco have erected.

The attorneys of Jones & Devoy have experience with the San Francisco rent ordinance and can help you construct the most practical plan to move forward.