SF Rent Board Commissioner Urged to Resign as Case Against Him Heads to Trial

Monday, July 15, 2013

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Dean Preston

July 15th, 2013


Trial is scheduled to begin today in a lawsuit against San Francisco Rent Board

Commissioner Bart Murphy.
Tenants Together, the San Francisco Tenants Union, and the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, issued a
joint statement calling for Murphy to resign, or be removed, from the Rent Board in the event that Murphy is
found guilty of the violations alleged in the case. Murphy, long a divisive figure on the San Francisco Rent
Stabilization and Arbitration Board ("Rent Board"), is a major local landlord and President of a property
management company that manages over 500 residential units. The case alleges that Murphy failed to abate a
serious mouse infestation in order to drive a long-term, rent- controlled tenant from her home.

"We are deeply concerned by these serious allegations that have survived to the point of trial. If the allegations
are true, and we have no reason to doubt the tenant's story, Bart Murphy has no business serving on a
commission in this city, especially a commission that passes judgment on tenant claims against landlords,"
commented Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters'

According to tenant Deborah Silverman, she was driven from her rent-controlled apartment of over 10 years due
to a
infestation that
Murphy failed to
despite repeated notification. The City of San Francisco
issued two different Notices of Violation against Murphy's Limited Partnership ordering the landlord to abate the
and "immediately prepare [Plaintiff's Unit] for extermination and exclusion and serviced by a licensed
pest control operator ("PCO")." A qualified professional was never hired
and Plaintiff endured
a prolonged,
unnecessary rodent infestation
that allegedly drove her from her home.

According to the plaintiff's counsel, "Defendants ignored the DPH orders to use a licensed PCO
to exterminate
and exclude mice." Plaintiff also alleges "Defendants continued their unrelenting, baseless
accusations against
Plaintiff in an effort to harass her into giving up her rent-controlled apartment so they could profit financially by
re-renting it out to new tenants at market rate. Evidence produced in this matter unequivocally demonstrates
that Defendants permitted a
rodent infestation to spread throughout
the Premises and Property and failed
comply with directives of the DPH."

Murphy filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to throw the case out without a trial. Murphy's motion
was denied, sending the case to trial.
The trial is estimated to last 6 days.

The tenant is represented
by attorneys Eric Lifschitz and Aaron Darsky of the Law Offices of Eric Lifschitz, a San
Francisco tenants ' rights law firm. According to Lifschitz, "We will present evidence that Murphy ignored,
harassed and humiliated Ms. Silverman, refusing to remediate her rodent-infested apartment until she could no
longer endure it. We intend to demonstrate that Murphy acted in bad faith toward our client by refusing to do
what any reasonable property manager would have done
comply with the Department of Public Health's
directives and hire a licensed PCO to treat the infestation. Murphy will be prosecuted by the very laws he is
tasked with enforcing as a Rent Board Commissioner."

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