Reform the Ellis Act Now!

Photo courtesy of Tenants Together.
Photo courtesy of Tenants Together.

Berkeley is one of 14 cities in California that enjoys strong protections for tenants. San Francisco has decent protections, but has seen a huge wave of evictions that use a state law, the Ellis Act, to get around local rules.

Now there is a statewide effort to reform the Ellis Act. The law was intended to allow long-term owners to “go out of the rental business” but instead allows investment companies and other speculators to buy rent controlled buildings, evict all the tenants, and sell the units as condos or tenancies-in-common at huge profits.

Activists from San Diego to Redding are hoping a reformed law might require an owner to hold the building for at least five years before they could “go out of business” – this would eliminate speculators who buy rental properties only to flip them after evictions. However, in 2007 a bill in the California legislature which called for a five-year delay failed miserably. If a broad coalition from many cities – including Berkeley – doesn’t support the current reform, we could end up with a state exemption to the law that will only protect San Francisco.

And you know what they say – “When San Francisco sneezes, Berkeley get a cold!” If SF was able to curb their epidemic of evictions, speculators will quickly turn to Berkeley. This is why the Berkeley Tenants Union wants you to join with us in supporting broad statewide reform of the Ellis Act now!

Our friends at Tenants Together have put together a petition as a first step:

A state law, The Ellis Act, is responsible for the unfair eviction of thousands of seniors and families in California. In the past few years Ellis Act evictions have surged, with thousands of long-term tenants displaced from their homes.

Send the message that we will stand up for our communities against speculation.

San Francisco is taking other steps to end their eviction crisis – Berkeley should also increase Ellis relocation payments, restrict unit mergers, and give evicted residents priority for local affordable housing – join BTU to fight for this today! Right now, the revisions to the Berkeley Demolition Ordinance proposed by Mayor Bates will make it easier to eliminate rent controlled units by merging them to create big houses for the wealthy — the exact opposite of how San Francisco is changing their law!

Hundreds of seniors, families and long-term renters evicted in San Francisco

The Ellis reform bill would allow local governments more say in preventing evictions: