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San Francisco | Fault Lines | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Former Tenant Pickets as Realtors Tries to Sell House
by Susan ( info [at] faultlines.org )
Sunday Jun 24th, 2007 1:30 AM
Currently, I am picketing the building I was Ellised* from in 2001 by speculators Michael Gallin and Elba Borgen. The apartments were sold as TICs* in 2003 and 2004 after the building sat empty for almost two years. Three of the four apartments are for sale again as TICs. The purpose of the picket is to make sure prospective buyers know the building’s history. While an Ellis Act eviction must be recorded on the deed, many realtors try to hide this information or omit it in their initial advertising.
At the first open house I attended I discovered this was indeed the case. People I spoke to told me the realtor was being vague. While I was standing in front of the building, the realtor told me herself “well, these people [the current owners] didn’t do an Ellis.” I pointed out that it made no difference who did it. The effect was the sametenants were evicted.

By the second week, she had totally changed her tune. She was revealing it before being asked, although still trying to minimize the fact by saying that her clients didn’t do it. A few people have asked me why I bothered to picket the house. I have observed people change. On one Sunday, at least ten different people thanked me, said they wouldn’t buy it, wouldn’t go in, etc. One person I spoke to was another real estate broker, and even he thanked me because he said his client didn’t want to buy where tenants had been evicted. I have seen the change in media coverage of Ellis evictions. I have taken part in other pickets and have seen the looks on peoples faces when you tell them who used to live in the building they are looking at. Many of them express disgust and walk away.

According to the Rent Board, there has been a 20 percent drop in Ellis evictions since Proposition B-the proposition which mandated disclosure of senior and disabled evictions-passed in June 2006. Disclosure works.

What is unusual about 1879 Oak is the timing of this picket. The former tenants are still around, six years later. I would encourage people to continue to attend pickets, ask questions, and generally raise doubt about the solidness of TICs as investments. In real estate terms, buildings that take longer to sell result in lower prices. Taking the profit out of evictions is the only thing greedy real estate speculators understand.

*Ellised: Evicted by a landowner evoking the “Ellis Act."

*TIC: “Tenancy In Common” housing unit. Can be used to technically apply an Ellis Act eviction in order to evict tenants of a rent controlled unit.