SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco Supervisors are asking the city’s largest corporate landlord, Veritas Investments, to hit the pause button on selling dozens of buildings.
More than 2,000 tenants live in the 76 buildings Veritas intends to sell. Many of those tenants have rent control and have made serious complaints about Veritas over the years. They worry another large corporate landlord will buy their building and push them out.
“We are here to say the homes of thousands of San Franciscans are more than just commodities to be sold for maximum profit,” Supervisor Dean Preston said at a press conference Monday.
Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer says the decision to sell 76 buildings goes against the promise Veritas made to her that it would be a long-term investor in San Francisco.
“It is contrary to their claim that they care about the tenants in their buildings this was also a big fat lie,” Fewer said.
In KPIX’s Project Home series, we’ve profiled dozens of tenants who are suing Veritas. They’ve accused the company of harassing rent controlled tenants with constant renovations and others endured rent increases as Veritas passed along its mortgage debt to them.
Tenants like Ray Sullivan say the company consistently fails to make necessary repairs. He worries another large corporate landlord taking over will mean more of the same.
“With the sale of the building, here we go again. I’m treated as a commodity and it’s compromised my health and safety,” Sullivan said.
Veritas announced the sale of the 76 building portfolio on December 20. In San Francisco, nonprofits get first dibs at using public money to help the tenants in rent controlled buildings buy the building themselves under what’s known as the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act.
Veritas gave the necessary notice under COPA, but supervisors worry it was intentionally buried during the holidays. “It’s hard to see it as anything else,” Preston said.
Many tenants are just finding out about the sale, so tenant’s rights groups published the full list of 76 addresses online. Because of that, Veritas says it refuses to work with city supervisors on this issue.
“The breach of the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act has undermined our ability to work with Supervisor Preston and the Housing Rights Committee in good faith. The release of this confidential information is both illegal and unacceptable,” Veritas said in a statement.
The multi-million dollar question is: why does Veritas want to sell such a significant portion of its portfolio? Veritas wouldn’t answer that Monday night.