Was my Owner Move In (OMI) Eviction Fraudlent?

 By: Michael Rooney
In today's blazing hot San Francisco tenants market, owner move in (OMI) evictions are all too common. Recent investigative reports in San Francisco indicate many OMI evictions since 2012 were pretenses to increase rent to market rate prices. If you are a San Francisco resident with affordable, rent-controlled lease payments, an eviction notice can be nightmarish. You will have to move, likely from a long-term residence, you will likely pay much higher rent, and, in the case of an owner move in eviction there is practically no defense to the procedure.

According to Bigad Shaban's recent NBC Bay Area investigative report, "[m]ore than 8,000 people in San Francisco have been evicted from their homes over the past four years, but hundreds of those residents may have been wrongfully evicted." (NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit. Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports. First published Nov.10, 2016) (Published Friday, Nov. 11, 2016) In NBC's investigation, reporters contacted hundreds of displaced tenants and knocked on hundreds of more doors to speak to new tenants, who in 25% of instances, revealed that the Landlord had not complied with the Rent Ordinance requirement of "good faith" in using the indefensible OMI eviction against their former tenants, and only had evicted them to raise - even triple - the rent on the unit.

Pursuant to San Francisco Rent Ordinance sec. 37.9(a)(8), requirements for an Owner Move-In eviction include: "seek[ing] to recover possession in good faith, without ulterior reasons and with honest intent." Those words, "good faith," and "honest intent," are hard to define, but ultimately boil down to cold hard numbers: for 36 months, either the landlord must use your space as his principle residence, or his family must use your space in a building where the landlord also presently dwells or is seeking to gain possession of another unit as his primary residence.

This right to evict is also limited by the presence of comparable units for the Landlord or his family to dwell in, and "[i]t shall be evidence of a lack of good faith if a landlord times the service of the notice, or the filing of an action to recover possession, so as to avoid moving into a comparable unit, or to avoid offering a tenant a replacement unit."

Finally, if the landlord or his family - do not meet this 36-month requirement, evicted tenants are entitled to the rebuttable presumption that the landlord had not acted in good faith. Thus, if you have been evicted on the basis that your Landlord planned to move into the property or have his family move in, only to have the landlord re-rent the property for higher rents, your San Francisco Owner Move In (OMI) eviction may have been fraudulent. Likewise, if you voluntarily moved out on the threat or notice of an OMI eviction, only to have your landlord re-rent the property for higher rents (without offering it back to you first), your San Francisco Owner Move In (OMI) eviction may have been fraudulent.

In other articles in this series, I will address whether you can sue your landlord for wrongful eviction, and the potential remedies for fraudulent Owner Move In (OMI) evictions.

Copyright (c) 2016 Michael Rooney
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