Landlord or Owner Move In Evictions

Relocation Benefits 3/1/011-2/29/12: Relocation benefits are increased annually and for notices filed 3/1/11 to 2/29/12 the amounts are $5,101 per tenant up to maximum of $15,304, plus an additional $3,401 for senior or disabled tenants or households with children (under 18; also note that children count as tenants). Click here for link to current and past relocation amounts.

One of the most common evictions in San Francisco is for owner or relative move-in (Just Cause 37.9(a)(8)). Subject to certain restrictions, outlined below, a landlord can evict a tenant if the landlord wants to move into the unit to live, or (only if the landlord is living in the building) wants a close relative to move in and live there. These evictions are highly abused and landlords who want to evict a tenant in order to raise the rent on a new tenant typically use this OMI just-cause. 1998 changes in the law have limited such eviction considerably but abuse continues.

Please note that many landlords seek to circumvent these restrictions by giving tenants "advisory" or "warning" notices—letters saying, for example, "I'm writing to let you know that my sister will be moving into your apartment next Sp ring..." These notices are not legal eviction notices—landlords are hoping the tenant will move out pursuant to such a "warning" and will then try to argue that the restrictions are not applicable since the tenants was not evicted but moved out "voluntarily." Tenants should not move out pursuant to such advisories or warnings that an OMI eviction is coming some time in the future. See also Eviction Threats for information on dealing with OMI threats or warnings.

An OMI eviction notice must be a 60 day notice except (a) if the tenant has lived there less than a year or (b) the unit is a single-family home or a rented condominium and the notice is given within 120 days after escrow has been established on the property (note that the seller can not give an OMI notice, only the buyer and only after the sale is completed, so in a rent controlled jurisdiction this 2nd exception is generally irrelevant).

Tenants who receive an OMI eviction notice should bring it into the Tenants Union counseling clinic for review. Generally, OMI evictions can be fought on the grounds that the landlord is not moving into the apartment in "good faith," i.e., that the landlord has ulterior motives.

Specifically, OMI evictions can be fought on the grounds listed below.

Just One OMI Eviction Allowed Per Building (Excepting Family Members)—OMI evictions are now limited to one per building, Thus if 4 people buy a building, only one can do an OMI eviction. Any future evictions (e.g. if the landlord evicts and then moves out five years later) must occur in that same unit. Effectively, this means that once an OMI eviction occurs that unit becomes the "owner's unit." This prohibition on future evictions in other units can be bypassed because of the future landlord's "disability or similar hardship." Please note that this provision does allow multiple evictions in the same building for relatives of the landlord if the landlord already lives there or is "simultaneously" moving in.

Long-term Senior, Disabled and Terminally Ill Tenants Protected—Senior (60+) and Disabled (SSI eligible) tenants with 10 or more years tenancy can not be evicted for OMI. Terminally Ill (SSI eligibility + terminal illness diagnosis) tenants with 5 or more years tenancy can not be evicted. Please note that these prohibitions do not cover tenants in single family homes (or rented condominiums).

Evictions For Relatives Restricted To Buildings Where Landlord Is Living—Evictions for relatives are now restricted to just the building where the landlord lives. If, for example, you are being evicted for the landlord's daughter and the landlord lives in Palo Alto, this eviction will be stopped.

Landlord Must Move In Within 3 Months & Live There 3 Years—The landlord (or relative) must move in within 3 months of when the tenant vacates and the landlord (or relative) must have the intention of living there for 3 years.

Landlord Must Be A Person—The landlord or relative moving in must be a "natural person" and can not be a corporation, partnership, LLC or other business entities. In some cases, a family trust may qualify as a person.

Tenants Get Relocation Benefits (With Eviction Notice)—Landlords must pay a minimum of $4,941 in relocation benefits per tenant (including subtenants) plus an additional $3,295 for any tenant who is senior or disabled or living with children. This relocation is above and beyond any deposits and does not prevent the tenant from negotiating a higher relocation benefit. By law, the landlord must pay half of the relocation benefit at the time of the eviction notice and half when the tenant actually vacates. The initial payment is click here for link to Rent Board relocation amounts.

Landlord Must Offer Tenant Other Units—OMI evictions are prohibited if the landlord has a vacant "comparable" unit in any building owned by the landlord in San Francisco and if it becomes available at any time up to the point of the tenant losing in court (or vacating voluntarily). Any other non-comparable units owned by the landlord must be offered to the tenant being evicted (note as of 2/03, this can be at any rent the landlord wants since the provision requiring the rent to be "similar" was struck down by the Bullard decision of the California Court of Appeals).

Re-Rental of Units Restricted—There is now a form of vacancy control on units after OMI evictions. For 3 years after the eviction, the landlord can not re-rent the unit at a rent greater than what the evicted tenant was paying. And for 3 years after the eviction, the evicted tenant has the first right of refusal to re-rent the unit at the same rent.

Landlord Disclosure—The legislation requires landlords to give tenants basic information about the landlord's property holdings and where the landlord (or relative) currently lives. Within ten days of the notice, the landlord must disclose in writing to the tenant, and file with the Rent Board:
-All building owner names/percentages and dates recorded
-Landlord/relative who is going to live there & description of their current residence
-All property owned by the landlord or the relative
-The rent for the unit and a statement of right to re-rent

OMI Re-Rentals Apartments where tenants have been evicted are subject to vacancy rent control restrictions (i.e., the apartment can only be re-rented at the same rent the evicted tenant was paying) for three years following the eviction. Tenants who have moved into one of these units (OMI eviction addresses -- note this is a large file) can get their rent reduced by the Rent Board.

Download SFTU flyer on OMI Re-Rental Rights








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