Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This story from back in April stuck in my craw, just a bit.

A San Francisco couple (software engineer and a realtor) bought a 6-unit apartment building for $995,000. They immediately evicted several tenants and tried to evict all 6, but were sued by a serial litigant resident, disabled, who had also bilked the previous landlord for untold thou$and$. Based on his lawsuit, both landlords were incarcerated. One member of the couple is out of jail on $350,000 bond and the other is waiting to be sprung for a $250,000 bond. Her bond was originally $350,000, but the judge reduced the bond size. I wonder why? Clearly, these people were a real danger to society and needed to be locked up. It's not like they were some rapist from Oakland, or something, $10,000 bond, etc.

Apparently in San Francisco, there is a law that residents may not be evicted in order to charge higher rents to the next residents. What I'm wondering about is the terminology and what constitutes "eviction" in California, but there are apparently 14 situations in which eviction is deemed appropriate. I rather wonder that there are any such "situations." It makes sense to me that-- in keeping with other idiocy in the land of the fruit and nuts-- real estate laws would effectively hobble commerce and the folks who lubricate the economy in favor of dead-beat non-contributors. But what happened here sounds to me NOT like eviction, but like the people were evicted after refusing to pay higher rates. (at least in Texas) there is no rule or law that a landlord MUST renew a lease, and why should a private property owner be FORCED to keep a bad or under-qualified tenant on a property-- how does this fall under the purview of local/state or federal govs? Also, what asshat thought it was a good idea to say landlords couldn't raise their rates concommitant with the rise of common area utility/fuel costs, taxes, etc.,? What would be the point of owning anything if you are guaranteed an equation of diminishing returns? I have no doubt that as in Texas, in California, someone who buys a rental property is obliged to fulfill the terms of lease agreed upon by the previous owner, and for the full life of that lease agreement. However, after the lease is up and given the agreed-upon period for notice of renewal or move-out notice, then the tenant has no legal beef if the landlord chooses not to renew their lease. I think this is fair. Else, we'd all just be living in Pacific Heights world where landlords would be in the permanent bitch seat with exploitative residents.

Apparently, San Francisco enforces a city-wide form of rent-control, keeping rents lower than the market rate for the same property when sold as a condo or townhome. One rather wonders why anyone bothers to provide rental property there at all, considering how restrictive the city code is for landlords.

The landlords in this case apparently tried to intimidate the tenant into leaving, including instructing maintenance people to destroy parts of the building to render it uninhabitable.

I'm not defending these landlords- their scorched-earth methods sound lame and self-defeatist to me- but I wonder how anyone could expect property owners who provide vitally needed accommodation to those who want to live in the city but can't afford an entire building themselves to give it away free or at a loss? This is insanity.
Written by phlegmfatale
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Name: Phlegmfatale
Location: Elsewhere, Texas, USA

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