In December, District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen introduced legislation that will strengthen the Buyout Ordinance spearheaded by David Campos in 2014. Yesterday, the board unanimously passed the amendments. The new legislation, expected to go into effect April 6th, seeks to clarify the process, close loopholes, and ensure that buyouts are accurately reported.
Tenant advocates have successfully closed loopholes in much of the no-cause eviction process, reducing the number of Owner Move-in and Ellis Act evictions. Now, some landlords have turned to cash buyouts to replace long-term rent control tenants with higher paying new renters, often subjecting these long-term tenants to extreme high-pressure tactics and misinformation. Advocates believe that the number of reported buyouts is well below the actual number of tenants receiving payment to move, in part because the 2014 Buyout Ordinance (Admin Code Section 37.9E) prohibits condo conversion of any building if a senior or disabled tenant entered into a Buyout Agreement, and for a ten-year period after two or more tenants entered into Buyout Agreements. Below is a summary of the amendments written by Supervisor Ronen’s office.
• PROBLEM: Landlords are using unlawful detainers to recharacterize Buyout Agreements as eviction settlements and bypass filing and subsequent constraints.
o AMENDMENT to 37.9E(c)(1) clarifies that an eviction settlement agreement filed within 120 days of the start of Buyout Negotiations is a Buyout Agreement.
• PROBLEM: Required disclosures to tenants of their rights are being delivered after start of negotiations or not at all
o AMENDMENT to 37.9E(d) requires that tenants are informed that preferences for affordable housing are available for renters who are displaced by eviction or fire, but not if voluntarily accepted a buyout; and requires that the landlord file evidence of disclosure within 10 days of having provided it.
• PROBLEM: Tenants are subjected to high-pressure, take-it-or-leave-it deadlines, without adequate time to reach out to legal or advocate assistance.
o AMENDMENT to 37.9E(f)(1) requires that there is a minimum of 30 days between start of buyout negotiations and execution of an agreement.
• PROBLEM: Executed Buyout Agreements are not being filed by landlords, bypassing the disincentive of condo conversion limitations
o AMENDMENT to 37.9(f)(2) and (h) voids any waiver of rights that are included in an agreement if a landlord does not file with the Rent Board.