San Francisco landlords sue over rent relief bill

Landlord associations filed suit in California Superior Court this week against a city back rent relief bill, originally intended to relieve pandemic-related debt for small businesses.   

Hair salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and other businesses that fell vulnerable during the COVID-19 shutdown collectively acquired $44.9 million in unpaid rent per month in San Francisco, according to a report from the Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office.   

The bill, proposed by Dean Preston and approved by the Board of Supervisors in July, worked to dismiss certain rent debt, but landlord groups the San Francisco Apartment Association and the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute are in opposition to the "staggering" amount of back rent the bill would wipe out, according to the filing.   

"These landlord associations are trying to kick neighborhood businesses when they are down," said Preston. "This was an attempt to give our mom and pop small businesses a fighting chance to get back on their feet, and now the Apartment Association wants to pull the rug out from under them."