San Francisco Ellis Act Restrictions Struck Down
The California Ellis Act allows property owners to evict tenants in order to remove units from the rental market. Although its impact on eviction rates and the rental markets is contested, it’s become "a firebrand signifier of the housing affordability crisis in San Francisco," as Planetizen editor James Brasuell has written.
In 2013, San Francisco attempted to limit use of the Ellis Act through an ordinance that required property owners to wait ten years after evicting tenants before merging their units into one single-family home (a common reason for taking units off the market). That ordinance was recently overturned in a state appeals court.
The court agreed with the San Francisco Apartment Association that by attempting to disincentivize evictions, the ordinance was meant to "discourage or penalize" property owners exercising a legal right.
The judge did note other steps cities can take to regulate housing stock. This November, voters throughout the Bay Area will decide on a number of alternative eviction and rent control measures.