56 tenants sue San Francisco high-rise apartment owners and management at 33 Tehama

Evicted dwellers from a San Francisco South of Market high-rise apartment building are hauling its owners and managers into court for a laundry list of claimed abuses and illegalities they were forced to suffer. 

The fifty-six of the hundreds of tenants who lived in downtown San Francisco's 33 Tehama Street high rise, are suing the building's developer and owner, Hines Interests Limited Partnerships, in San Francisco Superior Court.

In June and then again in August, the tenants suffered two massive water leaks which damaged their property and forced two immediate, no notice evictions. "They were suddenly forced to leave, not knowing for weeks and, and in fact, months, where they were going to end up or where they would be able to call home," said the tenant's attorney Sarvenaz Fahimi. 

"What made us come here and sue Hines was actually the incompetence and utter lack of respect for the residents and also unethical behavior that we caught Hines' team and property management doing," said tenant Rohan Mukherji.

The tenants say Hines would not let them back into the building, abused them, misinformed them, communicated poorly with them, neglected them and treated them shoddily complete indifference and worse.  "Not only has jewelry gone missing from my unit, but inside of my bedroom, in my night stand, in a box there are checkbooks and those checks were removed from my night stand in a very obscure place and two fraudulent checks were cashed," said tenant Stephanie Sunwoo. "There a lot of illegal activities that's happening here that we are digging into," said Mukherji.

On top of that, they say, again with little or no notice, they were bounced around from hotel to hotel in and outside the city. "Which, of course, impacted out work as well. We didn't have a place to work. There were no accommodation for us, even in the hotels we were staying," said tenant Saba Mukherji.

Just before one tenant suffered all this, Hines demanded a rent increase. "Tehama sent me my new rates which were a month to month. We're going firm $,2600 to $9,749. So they were just effectively kicking us out," said tenant Eric Stinehart. It's all becoming too, too much. "Compound that type of insecurity with the instability that we've been provided and us kind of being uprooted from our life. It's just really tough. Sorry," said Sunwoo. 

The Hines firm sent a statement saying it has helped the tenants and states flatly, "We deny the allegations pled in this complaint."

The real danger for this company is the jury which can award punitive or punishment damages and those can be wildly large numbers.