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Eviction notices in San Francisco down for the first time since 2010

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Rent board reports 20 percent plunge in number of ousted tenants in 2016

A mural of bird houses on the side of a Mission building.
The Mission leads the city for evictions since 2010. Note that the eviction-themed mural pictured here no longer exists.

The San Francisco Rent Board’s annual eviction report showed a 20.8 percent decline in notices citywide between March 2016 and February 2017, the first drop in that grim yearly tally since 2010.

Over the 11-month period landlords tried to oust 1,881 renters citywide, according to the board’s accounting. The most commonly cited reasons were as follows:

  • 442 for lease breaches.
  • 397 owner move-ins.
  • 371 for nuisance violations.
  • 232 for non-payment or “habitual late payment” on rent.
  • 127 Ellis Act removals.

Last year the board reported 2,376. The year before that, 2,120. The year before that, 1,977, in a seemingly ever-increasing tally that stretches back the better part of a decade.

The San Francisco Examiner observes that “the total number of evictions each year is a gauge of how hot the real estate market is,” pointing out that the city’s 20-year high of 2,878 evictions came in the 1998-99 Internet boom.

SoMa comes in third place for post-tech boom evictions.
Approximate Aberration

Parsing the reported causes of evictions can be tricky. Breach of lease is presumably the fault of the tenant, for example, but a Stanford analysis of evictions since 2011 found that as real estate prices heated up over five years, breach of lease evictions in a handful of key neighborhoods spiked.

In fact, in the Tenderloin alone such evictions octupled in that five year span. “Landlords are serving eviction notices for minor reasons such as putting up decorations on the door,” a Stanford journalism student wrote at the time.

And now here we have a big drop in evictions for the first time in years, just as local real estate finally stumbles a bit.

But the rent board data doesn’t offer much insight about the maneuverings of landlords and tenants in a hot market, at least not at face value. The report does note that tenants challenged 410 of those evictions, down from last year’s 506.