Ellis Act Reform: Learn More

Ellis Act Reform: Learn More

State assemblyman Mark Leno (D-SF) has introduced an important change to the Ellis Act that would make it more difficult for real estate speculators to evict tenants. The amendment would impose a five year waiting period before a new owner of property could invoke the Act to evict tenants.

The Ellis Act is a state law that allows a landlord to evict all tenants to get out of the rental business. When the Act passed in 1986, landlord lobbyists argued that the Ellis Act was necessary to relieve long-time property owners of the burdens of being landlords.

Since the real estate boom of the 1990′s, the Ellis Act has been regularly abused by speculators. These speculators purchase buildings populated by long-term, low-rent tenants. They then evict all tenants under the Ellis Act, and turn around and sell the units as tenancies-in-common (TIC’s) for conversion to condominiums. The 1990′s witnessed a massive displacement of low income tenants from San Francisco, and Ellis evictions are on the rise again.

Under the Ellis Act, a city such as San Francisco cannot prohibit an owner from invoking the Act to evict tenants. This provides a major loophole for property owners to evict senior and disabled tenants who would otherwise be protected from eviction by local law in cities like San Francisco.

Assemblyman Leno’s proposed amendment would impose a waiting period. Under the proposal, existing owners of property would maintain their right to invoke the Ellis Act, but new owners would need to wait until 5 years after their purchase before using the Ellis Act to evict tenants. The real estate lobby is expected to mount a major effort to fight the bill.

Assemblyman Yee (D-SF) has not yet taken a position. Please TAKE ACTION to demand that he support Assemblyman Mark Leno’s Ellis Act amendment.

For more information about this issue, visit the websites of the SF Tenants’ Unionand the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and/or read this article in the SF Examiner.

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