My Landlord Wants Me To Move Out So He Can Sell My Apartment

by | Jan 20, 2011 | Tenant Law

I live at the top of a 4-story, single-family home (garage included) with 2 owners, 1 owns the downstairs unit and my landlord owns his floor as well as my unit above him. My landlord, in addition to his investment partner, owns his unit as well as mine. The investment partner owns a 50% share. I received a call today from the investment partner that they intended to sell both the units and would offer me first and last months rent to help me move out.

I already presume that my tenancy rights are at stake, especially since this sounds like a potential Ellis Act move. My landlord and I have had numerous problems with the downstairs neighbors, who are completely irrational owners that are involved with our overall “living” situation. The investment partner mentioned that the neighbors are going to build a barricade. The other unfortunate thing about the living arrangements is we all share a washer and dryer downstairs. We have tried compromising with these owners but they really are completely unreasonable. I could even take them to court for harassment I’m sure.

I mentioned to the landlord’s investor that I would be interested in buying the property. What is your view on this overall situation. I like the property so much I am willing to buy it and either put up with or sue the downstairs neighbors. I may become part of the conversation with the real estate agent this weekend.

I went ahead and filed a “Report of Alleged Wrongful Eviction” with the Rent Board today to protect myself as this situation continues to unfold.

Any other recommendations or perspective you have that could shed some light on what I am dealing with legally would be most helpful because I am truly trying everything in my power to hang on to this place.

I’m going to try to answer your question with the caveat that I am unclear about the status of your building. Is it a single-family house legally divided into three units? When you mentioned that the downstairs neighbors are going to “build a barricade” and an “overall living situation,” I began to have some doubts. You will need to know the status of your unit to determine the correct course of action to deal with the landlord.

I recommend that you take a look at the SF Assessor-Recorder’s website. Just type in your address and pray that the goddamned thing works. I think I’ve mentioned that I hate this website, but it is better than nothing.

If you have three addresses in the building (a sign that the units may be legally divided) try to use the lowest number to find it. Do you pay your own electricity bill? If so, that also is an indicator that your building has three legal units.

Your landlord states that he wants to sell his two units. If the landlord is selling the units as tenancies in common (TICs), he is really selling partnership interests in the whole building rather than the units themselves. The units must be condominiums to be sold individually.

If the units were converted to condominiums you should be able to see that on the parcel map. The map will show three lot numbers for the building lot. You can also check the Department of Public Works Subdivision Tracking System to determine if the units are condominiums. If the units are condos they are considered single family dwellings.

I’m assuming the building was built before 1979. Regardless of your unit’s status, the landlord has to evict you for just cause. That the unit is for sale is not a just cause.Filing the Report of Alleged Wrongful Eviction was justified.

If you find that your unit is illegal (converted without the proper permits), the landlord can evict you by permanently removing the unit from housing use pursuant to Rent Ordinance §37.9(a)(10). The landlord must obtain the necessary permits and, if you have lived in the unit for more than a year, provide you a 60-day notice to vacate and arelocation payment of $5,101.00.

You can also sue the landlords, including the neighbors downstairs, for void contract. The landlords were not entitled to rent the unit at all; your lease is null and void.

If you live in a legal apartment, the landlord could evict you by moving in a close relative or, if the partner owns more than 25% of the entire building, he could move in. You would be entitled to a 60-day notice and the same relocation payment of $5,101.00. If the landlord want to sell it is unlikely he will serve an OMI (owner-move-in) notice because he has to represent that he will live in the unit for three years.

It’s hard to say if an Ellis Act eviction would be viable. Remember, the downstairs owners would have to agree and it doesn’t sound like they are very agreeable. If that does occur you would be entitled to a 120-day notice and a $5,105.20 relocation payment.

If your unit is a condo, the landlord can raise the rent to market rate because the unit is exempt from the rent control provisions of the Rent Ordinance. The most likely scenario here is that a new owner will evict you, using an OMI eviction.

Frankly, I don’t understand why you want to enter into a partnership (assuming the units are TICs) with neighbors you want to sue and landlords you can’t trust. No, you can’ttrust the landlord because he and his partner are sleazily trying to get you out. That’s why you filed the Report of Alleged Wrongful Eviction, right? Would you marry someone as irrational as your neighbors? Or someone who lies to you? Life is too short. But that’s just my opinion based upon observation (and litigation) of several TICs gone bad.

Before you do anything else, you should rush to the San Francisco Tenants Union to sort this out. Join the Tenants Union. It will be the best forty bucks you ever spend.

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