This article was posted on Tuesday, Dec 01, 2015

Small property owners of San Francisco Institute and local property owners have prevailed in opposing the second effort by San Francisco to substantially increase Ellis Act relocation payments.

On October 2, 2015 The Honorable Ronald Evans Quidachay, Judge of the Superior Court “ordered that Ordinance 68-15 is preempted by the Ellis Act (Cal. Gov. §§7060, et seq.) and is invalid as-applied to the individual Petitioners and on its face, and it is unenforceable.”   The court, having read the moving papers, took judicial notice of its prior ruling invalidating San Francisco Ordinance 54-14.  The case is known as Coyne et al v CCSF. San Francisco Superior Court No. 514382.  

In July 2015 the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute joined local property owners in filing a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco. The lawsuit challenged the new ordinance that dramatically increased relocation payments San Francisco landlords must give to tenants whose rental units are withdrawn under the state’s Ellis Act. (The Ellis Act is a California state law that guarantees property owners’ right to “go out of the rental business”.)

The City enacted a nearly identical law roughly one year ago, Ordinance 54-14. The new ordinance, San Francisco Ordinance No. 68-15, was introduced in February of 2015 by the sponsors of last year’s ordinance – Supervisors David Campos, Jane Kim, John Avalos, and Eric Mar. The ordinance was passed on May 15, 2015, but it was made effective retroactive to June 2014.

Under the new ordinance, each relocated tenant would have been entitled to the greater of either: a) the existing statutory relocation payment (currently $5,555.21 per tenant up to a maximum of $16,665.59 per unit, plus an additional $3,703.46 for each elderly or disabled tenant), or b) the difference between the tenant’s current rent and the prevailing market rent for a comparable apartment, multiplied over a two year period.  The new law differs from the earlier version by capping relocation payments at $50,000.00, an increase of more than 300 percent.  Also to be eligible for the enhanced payment, tenants were required to return a “declaration” stating under penalty of perjury that they will use the payment for Relocation Costs.   As this new proposal has been voided, the previously existing statutory relocation payment levels as outlined will remain in effect.

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The Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute has been successfully litigating Ordinance 54-14 in the state Superior Court action Jacoby, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco. Earlier this year, the Superior Court concluded that the enhanced relocation payments invalid under the Ellis Act and that they could not be applied retroactively to landlords who had already invoked the Ellis Act. We expect Ordinance 68-15 to meet the same fate (especially as it is made even more retroactive).

The Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute is represented by Andrew Zacks of the law firm of  Zacks & Freedman, P.C. A copy of the new ordinance is available at More information about the lawsuit is available at   

Homes for Heroes Campaign: Landlords’ Important Role in Supporting Veterans

By Sarah Marie Pierce, Outreach Coordinator for the San Francisco Department of Veteran Affairs 

Just seven percent of the overall U.S. populations are veterans, but 13% of U.S. adults who are homeless have served in the military, indicating that veterans are nearly twice as likely to end up homeless as the national average. This shocking statistic has led to a nationwide effort to stem homelessness among veterans.

In San Francisco, many agencies including the City and County of San Francisco’s HOPE office, Swords to Plowshares, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Veteran Affairs have been working together diligently to house veterans through the HUD/VASH program. 

Over the last several years many landlords have stepped forward to rent units to our veterans in the HUD/VASH Program, and for this we thank you. Due to the willingness of landlords to participate in the program, many veterans have been able to get back on their feet and have a chance at the healthy and happy life they deserve. Once housed, many of these veterans have been able to reconnect with their families, find meaningful roles in the community, and stabilize their health. This great work veterans do for themselves, their families, and their communities is nearly impossible without the first step of finding stable housing.

Landlords who express interest in the program are not obligated to rent their unit to a  HUD/VASH participant. They can meet with HUD/VASH veterans and candidates from the regular market and make their choice, just as they would in the regular rental housing market. 

Benefits of HUD/VASH to Housing Providers

Landlords who choose to rent to a HUD/VASH veteran will have the benefits that come with the Program. Beyond the satisfaction that comes from providing a veteran with a home, each veteran is assigned a social worker easily accessible by landlord or veteran if issues arise during the veteran’s rental. Landlords have peace of mind knowing they can count on a steady stream of income from the HUD/VASH Program. Realizing that landlords in the community are joint partners in the effort to end veteran homelessness, we work continually to ensure that landlords are satisfied with the Program.

For example, the HUD/VASH program listened to landlords when they said they needed rents that are closer to the market rents. We are excited to announce that as of August 13, the new payments standards are: 

  • ·         $1,240 for an SRO
  • ·         $1,654 for a studio
  • ·         $2,153 for a one bedroom
  • ·         $2,263 for a two bedroom and
  • ·         $3, 074 for a three bedroom 

If you would like to make a difference in the life of a veteran, please contact Sam Dodge, Deputy Director for Policy at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office at 415-554-6881. 

Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News.  For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at or call (415) 647-2419.