San Francisco lawmakers look to ensconce protections for both residential and commercial tenants

Although California has made sustained progress toward extinguishing the pandemic a week ahead of its planned reopening, tenants' advocates want eviction moratoriums to be extended.

Our takes

Some soliloquy from Daniel Bornstein on where things stand

The long, dark winter of COVID-19 seems to be dissipating, but for San Francisco lawmakers, tenant protections should be continued, if not amplified.

The hardship of renters has not escaped us, but what is a reasonable path moving forward? The key term is reasonable.

For the most part, we have found that rental housing providers have exercised compassion and worked out deals in order to retain good tenants and maintain cash flow, without the need for any government edicts. 

Yet time and time again, tenants' advocates have asked landlords to inordinately shoulder the costs of these uncertain times. 

Ordinarily, landlords have faced maddening regulations when they want to use their properties to their heart's desire. For example, moving into their property themselves or ushering in a close relative, leaving the landlording business altogether, making substantial repairs, or converting their buildings into condos. 

During the pandemic, San Francisco has banned these no-fault evictions, but the Board of Supervisors recently extended the moratorium for another 90 days. 

Because there have been few ways to effectuate a vacancy, we have remained strong proponents of tenant buyout agreements. 

Proposals have been made, as well, to give tenants more breathing room to cough up 25% of COVID-related rent debt to be protected from eviction because of nonpayment of rent.

Let's talk a moment about commercial evictions. Facing the prospect of either having an empty storefront or filing an eviction lawsuit, we urge commercial landlords to continue negotiating payment arrangements in order to get over this hump, and Bornstein Law can certainly facilitate this dialog. 

Under the dome of the Capitol, politicians are debating whether to extend the statewide residential eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent and, while tenants' advocates are lobbying for the ban to last until the end of the year, we think a compromise will be struck, perhaps extending the moratorium until the end of September.

Do not quote us on that, as we have no crystal ball. 

We are at a crossroads.

There are many casualties of a pandemic that has affected both landlords and tenants. The question is how to pay for the economic loss and so far, it has been rental property owners who have had to bear the brunt. 

The law has provided some untested guidance. State and local rental assistance programs have been slow and dysfunctional to date. So we cannot necessarily count on our traditional tools of the courts, nor rely on promised aid from the government. 

Our community has to get back to basics by managing relationships, a skill our law firm has honed for over 26 years. 

Bornstein Law is encouraged that everything is trending in the right direction. We wish health and prosperity for everyone and recognize that the only way that landlords can emerge prosperous on the other side of the pandemic is to have a heart-to-heart conversation and think smartly and strategically about real estate investments.

Thank you for your continued engagement and we look forward to continuing the conversation for a long time to come.

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