Legislation considered to give tenants first choice to buy for-sale housing 

New legislation that could reduce the number of evictions in San Francisco by giving existing tenants the first choice to buy for-sale buildings is being floated by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.

“We need to do more to put housing in the hands of San Francisco tenants who are in danger of being evicted by speculative investors,” Chiu said. The Right of First Refusal proposal, which is still in the early stages and is modeled after similar legislation in Washington, D.C., and other cities, would help stabilize existing neighborhoods as well as help create more long-term housing for working San Franciscans, according to Chiu’s office.

“The Right of First Refusal proposal responds to recent concerns over increasing Ellis Act evictions, which frequently occur in small buildings that house our City’s most diverse populations, including seniors and disabled residents,” a statement on the proposal said. “Under the proposal, a property owner that wants to go out of the rental business would have the option to sell to its tenants at market-rate instead of a short-term investor whose business plan is to evict the tenants and flip the building.”

The proposal would protect an owner’s ability to sell at market rate while preventing tenant displacement and achieving neighborhood stability, the statement said.

Chiu said he will begin discussing how specifically to write the legislation with the housing-rights community, as well as start looking at the neighborhoods where the legislation could have the most impact.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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