Tenant Torment - Page 2

Renters left hanging as city convenes for holidays and Newsom heads for Hawaii

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"Dufty said he was worried that if someone was in the military and was sent to Afghanistan or decided to go to Harvard to finish their master's and then wanted to return to their apartment, they'd have to pay a relocation benefit," Avalos legislative aide Raquel Redondiez explained.

So Avalos amended his legislative package to provide an owner the option of giving additional notice in lieu of making relocation payments for owner move-in eviction of a newly converted single-family home or individually-owned condominium, provided the tenant was initially given specified notice of this status.

The amended bill would also allow eviction from a condominium unit with separable title that had been rented by the developer for a limited time prior to sale of the unit, when the developer has given specified advance notice to the renters.

But Dufty still voted against the amended legislation.

Dufty's legislative aide Boe Hayward claimed the office didn't cut a deal with Newsom. "We heard Newsom was interested in introducing legislation but we haven't seen a draft," Hayward said. "Michael Yarne mentioned it."

NO DATA

Hayward told the Guardian that part of Dufty's problem was an absence of data to support advocates' claims that people in non-rent-controlled units are being evicted without cause.

"I've heard anecdotally that this has happened, but I've never seen anyone testify that this has happened," Hayward said.

He also said Dufty wants Avalos to sit down with small property owners and the San Francisco Apartment Association to hear their concerns.

Shortt acknowledged that such data is hard to come by, but noted that this data gap occurs precisely because there is currently no reporting requirement for evictions that occur in buildings built after June 1979.

"For folks in non-rent-controlled units, it's like the Wild West," she said. "Landlords can say 'I want you out' and they don't have to give a reason.

"Right now, such evictions are perfectly legal," Shortt added, noting that part of the benefit of Avalos' proposed legislation is that these evictions would be tracked and monitored in future.

She said the mayor's alternative doesn't address the larger problem. "While foreclosures are a huge piece of the problem, they are not all of it. There is all this new construction going on. And now that the housing market has turned, units that are either being built or temporarily marketed as rentals, not condos. We're gaining more units without protections. We can't just turn a blind eye and say there is no problem and wait for a crisis."

Dufty told the Guardian that he voted Dec. 15 against Avalos' amended proposal because "small property owners weren't invited to the table to dialogue. There needs to be more dialogue between tenant advocates and property owners to come to common ground."

He said owners are already keeping thousands of rent-controlled units off the market and fears they'll do the same with post-1979 units. "I don't want to legislate to the extremes and create a ripple effect where post-1979 units are kept off the market. I'm trying to find ways for folks to rent out their units." Dufty also said he hadn't seen the mayor's proposed legislation.

Shortt said she doesn't understand what Dufty hopes to achieve by convening landlords and tenant groups. "I feel like we've made it clear where we're willing to go on this, and I can't imagine anything the San Francisco Apartment Association or others might say that would convince us otherwise. Maybe it's just a torture technique."

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PROTECTING FAMILIES FROM EVICTIONS