The Ellis Act

The Ellis Act is a state law (Government Code Section 7060 et. seq.) designed to allow landlords to get “out of the rental business.” The Ellis Act provides landlords with a means to remove a property from the rental market altogether and terminate the tenancies of all current tenants. Ellis evictions can be costly and time consuming for landlords and are often used as a threat in buyout negotiations. However, as rents and property values go up, so to do Ellis Evictions. Statistics show that the highest frequency of Ellis evictions occur within the first few years after a new owner has purchased the property (see Anti-eviction mapping project for more information)

In order for Ellis evictions to be approved, landlords must remove all units within a building from the rental market for five years. It cannot be applied to just a single unit.

In San Francisco the Ellis Act is listed as one of the enumerated “just causes” for eviction. Rent Ordinance Sec. 37.9(a)(13)

Basics – San Francisco:

  • 120 day written notice for an Ellis Act eviction (San Francisco)
  • Triggers entitlement to relocation payments under 37.9C of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance
  • Half of the relocation payments are to be paid upfront.
  • Disabled and senior tenants entitled to 1 year before they are obligated to vacate (but have to notify landlord)
  • The Ellis notice must be filed with the Rent Board and is recorded on the deed for the property
  • 120 days (or 1 yr if senior / disabled) the building is considered legally removed from the rental market.
  • Once the property has been withdrawn from the rental market landlord can initiate the eviction process.
  • Within 30 days of vacating tenants must notify the landlord of their new address and desire to re-rent their unit if the property is rented again.
  • Landlord is obligated to allow outgoing tenant to re-rent their unit at the same rent if the unit is offered for rent again in the five years following eviction.
  • If landlord rents out the unit/s to anyone within five years, they are restricted from renting it out at anything above what the last tenant was paying in rent (plus allowable increases)
    Re-rental restrictions are binding on current and future owners.

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