SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Residents of a San Francisco apartment building said they are being forced out, after a small fortune in rent checks goes missing.
“When I first started talking to lawyers about this case, they just shook their heads and said ‘We’ve never heard one like this before,’” said Tom Anderson, who lives in the apartment building at 26th Street and Treat Avenue with his son.
“And there’s other children that live here too. The couple upstairs have two children,” he said.
A few months ago, residents heard rumors that they were going to be evicted. They went to the building’s master tenant, who lives next door and collects the rent checks.
“He told us that everything would be fine, don’t worry about it,” Anderson said.
But things were not fine. The people living in the building said they were going to be evicted for not paying their rent, even though the tenants said they had been handing over checks every single month.
“I’d say well over $20,000 to $30,000,” Anderson said.
It wasn’t just the rent that went missing. Residents said they were never served with the legal paperwork required for an eviction.
“So I had to go to the courthouse and get my own copies – and pay for it myself,” Anderson said.
The one person who is not facing eviction is the master tenant who collected the rent. Anderson said, “I’d like to know what kind of deal there was between the landlord and the apartment manager.”
Sara Shortt of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco told KPIX 5, “This is one of the more egregious stories about an eviction that we’ve heard in a while.”
“What’s particularly terrible about this case is that the tenants have had no due process. It seems like they suddenly found that they had to be out of their homes,” Shortt said.
This is not the first ugly fight in a city where rents are soaring, the pressure to capitalize is high, and the stakes for families are higher.
“In San Francisco, losing your apartment a lot of the time means you have to leave the city,” Anderson said.
Shortt said there is also another trend emerging. “At the same time that we’re seeing more eviction activity, we’re seeing tenants who are willing to stick their necks out and fight to stay,” she said.
“I’m gonna fight to keep my little place in the city here. As hard as I can,” Anderson said.
KPIX 5 left several messages with the master tenant and the landlord, but received no response. Late Thursday afternoon, the landlord’s attorney said this is an unfortunate situation but not the responsibility of the property owner.