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Abusive San Francisco landlord found in contempt, may face jail time

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Anne Kihagi allegedly embarked on a campaign of intimidation and harassment of tenants

A photo of the SF superior court building.
Superior Court Of California building, San Francisco.
Photo by Gagliardi Images

In February, the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office ordered the tenants of abusive landlord Anne Kihagi to make out their rent checks to the city instead of the convicted property owner. The court ruling would have seized her income from the more than 50 rent-controlled apartments she owns in the city, which would help pay off the millions of dollars in fines she owes after a catastrophic 2017 court loss.

But on Thursday, Judge Lynn Malley O’Taylor ruled that Kihagi interfered with those payments and found her in contempt of court. The judge gave her until next week to turn over $125,000 or resign herself to ten days in jail.

When Mission Local asked Kihagi whether or not she intends to pay, the defendant’s attorney, Isaac Zfaty, prevented her from answering. Speaking to Curbed SF, Zfaty said, “The question is, do we pay or do we appeal?”

He called the $125K payment a “get out of jail card,” adding, “Paying the fine discharges the contempt, and we do not want a finding of contempt entered.”

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

Kihagi previously put up a $4.1 million bond to avoid paying her fines while the 2017 case is on appeal. The court later increased the amount of the bond and gave Kihagi until March to come up with the larger figure. This created disagreement about whether she owes the city her rental income in the meantime—hence the non-payment.

The initial 2017 ruling against Kihagi leveled $2.4 million worth of penalties on her, but court costs have since compounded that amount to $5.5 million.

Kihagi’s renters alleged she embarked on a years-long campaign of intimidation and harassment that included shutting off utilities and entering their homes without permission.