PLF and the Levins win: S.F. tenant-payment mandate is struck down

October 21, 2014 | By JENNIFER THOMPSON

Today U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer sided with Pacific Legal Foundation’s (PLF) lawsuit and struck down San Francisco’s Tenant Relocation Ordinance, as unconstitutional.

Under the ordinance, rental property owners who want to reclaim use of their own property must pay a massive sum to their tenants – a sum that the tenant doesn’t even have to use for relocation purposes.

PLF’s lead clients are Dan and Maria Levin, who live in the upstairs unit of their two-story home.   They would like to use the lower unit for friends and family, but they would have to pay their tenant $118,000 to withdraw it from the rental market.  As a national property-rights defender, PLF represents the Levins, as with all our clients, free of charge.

PLF Principal Attorney J. David Breemer issued this statement in response to today’s ruling:

This is a great victory for every San Franciscan who owns any kind of home or property, small or large, and for everyone who values property rights as a fundamental freedom,” said PLF Principal Attorney J. David Breemer, the lead attorney in PLF’s challenge to the relocation-payment mandate.  “By striking down this confiscatory law, Judge Breyer’s ruling makes it clear that government can’t force people to stay in the rental-property business against their will.   And government can’t force owners to pay a massive ransom in order to make use their own property.   The Constitution protects property rights for everyone, including rental property owners.  Today’s ruling should remind city leaders that the Constitution protects property owners in San Francisco, like everywhere else.

PLF Clients Dan and Maria Levin issued this statement:

We are gratified that Judge Breyer found this oppressive law to be unconstitutional,” said Dan Levin.   “We thank the lawyers at Pacific Legal Foundation for all their hard work. We now look forward to being able to use our own property for family and friends without having to pay a massive fine.

The case is Levin v. City and County of San Francisco. More information, including the complaint, a video, blog post, and a podcast, may be found here.

Contact: J. David Breemer, Principal Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), (916) 419-7111.   

Jennifer Thompson, PLF Attorney, PLF (916) 419-7111