Topic No. 205: Evictions Pursuant to the Ellis Act
The Ellis Act is found in California Government Code Section 7060, et seq. It was enacted by the California legislature in 1986 to require municipalities to allow property owners to go out of the residential rental housing business.
Pursuant to the Ellis Act, San Francisco has enacted a procedure in the Rent Ordinance that owners must follow if they are going to evict tenants so that they can go out of the rental housing business. The following procedures are required:
Step 1: The owner must serve the tenants with notices of termination of tenancy requiring the tenants to quit the premises on the effective date of withdrawal, which is 120 days after the Notice of Intent To Withdraw Residential Units from the Rental Market is filed with the Rent Board as required in Step 2.
Step 2: The owner must file a Notice of Intent To Withdraw Residential Units from the Rental Market ("Notice of Intent") with the Rent Board.
Step 3: Within fifteen days of filing the Notice of Intent, the owner must inform the tenants that the Notice of Intent was filed with the Rent Board, that the tenants have certain re-occupancy rights, that the tenants have the right to relocation assistance, and that elderly or disabled tenants who have lived in the unit for at least one year have the right to extend the date of withdrawal from 120 days to one year.
Step 4: Within sixty days of filing the Notice of Intent, elderly or disabled tenants must give written notice to the owner of their entitlement to an extension of the date of withdrawal from 120 days to one year.
Step 5: Within thirty days of receipt of a tenant's claim to an extension of the date of withdrawal, the owner must give written notice of the claim to the Rent Board.
Step 6: Within ninety days of filing the Notice of Intent, the owner must give written notice to the Rent Board and the tenants as to whether or not the owner disputes a tenant's claim to an extension. The notice must also state whether the owner is extending the date of withdrawal for other units in building.
Step 7: Prior to the effective date of withdrawal, the owner shall record a Memorandum summarizing the Notice of Intent with the County Recorder. A tenant may assert the owner's failure to record the Memorandum as a defense to an eviction action. The Rent Board will record a Notice of Constraints notwithstanding the owner's failure to record the Memorandum.
Step 8: Withdrawal of the rental units is effective 120 days after the filing of the Notice of Intent, or one year for qualified elderly or disabled tenants and any other units for which the landlord has voluntarily extended the date of withdrawal.
Step 9: After the effective date of withdrawal, the owner can file an unlawful detainer eviction action to recover possession of a withdrawn rental unit if the tenants have not vacated the unit.
Step 10: Within thirty days after the effective date of withdrawal, the Rent Board will record a Notice of Constraints with the County Recorder.
Pursuant to the Ellis Act, the Notice of Constraints imposes a 5-year period of vacancy control from the effective date of withdrawal. If the Ellis filing is rescinded, the 5-year period of vacancy control runs from the date of filing of the Notice of Intent with the Rent Board. Upon written request to the landlord, the displaced tenant has the right of first refusal if the unit is put back on the rental market within 10 years of the effective date of withdrawal - the landlord can charge only the rent-controlled rent within the first five years, but can charge market rent during the next five years.
Pursuant to state law amendments to the Ellis Act, the Board of Supervisors amended the Rent Ordinance in February 2005 to provide for relocation payments of $4,500 per tenant up to a maximum of $13,500 per unit, with an additional payment of $3,000 for each elderly or disabled tenant. The amendment also requires that the relocation payment amounts be adjusted for inflation on March 1, 2006 and March 1 of each year thereafter. Information regarding current relocation payment amounts can be obtained from the Rent Board by calling 415-252-4602 or by visiting our website at www.sfgov.org/rentboard. A list of relocation payment amounts is also available at our office.
Violation of the provisions governing the withdrawal of units under the Ellis Act may subject the owner to liability for actual and punitive damages. Please refer to Ordinance Sections 37.9(a)(13) and 37.9A for more information.