How Long Is My San Francisco Owner Move-In Eviction Going To Take?

Probably a bit longer than you want, but not nearly as long as you may think. In general, San Francisco residential tenants who live in rental units that were constructed prior to June of 1979 enjoy eviction controls. This means that even though a tenant’s lease has expired, a landlord still may only evict a tenant for one of the sixteen reasons provided for in the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. New property owners in San Francisco, especially from outside the City and State, are often surprised to learn that they simply cannot have a tenant leave simply because the lease has expired. Unless the landlord has one (or more) of the sixteen “fault” or “no fault” grounds for eviction, the tenant cannot be forced to leave against their wishes.

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance permits an owner to recover possession of a rental unit from a tenant for the owner’s own residential use, as long as the owner complies with the procedural and factual requirements that are regulated by the Rent Ordinance itself. If so, an owner serves all occupants of the rental unit with a sixty-day notice of termination of tenancy. This notice of termination of tenancy requires all occupants to vacate the property by the end of the sixtieth day after the notice is served. If the tenants remain in possession after the sixty days, and the notice has expired, they are no longer legal occupants. They are considered holdover tenants who are unlawfully in possession.

Once a sixty-day owner move-in termination notice has expired a landlord must bring a lawsuit to recover possession, called an unlawful detainer action. This lawsuit is filed and heard in the Superior Court, which has a dedicated housing court which handles virtually all landlord-tenant matters for the City and County of San Francisco. General civil actions can often take many, many months, often times years, but because possession of real estate is at issue in unlawful detainer actions, there are expedited scheduling rules which apply only to unlawful detainer actions. Many of the discovery, law and motion, and response times are shortened for all parties, often being reduced to as little as five days. In fact, where general civil actions typically have trials scheduled for nine to twelve months in the future, unlawful detainer trials are required to be scheduled for a trial to take place no more than twenty-one days after the request is made.

These rules do not necessarily mean that if a tenant remains in possession after the termination notice expires an owner will quickly recover possession within twenty-one days. It also does not necessarily mean it could take significantly longer than twenty-one days before an owner recovers possession. Any number of things could happen after an owner move-in termination notice is served on the tenants that could affect the date recovery is finally restored. A tenant could simply agree to move pursuant the notice, or sooner, or a tenant could instead challenge the termination notice based on procedural or factual grounds, possibly even exercising their right to a jury trial, if the circumstances supported it. In the vast majority of cases, however, because there are very few challenges a tenant can successfully raise in defense to an owner move-in termination notice, tenants typically either vacate pursuant to the notice’s sixty-day requirement, or an agreement is reached between the owner and tenant for a mutually acceptable vacate date. That agreed upon date can be whatever is acceptable to everyone involved.

The rules and regulations regarding San Francisco owner move-in and relative move-in evictions are complex and always subject to challenge by both property owners and tenants. If you are curious about learning more about performing a San Francisco owner move-in eviction or relative move-in eviction for a property you own or are looking to purchase, you should speak to an experienced San Francisco Real Estate attorney who represents owners and landlords in San Francisco.

San Francisco Owner Move-In Eviction and Relative Move-In Eviction information provided by San Francisco Real Estate attorney Mark Chernev.

Mark B. Chernev, Zacks, Freedman & Patterson, PC, 601 Montgomery Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94111 : 415 – 956 – 8100