July 24, 2014

Suing San Francisco for shaking down rental property owners

By Suing San Francisco for shaking down rental property owners

At a press conference outside of the federal courthouse in San Francisco, PLF announced a constitutional challenge to the city’s oppressive new “relocation assistance payment” mandate on rental property owners. If owners want to withdraw their units from the rental market so they can occupy their own property, the new law demands that they make an astronomical payment to their tenants. The price tag is so high — $117,000, in the case of our lead plaintiffs — that it effectively forces owners to stay in the landlord business whether they like it or not.

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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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