The Ellis Act and your housing

California law permits a landlord to go out of business and remove her rental units from the rental market. This law is known as the Ellis Act. The law was passed by the California Legislature after the California Supreme Court held that landlords could not go out of the rental business if they retained the right to sell the property.

If your landlord is planning to “Ellis Act” your building, there are strict rules she must follow. For example, the landlord must remove all of the units in her building from the rental market. Just one apartment with, for example, a low rent long-term tenant cannot be removed from the market.

In order to remove a building located in San Francisco from the rental market, the landlord must send notices of termination of tenancy to all the tenants that the building is being withdrawn from the rental market. Tenants who are at least 62 years old and disabled tenants who have lived in their apartment for at least one year must receive a one year notice of eviction. All other tenants must receive a 120-day notice. The landlord must also file a Notice of Intent to Withdraw Units with the San Francisco Rent Board. Within 15 days of filing the Notice of Intent, the landlord must inform tenants that the notice has been filed.

There are many other technical rules that must be followed for a landlord to withdraw a building from the housing market. Tenants are entitled to receive relocation payments. Because the requirements are so technical, you might have a procedural defense to your building being “Ellised.” You should consult with a tenant attorney immediately about possible defenses if you receive an Ellis Act notice from your landlord.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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Courtney Brown
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