Ammiano and Leno seek to reform the Ellis Act and slow SF evictions [UPDATED]

Tom Ammiano

State lawmakers from San Francisco are launching a two-pronged attack on the Ellis Act, which real estate speculators are increasingly using to evict tenants from rent-controlled apartments and cash in on a housing market that's been heated up by demand from high-paid employees of the booming tech sector.

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano today introduced Assembly Bill 2405, which would allow the San Francisco voters or the Board of Supervisors to declare a mortorium on Ellis Act evictions when the city’s state-mandated affordable housing goals aren’t being met.

Sen. Mark Leno is also planning to introduce his own Ellis Act reforms by today’s legislative deadline for introducing new bills. He’s been working on a reform package with Mayor Ed Lee, but Leno is keeping the details under wraps under Monday at 9am when the pair will hold a press conference outside a Chinatown apartment building to announce their proposal.

Both proposals face an uphill battle in Sacramento given that San Francisco is one of only a couple jurisdictions in the state that have rent control, which Ellis Act was designed to undermine by allowing landlords to get out of the rental business and remove apartments for the market. And the real estate industry industry is expected to strongly oppose the reforms.

“It will, of course, be very difficult, but Mr. Ammiano has been talking about this for months and he’s committed to doing something,” his Press Secretary Carlos Alcala told the Guardian.   

UPDATE 2/24] Leno and Mayor Lee -- flanked by other supporters of the legislation, including Sups. David Campos and David Chiu, rival candidates to succeed Ammiano -- this morning announced the introduction of Senate Bill 1439. It would authorize San Francisco to prohibit those who buy rental properties to invoke the Ellis Act and evict tenants for at least five years, and only allow only one Ellis Act eviction for the life of each property. 

“The original spirit of California’s Ellis Act was to allow legitimate landlords a way out of the rental business, but in recent years, speculators have been buying up properties in San Francisco with no intention to become landlords but to instead use a loophole in the Ellis Act to evict long-time residents just to turn a profit," Leno said.

Ammiano’s press release follows, followed by Leno's:


Ammiano Introduces Bill to Stem Evictions from Affordable Housing


SACRAMENTOAssemblymember Tom Ammiano today introduced AB 2405 to empower local jurisdictions to stop the erosion of affordable housing stock.


“San Francisco is seeing a terrible crisis,” Ammiano said. “The people who have made our city the diverse and creative place that it is are finding it harder and harder to stay in San Francisco. The rash of Ellis Act evictions has only made it worse.”

Ellis Act evictions are permitted under certain circumstances when a property owner is taking a rent-controlled unit out of the rental market. However, some owners have been abusing these provisions and improperly evicting tenants from rent-controlled units. The problem is not restricted to San Francisco, although the city is going through a particularly critical loss of affordable housing.

AB 2405 would allow local jurisdictions – by means of a Board of Supervisors or public vote – to enact a moratorium on Ellis Act evictions when the local housing element is not met. Also, the bill would hide no-fault evictions from tenant records or credit checks in unlawful detainer cases, and would place Ellis Act unlawful detainer cases on civil court calendars.

“Experience shows you can’t build your way out of an affordable housing crisis,” Ammiano said. “We have to do what we can to preserve what affordable housing we have. This is one piece of that effort.”

New Legislation Closes Ellis Act Loophole for San Francisco

Senator Mark Leno Joins Mayor Ed Lee, Tenant Advocates, Labor Groups and Business Leaders

to Stop Speculative Evictions in San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO – Senator Mark Leno today joined San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, other elected officials, tenant advocates, labor groups and business leaders to introduce legislation closing a loophole in the Ellis Act that allows speculators to buy rent-controlled buildings in San Francisco and immediately begin the process of evicting long-term renters. Aiming to mitigate the negative impacts of a recent surge in Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco, Senate Bill 1439 authorizes San Francisco to prohibit new property owners from invoking the Ellis Act to evict tenants for five years after the acquisition of a property, ensures that landlords can only activate their Ellis Act rights once, and creates penalties for violations of these new provisions.


“The original spirit of California’s Ellis Act was to allow legitimate landlords a way out of the rental business, but in recent years, speculators have been buying up properties in San Francisco with no intention to become landlords but to instead use a loophole in the Ellis Act to evict long-time residents just to turn a profit,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Many of these renters are seniors, disabled people and low-income families with deep roots in their communities and no other local affordable housing options available to them. Our bill gives San Francisco an opportunity to stop the bleeding and save the unique fabric of our City.”


Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco have tripled in the last year as more than 300 properties were taken off the rental market. This spike in evictions has occurred simultaneously with huge increases in San Francisco property values and housing prices. About 50 percent of the city’s 2013 evictions were initiated by owners who had held a property for less than one year, and the majority of those happened during the first six months of ownership.


“We have some of the best tenant protections in the country, but unchecked real estate speculation threatens too many of our residents,” said Mayor Lee. “These speculators are turning a quick profit at the expense of long time tenants and do nothing to add needed housing in our City. These are not the landlords the Ellis Act was designed to help, and this legislation gives San Francisco additional tools needed to protect valuable housing and prevent further Ellis Act speculator evictions, which has already displaced working families and longtime San Franciscans. This carve out is a good policy for San Francisco, and I thank Senator Leno for being a champion on this issue. Together we have built a large coalition of renters, labor and business leaders to fight this battle in Sacramento to support middle income and working families here in our City.”


“Rents in San Francisco are at an all-time high. My former neighbors and I, working families and seniors, were displaced from the place we called home for several decades,” said Gum Gee Lee. “Those that have yet to receive an Ellis Act notice continue to live in fear, fear that they too will be evicted from their homes. For seniors such as myself who rely on public transportation and access to social and health services within our community, Ellis evictions cut our lifeline, our independence to thrive. For working class families such as my former neighbors from Jackson Street, they continue to struggle to survive in San Francisco. San Francisco is our home.”


Enacted as state law in 1985, the Ellis Act allows owners to evict tenants and quickly turn buildings into Tenancy In Common (TIC) units for resale on the market. In San Francisco, the units that are being cleared are often rent controlled and home to seniors, disabled Californians and working class families. When these affordable rental units are removed from the market, they never return.


Senate Bill 1439 will be heard in Senate policy committees this spring.


No one makes you rent with a gun to your head ... Just say no to landlords and don't rent. After you refuse to rent, the rental market is sure to crash....

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

nothing surpasses the property stealing greed of parasite tenants....Wheres my can of RAID ?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

Nothing screams unfairness louder than the fact tenants ultimately pay the property mortgage, property tax, depreciation and other rental costs, but the landlords get the lucrative billion-dollar tax deductions. Just fixing this one small injustice would begin to have an impact on the predatory landlord class. A 90% capital gain tax on all property sales other than a personal residence and repealing tax-free property exchanges would have decent impacts too.

Eliminating private landlords altogether from the residential property market is a longer-term goal, but one that must happen before society can begin to repair itself from the on-going economic destruction of the middle and lower income groups by the banking, landlord and government cabals.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

A growing number of private landlords are already doing their part to eliminate their participation in the residential rental market. It's called invoking the Ellis Act.

Owner Occupy!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

Fantastic ǥoods frօm ʏou, man. I've understand уour stuff previous tߋ and yoս're just
tߋo wonderful. I really like what you ɦave acquired ɦere,
reɑlly liҝе what yoou aгe stating ɑnd the way in whіch you say it.

You maқе it enjoyable andd yoս still care foг to keep іt sеnsible.

I сan't wait too read fаr morе from yօu. This іs really a wonderful website.

Posted by on Jul. 29, 2014 @ 10:26 pm


I agree with your long term goal to eliminate all capitalistic property owners and turn all ownership over to The State. After the Glorious Revolution we can all have the San Francisco Housing Authority as our landlord and live in a wonderful Socialist Utopia. I dream of the day that I can have the clogged up toilets, leaky faucets and cockroach infested walls of my youth.

Viva La Revolucion!

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 11:57 pm

I'm really looking forward to your explanation.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 8:56 am

You moron, they have done that in Cuba …. result NO NEW HOUSING EVER and the pre existing housing ? Falling apart …. YOU MUST BE A METH ADDICT

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 9:05 am

and more homes for rent. In fact, the current shortage of rental homes is due to the existing rules, which is why so many LL's just quit and convery their rentals to owner-occupation or overnight lets.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 9:17 am

that they are allowing their hatred of people in a particular profession to outweigh their desire to see more rental housing and more affordable rents.

Likewise, a 30% tax on rents would simply cause rents to be raised to cover that cost or for more landlords to quit the business.

Why do these people never think things through?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 9:51 am

They are ignorant and stupid. Like how they though banning all condo conversions was a good idea. It just made Ellis acts more desirable to landlords. Stupid fools.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 11:02 pm

Keep up this socialist property seizing crap and you will have a proposition on the state ballot to put San Francisco rent control thieves in their place, Ban ALL RENT CONTROL, VIA a State ballot Prop !!!!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

I can see the wording now... San Francisco socialists are coming to seize your property ! Stop them by voting yes on prop 49 !

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

gradual erosion of RC units in SF mean that rent control going way is a matter of when rather than if.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

Prop 98, June 2008. Failed by a massive landslide. Non-starter.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

Price controls are valid in certain temporary situations, e.g. war and disasters. When you try and duck housing policy by using only this tactic for decades, it will fail.

Doesn't matter whether RC gets bounced or just fades away. It's toast because it doesn't work. Already only about 50% of SF tenants have rent control Strip out turnover, evictions and LL's refusing to rent, and you're looking at a decade, maybe two, at the most.

You're a dinosaur.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 3:25 pm

We need to push the envelope and put it on the ballot again and again if necessary.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

pushes up against what the state and the constitution will allow. That's why we have the Ellis Act and the Costa-Hawkins Act - because SF and a couple of other cities went too far.

And your solution is to push further? It will just lead to more backlash.

Instead, why not work out compromises with landlords. We might be willing to yield on certain things as long as the anomalies and inconsistencies of rent control are also rolled back.

Making this a war you have to win hasn't done you any good, else we would not be seeing this latest "crisis".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

So can legislative repeal. If it fails, try again and again.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

Legislatures and voters are given enormous power to alter economic rules, including tax rules. Read the footnotes of Carolene Products, although I wouldn't expect you'll be able to ascertain their nuances and ramifications.

Even severe restrictions that property owners think are outright "takings" of their precious property are often upheld by the courts. Taxing away 90% of the capital gain on property sales (other than a personal residence), or eliminating the billions of dollars of landlord income tax subsidies, or slapping a 30% rent tax on landlord rent income whenever there is less than a 10% vacancy rate in the community and using the proceeds to build housing, are easily constitutional.

You must be the same poster who said David Chiu's friend Steven MacDonald was required to represent multi-millionaire landlord evictors, which of course is totally false since private attorneys carefully pick their clients and reject far more than they accept. You're having a very bad month here posting so much garbage misinformation. Time for a break.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 6:21 pm

It'll be interesting to watch. I wonder why San Francisco hasn't already done any of these things though. Seems like they would have by now if it were so easy. I'd honestly like to hear your thoughts.

In my opinion, the Google protests have succeeded in garnering a lot of attention and now might be a good time for communists (not an insult, feel free to insert your preferred moniker here) to make their play. But I also think that many techies feel scapegoated and even outright attacked. These people WILL be voting, as well as contributing to political campaigns. Righteous indignation has a way of opening pocketbooks. I think the activists may have blundered here.

Posted by Snoozers on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 7:18 pm

because there is no popular support for ideas that would effectively kill off all rental housing in SF.

Greg thinks a ballot initiative can overthrow Ellis and Costa-Hawkins but, again, that is dreaming because they are state laws and the SF voters would have very little impact state-wide, while the rest of the state would not be interested.

We need to encourage people to offer rental housing and, right now, we are encourage them to quit the business instead

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 9:02 am

You need to put down that meth pipe….

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

"passing confiscatory laws that were violating basic property rights."

ah, the intellection of a field mouse.

Posted by GuestagainstCapitalists@post#3 on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

So why should readers expect the rest of your rant to be any more accurate.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 5:08 pm

Okay, fess up. Who hired the Ayn Rand squad to sh*t on this idea?

SF rents are out of control, housing prices are so over the top that it's become a joke - and unfunny joke where working middle class can't afford to live in this city anymore.

Who thought John Galt would settle in San Francisco?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

trying ideas that might actually encourage more homes is a better shot.

You cannot keep over-regulating landlords and then act surprised when rental homes get taken off the market.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 9:04 am

Alimentacion deportiva para fisioculturistas; suplementos de proteinas, vitaminas, aminoacidos y termogénicos de la 1era marca de nutrición deportiva en Europa; MyProtein.
En nuestra web puede comparar los precios de sus suplementos en diferentes webs nacionales y escoger siempre la web más barata para comprar proteinas.
Además aproveche alguno de nuestros descuentos a la hora de hacer su pedido de proteinas baratas.

Posted by Mr. Protein on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 9:41 am

Im trying to move out of California, because I want to live with elbow room. Aside from it being disgustingly expensive, I want and declare space to think and dwell. A smaller and dynamic city that is way less crowded. San Francisco is highly over rated.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

Being voted the most dynamic city on the planet is a great honor. And it's helping many of us to prosper.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

Granted, if your best days are behind you personally and you're on SSI or a fixed public pension, as many San Franciscans are, the city may seem like it's leaving you behind and getting "worse". But in terms of innovation, creative energy, entrepreneurial spirit, San Francisco/Silicon Valley of the late-20th, early-21st century will be a tale told in history alongside with the western migration of the 19th century and gold rush.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

Because they are being outbid for their slice of the American Dream by people who can actually produce economically.

It is no longer possible to live in the world's favorite city for no reason other than feeling that you are so pathetic that you cannot fit in anywhere else, and never want to grow up.

Once the losers leave, this place will really rock.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 6:52 pm

That is the honest truth, all these losers and their going on and on about how "special" they are and why they deserve to be subsidized to live in the most expensive city in America. The massive of naked narcism is sickening….

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 8:51 am

I dont consider this my favorite city. I am trying to move out of California to a smaller city. I need the elbow room that SF will never have. I hate living in tight quarters. Why would anyone pay for disgustingly expensive housing, for an apartment that has make-shift repares and coin operated laundry that never works ? I am done.

SF is far over rated and full of itself. Life is better elsewhere. Besides, smaller cities smell better.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

Best of Luck!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

with the Ellis Act.
The Ellis is not a problem anywhere else in CA.

Let these multi unit building be ellis'd, and TIC'd - this way we can have more affordable housing for San Franciscans who contribute to the City, and not the activist parasites.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

business against their wishes - the courts have been clear on this again and again. I doubt this has any chance of passage and even if it did Gov. Brown takes a dim view of this kind of thing. But even if it were passed it would be immediately challenged and SCOTUS has made clear its support of private property rights.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

run a business if they do not want to.

And who want to have such a person as a landlord even if they could?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

action using state power - they both share that anti-democratic impulse. They differ on what that course of action should be but they sure share the love of attempting to force a desired outcome using legislative or judicial pressure.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 6:03 pm

on economic issues. They should both butt out.

Posted by Lillipublicans on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 6:26 pm

Social issues don't involve unequal power relationships in the same way economic issues do. When the government completely "butts out" of economic issues, that doesn't result in more freedom. It just lets the powerful take advantage of the weak.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

Domestic violence

Sexual harassment

Hate speech



Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 7:46 am

If you are poor, you can change that and become rich, and so powerful

If you are black or female or gay or disabled or an immigrant, you can do nothing about that.

So there are more structural imbalances of power in social issues than economic issues

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 9:01 am

To the extent that these issues do involve unequal power relationships, progressives are on the side of equalizing them. But one person committing an individual act against another person is not on the same level as one person fighting a corporation.

As for becoming rich in order to gain power, there are two things wrong there. One is that the US has the lowest rate of upward mobility in the entire developed world. But the important thing is that we should *all* be empowered, not just the privileged.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 9:25 am

Why we have seen an increase in civil rights over the last 50 years.

the voters have not been convinced by the arguments for economic equality, however, which is why the US has become more unequal (or more opportunisatic as I prefer to think of it).

You won the debate on social matters and lost the debate on economic matters. A fair compromise IMO.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 10:43 am

How about the government spending resources educating people to get good jobs, live within your means and save for their future? The majority of these tenants needing subsidies have not done that.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 8:54 pm

Only speculators build housing!. Housing activists build nothing, they just try and steal property from the rightful owners ! Sick, greedy, property, thieving pigs, that is what "housing activists" really are.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

Were Tom Ammiano's eyes evicted via the Ellis Act?

Posted by Chromefields on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 8:05 am

If you want to protect the rental stock (which is private, not public property) get rid of rent control. No rent control, pretty much no Ellis acts. That how it is for the rest of the state….

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 8:34 am

How about building more units, more rental, more home ownership units, just saying move to Oakland won't help. What about the residents of Oakland when they start getting kicked out. Any renter can get kicked out for Ellis, not just in San Francisco.

Answer is to build now.

We have empty land on the waterfront, we have empty land here and there.

Posted by Garrett on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.