SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A pair of senior citizens who live in a small home in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood say it’s unfair that they should have to pay $117,000 to help their evicted tenant find a new place to live. They are challenging a fairly new city-wide law in federal court to prevent that from happening.

The measure went into effect June 1st and requires landlords to pay an amount equal to the difference between the tenant’s current rent and the cost of comparable housing in the city for two years.

The law was implemented to stave off the wave of Ellis Act evictions the city is experiencing where property owners are allowed by law to remove their properties from the rental market and evict the tenants who occupied those units.

“What we have put together is a pretty reasonable standard that is actually based on where the market is today,” said City Supervisor David Campos, who authored the ordinance.

Daniel and Maria Levin don’t see it that way. They asked their tenant to leave and were quite surprised at the relocation fee they were told they’d have to pay on their tenant’s behalf. They’ve asked the court to strike down the new law.

During preliminary arguments on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer said one thing is certain: San Francisco is in a housing crisis.

The trial was fast-tracked by Breyer in August after he declined to issue an immediate temporary restraining order, blocking the law at the request of several landlords. The trial is geared towards accommodating an October 24th deadline for remaining evicted tenants to leave a 33-unit Nob Hill apartment building owned by Park Lane Associates, which is selling the units as tenancy-in-common properties.

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