Humphreys Joiner Law Group assists tenants in protecting their rights and ensuring they receive compensation for fraudulent owner move in evictions.
An owner move in eviction, also called an OMI eviction, is when a landlord seeks possession of a rental unit from a tenant because he or she intends to move into the unit and reside there as his or her principal place of residence for 36 continuous months. This is one of the many just causes for eviction under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. While this is a legal way for a landlord to evict a tenant, not every one of these evictions is legal. The Rent Ordinance sets forth important restrictions and requirements that landlords must follow. When a landlord fails to follow these requirements, or where a landlord does not truly intend to reside in the unit, the tenant can sue for wrongful eviction and may recover money damages from the landlord.
In order to even attempt an owner move in eviction, the landlord must be a record owner of at least 25% of the property. Additionally, in the case of a relative move in, where the landlord is seeking possession of a rental unit so the landlord’s direct relative can move in, the landlord must either currently reside in the same building as the tenant or must concurrently be seeking possession of another rental unit in the same building to move into.
To start the process, the landlord must give the tenant proper notice of his or her intent to move in. The notice must be in writing and must contain certain specific information, including the percentage ownership, the identity of the owner (or relative) who intends to move in, and the addresses of any other property the landlord owns, among other things.
The landlord must also give relocation payments to the tenant. The amount of the payments is determined by the S.F. Rent Board and is published on the Rent Board’s website. The landlord must give the tenant one-half of the total relocation amount at the time the notice is served and one-half after the tenant vacates.
After receiving the OMI eviction notice, a tenant will need to decide whether to move out or stay and fight the eviction. There are many technical requirements that a landlord must follow and these can be used as a way to defend against the eviction. Sometimes a tenant can successfully defend against an owner move in eviction based on technical deficiencies in the owner’s notice. However, if the notice is written properly and the landlord has the required 25% ownership, these cases can be very difficult for a tenant to successfully defend.
Alternatively, if the tenant moves from the unit and the landlord does not move into the unit or moves in but moves out before the 36 month period, the tenant can sue their landlord for wrongful eviction. In that situation, the tenant could receive significant monetary compensation for loss of housing, emotional distress, and other harm.