San Francisco Apartment Association v. City and County of San Francisco

Facts: The Ellis Act (the Act) permits residential landlords in California to evict non-faulting tenants when the landlord intends to remove their rental units from the rental market. A county, in response to a regional housing shortage, enacts a local ordinance requiring residential landlords who evict tenants under the Act to wait 10 years after withdrawing their units from the rental market before the landlord may apply for approval from the county to merge multiple units. Local landlords intending to remove their units from the rental market and merge them apply for approval soon after evicting their tenants, and are denied due to the local ordinance.

Claim: An apartment association seeks to invalidate the county’s ordinance, claiming it violates the Act since the ordinance penalizes landlords who exercise their rights under the Act and wrongfully seeks to compel them to continue renting their units.

Counter claim: The county claims the ordinance is valid since the California Constitution grants local government police power to enact land use regulations consistent with state law, which is not preempted by the Act.

Holding: A California court of appeals holds the county’s ordinance is invalid since it penalizes residential landlords for exercising their rights to withdraw rental units under the Act and adversely affects the class of people the Act is meant to protect — an exercise of police power that exceeds the scope of local governance permitted by the Act. [San Francisco Apartment Association v. City and County of San Francisco (September 19, 2016)_CA4th_]


Related article:

California Ellis Act evictions cause controversy