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The Ellis Act Defined
The Ellis Act is a state law that says landlords have the unconditional right to evict tenants to “go out of business.” For an Ellis eviction, the landlord must remove all of the units in the building from the rental market. The apartments cannot be re-rented, except at the same rent the evicted tenant was paying, for five years following the evictions. There are no such restrictions on converting them to ownership units (e.g., tenancies in common or condos).
Ellis Act evictions generally are used to “change the use” of the building. Most Ellis evictions are used to convert rental units to condominiums using loopholes in the condo law. BEWARE OF ELLIS THREATS Filing an Ellis Act with the Rent Board means that the re-rental restrictions will be recorded on the deed of tivated to issue Ellis “warnings” and “advisories” to the tenants. These are not legal eviction notices but nonetheless are perceived as eviction notices by tenants—don’t move based on a bluff! FIGHT THE ELLIS Defenses may be limited, but tenants who fight the Ellis eviction win surprisingly often. Tenants who don’t win often drag out the eviction for well over a year and get into a position where they can settle on their terms.
SB 464 is a bill before the California State Senate that would limit use of the Ellis Act. The bill would require three years of ownership before Ellis Act evictions, limiting the ability for speculative realtors to buy up rent controlled housing and evict people for a profit–sadly a huge business in the Bay Area.
From the SFTU website.