1. ARE THE TENANTS PROTECTED?
Protected tenants cannot be evicted by way of an Owner Move In (OMI) eviction. Protected tenants are those who are 60 years or older or are disabled and have lived in the unit for at least 10 years or persons who have catastrophic illnesses and have lived in the unit for at least 5 years.
Make sure to get this information in a written disclosure if possible. However, some of this information is private (such as a tenant’s disclosure of HIV status), and may not be accessible to you. The selling agents word that the tenants are not protected is not enough. If it ends up that the tenant is protected, you still have the option of doing an Ellis Eviction. You should consult a qualified landlord-tenant attorney to discuss the Ellis procedure.
2. HOW LONG HAVE THEY LIVED THERE?
When deciding how to vacate your new TIC building, you want to consider the term of the tenancies of the tenants there. Long-term tenants (5 years or more) enjoy rent control. Keep in mind though, that many tenants who moved in 4-6 years ago took possession at the height of the rental market, and they may actually be paying a decent rent – similar to what they could find in the open market if they were evicted from their current unit. So make sure you obtain the current rental rates for the building from your real estate agent.
In addition to having the benefit of cheap rent, long-term tenants tend to have more personal possessions and furnishings in their units, and are very comfortable with their living situation. Needless to say, they do not want to move, and you will face much more opposition from a long-term tenant than a short-term tenant when you start the eviction process.
3. ARE THE TENANTS IN VIOLATION OF THEIR LEASE OR IN DEFAULT ON THE RENT?
You are probably thinking that this is not a good thing. Well, if you are looking to occupy this tenant’s unit, the fact that they are in breach of the lease or default on the rent gives you just cause under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance to evict the tenant. Another bonus is that you only have to give 3 day’s notice if they are in default on the rent and from 3-30 day’s notice if they are in breach of the lease agreement (the amount of notice depends on the type of breach). Also, there is no $1,000.00 relocation payment, as there is in an OMI eviction.
4. MAKE SURE TO SET SOME MONEY ASIDE IN ORDER TO GET THE UNIT(S) VACANT
Regardless of how you plan on getting the units of your TIC building vacant, it is not going to be free. If you choose to do an eviction, you will have to pay legal fees, statutory relocation payments, and possibly even money to settle the eviction prior to trial. Alternatively, if you would rather avoid litigation all together, you may attempt a move out negotiation with the tenant in which you pay them a certain sum for them to vacate. Please consult an attorney before initiating any such negotiations with the tenant(s).
5. MAKE SURE YOU GET GOOD LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE YOU COMMIT YOURSELF TO THE PURCHASE
Chances are, you do not want to become a San Francisco landlord—you want to move into the home you’ve saved up for and worked so hard to find. So, make sure you get sound legal advice before you make the purchase. You need to know your rights, and what you can and cannot do with your dream home.