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Scores of tenants have sued San Francisco's largest landlord for allegedly trying to drive them out -- as if rent weren't already a problem.
"Jaw-dropping rent" and "San Francisco" are practically synonymous for those who can barely afford to live there. At a median price of $3,460 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, it's enough to send city dwellers to the country.
Now, plaintiffs say, Veritas Investments is turning the screws on them to ratchet up rent. For them, it's getting ugly in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Making "Life Miserable"
Attorneys for 68 plaintiffs say it's clear the defendant wants to "get their rent-controlled tenants out."
"We have a message for Veritas Investments," said Ken Greenstein. "Leave your tenants alone, and stop trying to force them out, and make their life miserable so they will move out."
Their complaint alleges that Veritas buys buildings, then targets tenants with rent-control. The plaintiffs say the company schedules disruptive construction, fails to make repairs, and shuts off utilities for extended periods of time.
The suit also claims the landlord engages in "questionable practices" of increasing rent through "pass-throughs," by passing along high-interest loan charges to tenants.
San Francisco supervisors are trying to close the pass-through loophole. The city's rent-control ordinance limits landlords to annual increases of 2.2 percent, but it also allows landlords to petition for exceptions if the cost of operations exceeds the limit.
The San Francisco Examiner reported that landlords have taken advantage of the loophole by purchasing buildings in disrepair, and then paying for upgrades by petitioning for exceptions to rent-control.