All You Need to Know About Evictions Based on Owner or Relative Move-In

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An owner who seeks to recover possession of a unit for an owner or relative to move in, must do so in good faith, without ulterior motive and with honest intent. Owners may evict for a family member such as a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or the owner’s spouse or spouses of such relations. The term “spouse” includes domestic partners. However, owners who evict for these family members to move in must already live in the building or be moving into the building at the same time as the relative.

The owner or relative should move into the unit within three months and intend to occupy the unit as that person’s principal residence for at least 36 continuous months. If a comparable unit in the building is vacant or becomes vacant during the period of the notice terminating tenancy, then the notice must be rescinded. A vacant, non-comparable unit owned in San Francisco must be offered to the tenant being evicted.

An owner who wishes to evict a tenant for owner or relative occupancy must have at least a 25% interest in the building, if the ownership interest was recorded after February 21, 1991. If ownership was recorded on or before February 21, 1991, then the owner is only required to have a 10% minimum interest. Domestic partners can combine their interests to achieve the required 10% or 25% interest in order to occupy a unit.

The Ordinance generally permits the eviction of tenants from only one unit for the owner’s use and occupancy. Where a tenant is evicted for owner occupancy after December 18, 1998, that unit is designated as the owner’s unit for purposes of subsequent owner-occupancy evictions, unless the owner’s disability or other similar hardship prevents occupancy of that unit.

Tenants who are 60 years old or who meet the disability guidelines for federal Supplemental Security Income and who have lived in the unit at least 10 years, or tenants who are catastrophically ill and who have lived in the unit for at least 5 years, have a protected status and cannot be evicted for either the owner or the owner’s relative to move into a building of 2 units or more. However, tenants who would otherwise have protected status may be evicted if the unit is a single-family home or is the only rental unit owned by the landlord in the building, or if the landlord’s qualified relative who will move in is 60 years of age or older and each rental unit owned by the landlord in the same building (except the unit occupied by the landlord) is occupied by a tenant with protected status.

Any tenant who claims to have protected status must notify the owner of the tenant’s protected status within 30 days of receiving either a notice to vacate or a written request from the owner to declare the tenant’s protected status. The tenant must also include evidence supporting the claim of protected status. The tenant’s failure to submit a statement within the 30-day period shall be deemed an admission that the tenant does not have protected status. Owners who want to recover possession of the rental unit for owner or relative occupancy may contest a tenant’s claim of protected status either by filing a petition with the Rent Board or through eviction proceedings in court.

Note that failure of the owner or relative to move in or occupy the unit for the full 36-month period is evidence of the landlord’s failure to act in good faith. Each month the Rent Board selects a random sample of 10% of all notices which state owner or relative occupancy as the reason for eviction, and transmitts this list to the District Attorney for possible investigation. It is also a misdemeanor to refuse to rent to a senior because that person would acquire rights under the Rent Ordinance.

Source: San Francisco Rent Board