San Francisco renters offered big buyouts from property owners as housing shortage continues

Some San Francisco property owners are offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to get renters out of their units. Housing experts say those buyouts being offered to renters is a sign that there is still not enough housing in the city.

San Francisco's notorious high rents took a dip as the pandemic wore on and more and more people left the city. Now, with renters returning, more and more property owners are offering buyouts to renters, to get their current tenants out, so they can rent the property for more money. In August of this year, a landlord for two San Francisco renters paid $410,000 for them to leave.

Todd David from the Housing Action Coalition, a group that advocates for more housing for all income levels, said the property owners will surely make that money back one way or another. "One has to assume that people are rational actors, right," said David from the Housing Action Coalition. "A landlord is not going to offer a ton of money to lose money, right? That's not the way people act. So, there must be an economic incentive to do that."

That incentive could be raising the rent on a rent-controlled property or selling that property. The issue, said David, is a continuing lack of inventory. The city, he said, still has not made meaningful steps toward building the housing the city will need. "It's the same story that we've been talking about for 50 years in San Francisco," said David. "We have not built enough housing, again, for people to afford at all the points on the income spectrum."

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David said the solution is to build more housing, and that if that push doesn't come from the city, it may have to be lead by the state.