The Ellis Act is a state law which says that landlords have the right to evict tenants in order to "go out of business." All units in the building must be cleared of all tenants, leading to mass displacement. Most often the Ellis Act is used to convert to condos or group-owned tenancy-in-common flats. Once a building becomes a condo it is exempt from rent control, regardless of the age of the building, and even if a unit owner subsequently rents to a long-term tenant.
There is no limit to the number of times a building owner can “go out of business.” Rent Board data shows some owners buying and Ellising multiple buildings over time. If these buyers do not want to be landlords, why are they buying buildings full of rental units? These Ellised buildings - now “out of business”- have also appeared as vacation rentals on sites like Airbnb. As we found in a study with Tenants Together, the majority of Ellis Act evictions transpire within the firs year of building purchases, showing that they are a tool of real estate speculators eager to flip buildings and profit.
With landlords looking for ways to avoid renting to long-term tenants, the housing crisis in San Francisco will only be exacerbated, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you have been evicted, please share your story here.