August 12, 2014

SF Takes Landlords Property; Gives it to Tenants

By SF Takes Landlords Property; Gives it to Tenants

PLF is challenging San Francisco’s new “Relocation Assistance Payment Ordinance,” because it requires rental property owners to pay their tenants oppressive and unconstitutional sums of money before the owners can regain personal use of their property — money the tenants can use for any private purpose they wish.

PLF attorneys filed the challenge on behalf of homeowners Daniel and Maria Levin, a married couple who own a small two-unit house on Lombard Street.  They live in the upper unit, but are effectively denied the right to take occupancy of the lower unit, because of the costly payment — $117,000, in their case — required by the new ordinance.

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Levin v. City and County of San Francisco

Dan and Maria Levin live in the upstairs unit of their two-story home in San Francisco, California. They would like to use the lower unit for friends and family, but a city ordinance required them to pay their tenant $118,000 to withdraw the unit from the rental market. This amount represents the difference between the tenant’s existing, rent-controlled rate and the cost of acquiring a comparable unit at open market rates, for two years. Representing the Levins and others, PLF successfully sued to strike down this ordinance as an unconstitutional taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment and violation of California’s Ellis Act, which guarantees to property owners the right to take property off the rental market.

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