The California Apartment Association is calling on its members to help defeat a bill that threatens the Ellis Act and could come to a vote on the Senate floor next week.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco

The bill, 1439 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, could strip San Francisco landlords of their freedom to leave the rental housing business.

SB 1439 is a direct assault on the Ellis Act, a law passed in 1985 that bars local governments from making property owners stay in the rental housing industry.

Ellis especially protects owners of rental properties in rent controlled cities, where landlords can find themselves operating at a loss.

Under Leno’s bill, San Francisco would be authorized to place the Ellis Act out of reach for newer property owners. For example, someone who purchases a rental property in San Francisco would have to wait at least five years before removing his or her rental units from the market — even if the owner is losing money.

Owners wanting to move themselves or their families into their own units also would be denied access to Ellis until they’ve met the five-year ownership requirement.

While Leno’s bill applies specifically to San Francisco, it promises to spread to other rent controlled communities in California. Already, Los Angeles has shown interest in pursuing a similar measure.

Background stories

  • Leno’s Ellis Act bill passes Judiciary Committee
  • Leno’s bill progresses to Judiciary Committee, although barely
  • Anti-Ellis Act bill heading to Housing Committee
  • San Francisco lawmakers’ attempt to gut Ellis Act meets resistance
  • CAA posts website to educate public on Ellis Act
  • CAA discusses Ellis Act, San Francisco on NPR program