Bad faith owner move-in?

You are a long-term San Francisco tenant of at least 10 years. You live in a building built before 1979. Then you receive a 60 day termination of tenancy from your landlord that she wants to move into your home and you have to leave. Most landlord owner move-in notices state: “This notice is given in good faith and without ulterior motives and with honest intent.” But what if you suspect that the notice is being given in bad faith so the landlord can raise the rent with a new tenant?

You have two options. You can stay past the 60 days in the notice, receive a three day notice to quit and then an unlawful detainer (eviction). If you received an unlawful detainer, you would have to defend against the eviction action in the superior court. While you can obtain low-cost legal advice in San Francisco for filing a response, most legal providers will not provide a free attorney to you if you want a jury trial on the merits of the landlord’s bad faith owner move-in notice.

Alternatively, you can move out and watch to see if the landlord moves in. Under the Rent Ordinance the landlord is supposed to move into your apartment within three months. The Rent Ordinance also requires the landlord live in your apartment in good faith for at least three years. How can you tell if your landlord actually moved in? Walk by your former home. Are there free newspapers and menus left in the doorway and not retrieved for months? Are the garbage bins put out the night or morning before trash collection day? Is the name on the mailbox your landlord’s? Is your landlord’s car parked around the neighborhood? These might be clues that your landlord did not move into your home.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Tenant Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

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