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City Hall seizes abusive landlord’s rent payments

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Judge cited landlord’s “persistent pattern of bad faith harassment, retaliation, and fraud”

650 Church Street, one of Anne Kihagi’s SF properties now paying rent to the city.
Google

In May of 2017 a judge ruled against San Francisco landlord Anne Kihagi in a suit by the city alleging abuse of tenants and imposing $5.5 million in fees.

The question of how the city will collect from the notably intransigent Kihagi (also known as Anna Kihagi and Anne Swain) is now answered: According to a letter sent to the tenants of Kihagi’s seven buildings from the City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office, they will now make their monthly rent checks payable to City Hall.

Mission Local’s Joe Eskenazi obtained a copy of the notice from some Kihagi renters:

On December 26, 2017, the city obtained an order from the Superior Court assigning the city the right to receive monthly rent payments owed by each tenant of properties owned by [various Kahagi enterprises.] This means that you, as a tenants, are obligated to pay your rent to the city and not to your landlord, who is a defendant in the lawsuit.

[...] The court has issued a formal restraining order against the defendants prohibiting them from interfering with this order assigning your rent payments to the city. If [...] their attorneys or anyone else attempts to interfere with our compliance to the court order by giving you conflicting instructions, retaliating against you, threatening retaliation, or anything else, please contact the City Attorney investigator.

Ouch.

The city has good cause to hedge against the possibility of retaliation, as Herrera’s 2015 suit highlighted allegations of harassment, intimidation, and illegal evictions, including behavior like leveling threats against a renter’s cat and putting tenants under video surveillance if they cooperated with city inspections.

3947 18th Street, which Kihagi bought in 2013 for $2.79 million.
Apartments.com

In the 2017 ruling, Judge Angela Bradstreet cited Kihagi’s “persistent pattern of bad faith harassment, retaliation, and fraud” when handing down the multimillion dollar punishment. Judge Bradstreet noted that Kihagi and the other defendants demonstrated “complete lack of understanding of the unlawfulness of their conduct.”

The record breaking fine even made news in Kihagi’s native Kenya. Herrera says her four LLC companies have since declared bankruptcy, briefly delaying enforcement of the penalties.

Kihagi collects in excess of $100,000/month from her portfolio of more than 50 rent-controlled SF apartments, which altogether cost her some $24 million to purchase since she began procuring buildings here in 2013.

She also owns multiple Southern California properties. Last year she served a short jail term over complaints stemming from her LA holdings.

Previously, Kihagi kept up a blog where she complained about unjust persecution of landlords by cities and tenants, but it appears to now be offline.