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Tenants in mixed-use buildings face unique eviction risk

January 10, 2015

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Visitors to Michael and Galina Fridman’s home walk by a TV repair shop when entering their Van Ness Avenue building, and pass by offices for dentists and optometrists in the hallway before reaching the couple’s small-but-comfortable fourth-floor apartment.

Those offices are the reason why the building’s new owner is moving to evict the couple and the rest of their residential neighbors — and the commercial space is also why this case could bode ill for other tenants in mixed-use housing in San Francisco, observers say…

It’s not clear how many tenants the landlord is trying to evict. Court records for unlawful detainers are sealed for two months after filing, but at least nine others in seven units in the building have also been served with evictions, according to attorney Steve Collier of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, who is representing the tenants.

It’s also not clear how many units are already empty, though Michael Fridman guesses the building is at least “half-empty.”…

Original planning maps describe the building as apartments. A building permit from 1946 and a certificate of occupancy from 1947 chronicle a conversion to “offices and stores,” a fact that the landlord’s attorney is seizing upon as grounds for eviction, according to an October letter.

However, it appears residential apartments always remained. Building permits issued at the property in the 1980s reference apartments and offices, according to records.

The City may intervene and make a determination — the Department of Building Inspection is “investigating” the nature of the building, a spokesman said — but in the meantime, the episode may spell trouble for residents of other mixed-use buildings without solid documentation…

Since the ouster is not even an Ellis Act eviction — which would prohibit the unit being rented again for five years — if the tenants lose, they receive no financial compensation.

“This [eviction] is not unusual … this is a sickness in The City,” Michael Fridman said. “But how many other people live in buildings like ours?”

Galina Fridman offers an answer, and a warning: “All of Van Ness Avenue.”… (more)

There is a serious connection between foreclosures and evictions that needs to be addressed. When a building is foreclosed the bank often  attempts to evict the tenants regardless of whether or not they pay the rent.

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