SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, June 29, a collection of real estate industries and landlord groups filed a lawsuit that seeks to block a new ordinance that the city of San Francisco is trying to pass, which would prevent landlords from evicting tenants due to rent or other penalties that occurred during the pandemic. 

The San Francisco Apartment Association (SFAA), the San Francisco Association of Realtors, the Coalitions for Better Housing, and other organizations and institutions filed a litigation  to challenge the new ordinance, arguing that it is not legal. The counter lawsuit alleges that banning evictions is unconstitutional and violates state law.

Various surveys conducted throughout the coronavirus pandemic have found that 97 percent of tenants continued to pay rent on time, but a small number of tenants were not able to, most of them due to unemployment or other financial issues. An SFAA survey conducted in May reported that 17 percent of small property owners had at least one tenant who failed to pay rent, and 17 percent of housing providers had tenants suddenly break the lease or move out.

Instead of banning landlords from evicting tenants, the SFAA suggested rent assistance as a logical solution, with rent reductions and payment plans as possible alternatives. Local landlords have been grappling with property taxes, mortgage, maintenance and utilities, and other costs, and expect that the current ordinance will add burdens to such costs.