CitiApartments' Conduct Comes Under Fire Again

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Joshua Sabatini
The Examiner

One of San Francisco’s
largest landlords and apartment-management companies continues to
purchase property and garner complaints from tenants despite a lawsuit
filed by The City two years ago charging that it uses strong-arm
tactics to force residents out of rent-controlled apartments.

The management tactics of CitiApartments and its parent company — Skyline Realty Inc.,
which owns hundreds of San Francisco buildings — have become the focus
of the Board of Supervisors, with a hearing held Monday to address
complaints and receive an update on the civil lawsuit.

The City
claimed in the lawsuit that the company’s security personnel used
“strong-arm tactics” such as after-hours visits, phone calls and
utility shut-offs to persuade tenants to leave.

One tenant told
The City he was denied apartment maintenance and that when he
persisted, he was met by three men employed by CitiApartments, one of
whom said that they had licenses to carry guns and that the tenant
should stop making trouble.

A separate lawsuit filed against CitiApartments claims that a man
showed up at a couple’s door carrying a gun and wearing military
fatigues. The man offered them money to move out and subjected them to
a “tirade of anger,” it says.

The City’s case remains in the evidence-gathering stage, Deputy City Attorney Jennifer Choi told the supervisors.

to a report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, CitiApartments
continued to purchase buildings in San Francisco in 2007 after being
sued by The City.

At Monday’s packed hearing, tenants spoke of
being intimidated or forced to live in poor conditions to induce them
to vacate units. Complaints included repeated offers of buyouts and
buildings in a constant state of construction, making living there

There were also tenants present who gave positive reviews of the landlord. Some wore “I support CitiApartments” T-shirts.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell said she was not persuaded by the show of support.

“The majority of the people have not been happy,” Maxwell said.

Tara Condon, the attorney representing CitiApartments, defended the practice of offering buyouts.

“Our buyout agreements can be canceled at will,” she said. “This is not a form of coercion.”

think we really have endeavored over the last year and half — frankly,
since the filing of the city lawsuit — to really do a great job,” she
told The Examiner after the hearing.

City officials say the
alleged wrongdoing by CitiApartments and its “family of entities”
decreases San Francisco’s below-market-rate housing stock and
undermines the rent-control ordinance.

“This matter is really about the diversity of The City, the soul of The City, and our rent ordinance,” said Supervisor Chris Daly, who called the hearing.

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document
may contain copyrighted material the use of which may not have been
specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Tenants Together is
making this article available on our website in an effort to advance
the understanding of tenant rights issues in California. We believe
that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as
provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to
use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond
'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Help build power for renters' rights: