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Q&A Regarding San Francisco's OMI Laws

Q: In 2015, we did an Owner Move-In Eviction so our elderly mother could move into the unit. After one year, she passed away. I have since been living in the unit. When the OMI was completed, the laws were that we could re-rent the unit after three years. Does this still apply or are we bound by the new five-year law?

A: This is an excellent question about an amendment to the rent ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors in July 2017, with some of the new law taking effect August 27, 2017, and the rest taking effect January 1, 2018. The short answer is that the five year amendment applies to your situation but only regarding the rent you can charge. The three year period governing to whom you can offer the unit to rent still applies, but the five year period restricts the amount of rent you can charge.

There are two aspects to the five year period after the notice to quit is served: first, to whom you can rent the unit and, second, the rent you can charge. Since your notice was served before January 2018, the law states that if you offer the unit within three years you must first offer the unit to the displaced tenant. This part of the law has not changed.

What has changed is that a section of the law now states the unit must be rented at the prior rate (plus any lawful increases) if offered for rent during the five year period following service of the notice to quit. If your notice was served in January 2015, you must first offer the unit to the displaced tenant if you offer it for rent before February 2018 at the prior adjusted rate. If you offer it for rent after January 2018, you can offer it to anyone but are stuck with the prior adjusted rate until February 2020 (unless the law is changed again before then).

If a reader is contemplating serving an OMI termination notice in the next few months, it is important to note that the new law requires owners who serve notices on or after January 1, 2018, to first offer the unit for rent to the displaced tenant if offered for rent within five years.

There are many other changes to the OMI sections of the rent ordinance, so it is highly advisable that anyone considering such an eviction consult the San Francisco Apartment Assocation, the Rent Board, and your attorney before proceeding.

Copyright © 2018 by Fried & Williams LLP. All Rights Reserved. The information in this article is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice. For any specific matter, please consult with an attorney.

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