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SF’s ‘cruelest landlord’ sued by her own lawyer

Who defends you in that case?

A brass statue of a blindfolded woman holding a pair of balanced scales. Photo via Shutterstock

The story of Anne Kihagi—the San Francisco landlord hit with both millions of dollars in fines and a reputation as perhaps the city’s worst landlord after a court found her guilty of abusing her tenants—got stranger this week after Kihagi’s lawyer filed suit against her for more than $158,000.

Court documents, uploaded here by Mission Local, show that Karen Uchiyama, whom the state bar lists as practicing law out of an office on Webster Street, sued Kihagi on September 4, while at the same time representing Kihagi in a suit with Umpqua Bank.

The attorney’s suit specifies damages of $158,501.66 starting in December 2015, but provides no further details. In the past, lawyers and other hirees have sued Kihagi over late or lack of payments.

In the Umpqua lawsuit, the bank alleges that Kihagi defaulted on her loans on three San Francisco buildings. Kihagi alleges that the bank intentionally avoided accepting her payments. That litigation is unrelated to her ongoing fight with the SF City Attorney’s office and her own renters.

The Kihagi drama dates to May 2017, when the city successfully sued Kihagi for tenant harassment on such a level that it provoked a record-breaking $2.4 million in fines.

Her liability to the city has since risen to $7 million, and the charges of abuses, like threatening a tenant’s cat and badgering one couple so persistently that they broke up, earned her the moniker of the city’s “cruelest landlord.”

In August, the courts ordered that Kihagi stop managing several buildings she owns because the judge doesn’t trust her to obey court orders.

Previously, the city auctioned off several of Kihagi’s buildings, and told her tenants to pay rent to City Hall instead of her, all part of an elaborate, years-long plan to try to collect on the money she owes.

In years past, Kihagi has been jailed in Southern California and picketed by her own tenants to protest both alleged and confirmed abuses.

Kihagi still owns several buildings in San Francisco, mostly in the Mission and Dolores Heights.

At one point Kihagi owned more than 50 precious rent-controlled units in the city, a portfolio worth roughly $24 million.