16 Nov., 2016 (San Francisco) 1. Have you been dislocated after a threat, notice, or judgment for a San Francisco Rent Ordinance sec 37.9(a)(8) so-called "Owner Move In" or "OMI" eviction? 2. Did your landlord fail to move into the property, or fail to stay for 36 months? 3. Did your landlord re-rent your property at a higher price to another tenant (without offering it to you first), simply to avoid complying with the rent control ordinance?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of the above questions, you may be able to sue your landlord for wrongful eviction or even fraudulent eviction, based upon the California Civil Code, Common Law, San Francisco Rent Ordinance, and the Unfair Business Practices Act.
As in any other lawsuit, to succeed, you will need evidence proving your tenancy (such as the lease and/or all payment records), the property information (included in the lease), receipts for any claimed moving costs and a copy of your new lease showing higher rents, letters from your landlord threatenhing eviction, the eviction notice, evidence of emotional distress you suffered from the eviction (which may include prescriptions, doctor visits, or a journal), a list of witnesses (including former roommates, neighbors, or even new tenants who will corroborate your case) , and proof that the landlord failed to move in, failed to stay for 36 months, and, if applicable, re-rented the property to another tenant at a higher cost.
If you believe you have a case for Wrongful Owner Move In Eviction, what can you do? 1) Gather the evidence listed above, 2) Investigate to uncover any evidence you lack, 3) Contact the rent board, to make a complaint, or 4) Call a lawyer to file a civil lawsuit for damages.
Civil law suits are time-consuming ventures, and should be thoroughly considered before undertaking them. You will be entitled to discovery, and subjected to discovery yourself - which includes being called for deposition under oath, responding to dozens of written questions about your case, and possibly having to testify in court under the penalty of perjury. Under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, if you at least have evidence that the landlord or his relatives did not live in your unit for at least 36 months after you moved out, the burden of proof will shift to him or her to prove his or her good faith in evicting you.
In other articles in this series, I will further address whether an Owner Move In eviction was fraudulent under the Rent Ordinance, and the potential remedies for fraudulent Owner Move In (OMI) evictions.
Michael Rooney is an attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He is a California consumer attorney practicing litigation in wrongful foreclosure, dual tracking, short sales, and eviction defense in San Francisco County. For more information, please visit http://mikerooneylaw.com.