An owner move-in eviction (OMI) is a type of eviction notice that a landlord can use if they want to recover possession of a rented property for their own use or for use by a close family member.
Frequently, this is used in areas where there are strong tenant protection laws, as it’s one of the few “just cause” for eviction recognized under such laws. For example, in San Francisco, a landlord can evict a tenant in order to move in themselves or to allow a close family member to move in under certain conditions.
The conditions and definitions for an OMI can vary by jurisdiction. Typically, they involve the landlord (or their family member) intending to move into the property as their primary place of residence and to reside there for at least a certain minimum period of time. In addition, there might be restrictions on the landlord’s ability to rent out the property again after an OMI eviction to prevent abuse of the process.
The effects of an OMI eviction can be significant for tenants. Tenants can lose their homes, and in areas with high rental prices or low vacancy rates, it can be difficult to find an affordable new place to live. Furthermore, the landlord might require relocation payments to help with the costs of moving and finding a new place, but these can vary widely by jurisdiction.
In terms of effects on domestic partners, in some jurisdictions, domestic partners are considered the same as spouses for the purposes of OMI evictions. That means if a landlord or their spouse wants to move in, they could potentially evict a tenant. However, the specifics can depend on local laws and regulations. If a tenant’s domestic partner is also listed on the lease, then they also have the same rights as the tenant in terms of protection against eviction.
What Are the Requirements of an Owner Move-In Eviction in San Francisco?
The requirements for an owner move-in eviction in San Francisco are as follows:
- The landlord or a close relative of the landlord (including a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or the owner’s spouse) must intend to use the rental unit as their principal residence for at least 36 continuous months.
- The owner or close relative should move into the unit within three months of the eviction notice.
- If a comparable unit owned in the same building is vacant or becomes vacant during the period of the notice terminating a tenancy, then the eviction notice must be rescinded. A vacant, non-comparable unit owned in San Francisco must be offered to the tenant being evicted.
- The landlord must have at least a 25% interest in the property if the ownership interest was recorded after February 21, 1991. If the ownership was recorded on or before February 21, 1991, then the landlord is only required to have a 10% minimum interest. Domestic partners can combine their interests to reach the required 10% or 25% interest in order to occupy a unit.
- Only one unit per building can typically be evicted for the owner’s use and occupancy.
- Certain tenants have a protected status and cannot be evicted for either the owner or the owner’s relative to move into a building that has 2 units or more. These include tenants who are at least 60 years old or who meet the disability guidelines for federal Supplemental Security Income and who have lived in the unit for at least 10 years. Additionally, tenants who are catastrophically ill and who have lived in the unit for at least 5 years.
- Tenants who have resided in a unit for 12 months or more cannot be evicted for an owner or relative to move in during the school year for the San Francisco Unified School District if a child under 18 or a person who works at a school in San Francisco resides in the rental unit, is a tenant in the unit or has a custodial or family relationship with a tenant in the unit.
- Say the rental unit is offered for rent during the five-year period following service of the notice to vacate. In that case, the landlord must first offer the unit to the displaced tenant and file a copy of the re-rental offer with the Rent Board within 15 days of the offer.
- Landlords will be required to file with the Rent Board a Statement of Occupancy with at least 2 forms of supporting documentation for the five-year period following recovery of possession of the unit.
- The eviction must be done in good faith, without ulterior motives, and with honest intent. There are specific actions that may indicate a lack of good faith on the part of the landlord, such as:
- Timing the eviction to avoid offering a tenant a replacement unit;
- Failing to file the notice to vacate with the Rent Board;
- Not moving into the unit within three months; and
- Occupying the unit as their principal place of residence for at least 36 consecutive months.
These rules are detailed and specific, so landlords or tenants facing this situation may wish to consult with a legal professional to ensure they are correctly interpreting and applying the law.
Can I Claim Unlawful Eviction?
Yes, you can claim unlawful eviction if you believe that your landlord has not complied with the legal requirements for eviction. This might include instances where you were evicted without sufficient notice, if the landlord did not have a just cause for eviction, or if the landlord used harassment or other illegal tactics to try and force you to leave.
Generally, if a landlord has violated the local eviction laws or the terms of your lease, you might be able to file an unlawful eviction lawsuit. The types of damages you might be able to claim could include things like moving expenses, the difference in rent if your new place is more expensive, and potentially even emotional distress.
In the context of Owner Move-In evictions in a city like San Francisco, if your landlord did not follow all of the requirements for an OMI eviction (such as if they didn’t actually move in, didn’t stay for the minimum required time, or if they rented out the property again too soon), then you might be able to sue for wrongful eviction.
Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer for an Owner Move In Eviction?
While it’s not strictly necessary to have a real estate lawyer for an Owner Move-In eviction, having one can provide many benefits. A knowledgeable San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyer can help you understand the local landlord-tenant laws, make sure you’re complying with all the necessary requirements, and provide guidance throughout the process to help you avoid any potential legal issues.
This is true whether you’re a landlord trying to carry out an eviction legally and smoothly or a tenant trying to understand your rights and options in the face of an eviction notice. An unlawful eviction can have serious consequences for a landlord and for a tenant. It can mean the difference between keeping your home or being forced to move out.
If you’re facing an OMI eviction situation and need legal assistance, LegalMatch is a valuable resource. LegalMatch is a service that matches you with a pre-screened, qualified lawyer who has experience in the specific area of law that you need.
LegalMatch offers a valuable service that makes finding the right lawyer easy, so you can focus on dealing with your situation. No matter whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, having the right legal advice can make a big difference in an Owner Move-In eviction.