Owner or Relative Move-In Evictions

For rent-controlled units, one of the most common evictions in San Francisco is for owner or relative move-in (San Francisco Administrative Code Section 37.9(a)(8)). Subject to certain restrictions, outlined below, a landlord can evict a tenant if the landlord is going to move into the unit to live, or (only if the landlord is also going to be living in the building) for 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 owner move-in evictions (OMIs/landlord move-in evictions/LMIs) that are only allowed if done properly.

Many landlords seek to circumvent the restrictions by giving tenants “advisory” or “warning” notices—letters saying, for example, “I’m writing to let you know that my daughter will be moving into your apartment next Spring…” 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. See Buyouts for more information on dealing with offers of money to vacate.

An OMI eviction notice must be a 60 day notice except if the tenant has lived there less than a year, the notice is a 30 day notice. Tenants who receive an OMI eviction notice should bring it into the Tenants Union counseling clinic for review.

OMI evictions can be fought on the grounds that the landlord is not moving into the rental unit in “good faith,” i.e., that the landlord has ulterior motives, but the bad faith may be difficult to prove. OMI evictions can be also be fought on the grounds listed below.


Senior and Disabled Tenants Who Are Long-Term Tenants Are Usually Protected

Senior (60+) or disabled (eligible for Supplemental Security Income or similar disability) tenants with 10 or more years tenancy, or terminally ill (Supplemental Security Income eligibility and terminal illness diagnosis) tenants with 5 or more years tenancy cannot be evicted for OMI unless every unit in the building besides the unit occupied by the landlord is occupied by such tenants and the landlord is evicting for a relative who is age 60 or older, or the landlord only owns one unit in the building. The tenant must assert their right to this protection from eviction within 30 days of a written request by the landlord with supporting evidence.


Children Have Some Protection

An OMI during the school year, for a tenancy of at least 12 months with children under 18, is allowed only if the owner is moving in with a child under 18 or the rental unit is a single family home.


School Workers

Teacher protections from owner move-in evictions during the school year reinstated by appeals court but not in effect pending petition to the California Supreme Court.


One OMI Eviction Allowed Per Building (Excepting Family Members)

OMI evictions are limited to one per building, Thus if four people buy a building, only one can do an OMI eviction. Any future evictions (e.g. if the landlord evicts to move in and then moves out five years later and a new landlord wants to move in) 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.” This provision does allow multiple evictions in the same building for close relatives of the landlord if the landlord already lives there or is simultaneously moving in.


Landlord Must Be a Person

The landlord or relative moving in must be a “natural person” and cannot be a corporation, partnership, LLC or other business entities. A family trust may qualify as a natural person.


Relatives of Landlord Restricted to Buildings Where Landlord Is Living

Evictions for relatives are restricted to just the building where the landlord lives or the landlord is simultaneously evicting for unit for himself or herself. If, for example, you are being evicted for the landlord’s daughter and the landlord lives in Palo Alto, this eviction is illegal.


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 10 days of the eviction notice, the landlord must disclose in writing to the tenant, and file with the San Francisco Rent Board:

• All building owner names/percentages and dates the ownership was recorded.

• Name of landlord/relative who is going to move in and description of the current residence.

• All property owned by the landlord or the relative.

• The current rent for the unit and a statement of the evicted tenant’s right to re-rent if the unit is re-rented within 3 years of the eviction which is extended to 5 years for eviction notices on or after January 1, 2018.

• For recovery of possession of unit on or after January 1, 2018, file a statement of occupancy with two supporting documents with the Rent Board under penalty of perjury within 90 days of the date of service of the eviction notice and an updated statement every 90 days afterwards if the landlord is still seeking recovery of possession of the unit.


Relocation Payments

See document 577 for the relocation amounts. Note that tenants include children. Landlords must pay relocation amounts to tenant (including authorized subtenants). This payment is above and beyond any deposits and does not prevent the tenant from negotiating a higher relocation payment. The landlord must pay half of the relocation payment at the time of the eviction notice and the other half when the tenant vacates.


Landlord Must Move In Within 3 Months and 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.


Re-Rental of Units Restricted

Effective November 9, 2015, for 5 years after the eviction, the landlord cannot re-rent the unit at a rent greater than what the evicted tenant was paying unless there were allowable rent increases such as annual rent increases. After entering the address, click on the link for “Recorded Documents for this property” on the San Francisco Assessor and Recorder’s Office website for restrictions on a property. For 3 years after the eviction which is extended to 5 years for eviction notices on or after January 1, 2018, the evicted tenant has the first right of refusal to re-rent the unit.


Procedural Defenses

Effective August 27, 2017, the tenant or Rent Board may sue for at least three times the actual damages, emotional distress, attorney fees and costs, and injunctive relief for wrongful eviction within five years of the first filing of the statement of occupancy or three months of recovering possession, whichever is earlier. An organization such as the San Francisco Tenants Union may also sue within three years after the tenant knew or should have known of the violation. The subsequent tenant may also sue for at least three times the excessive rent collected in the three years before the filing of the lawsuit and the period between the filing and the court date, as well as injunctive relief and attorney fees.
Updated 2/18/18.

The SF Tenants Union is supported by your memberships and donations. If you find information on this web site useful, or if you want to support our work, please join or donate. Members get even more information via our Tenants Rights Handbook plus access to phone counseling
Join or Donate By Credit or Debit Card