Accused of waging an ongoing war of “harassment, intimidation, and retaliation” against dozens of rent-controlled tenants in an attempt to raise her rent-roll, City Attorney Dennis Herrera is now seeking an injunction to stop Anne Kihagi from continuing to harass and illegally evict tenants in the buildings which she now controls from the Castro to Russian Hill.
“In nearly 15 years as City Attorney, I’ve seen nothing to equal the vicious conduct and complete contempt for the law that we continue to see from this defendant,” said Herrera. “Anne Kihagi has been a ruthless predator—targeting tenants in rent-controlled apartments for harassment and illegal evictions, and singling out seniors and people with disabilities for particularly despicable abuse.
“The problem with this kind of lawlessness isn’t just that it hurts renters. It also hurts law-abiding real estate investors, who would be responsible landlords. Honest businesses shouldn’t have to compete with cheaters—that’s a fundamental premise of California’s Unfair Competition Law—and yet that’s exactly what’s happening here. Anne Kihagi is profiting from a lawless and unconscionable business model, and it enables her to outbid honest competitors. It hurts tenants, it hurts the real estate market, and it is why a tough, enforceable injunction is so desperately needed here.”
Kihagi and her business entities have acquired at least ten rent-controlled buildings in San Francisco, totaling more than 50 units since 2013. Fifteen (15) of Kihagi’s current or former tenants have already submitted declarations detailing a pattern of “fraud, harassment, threats, intimidation, verbal abuse, reduced and interrupted services, refusal to acknowledge receipt of tenants’ rent payments, and relentless attempts to evict tenants through unlawful means.” And according to a pending civil action filed earlier this year, once emptied, Kihagi routinely orders unpermitted renovations before re-renting the units to new tenants at higher rents.
If granted, Herrera’s injunction would also require Kihagi to fix all existing housing and safety code violations, obtain all requisite permits, submit to city inspections, and hire a third-party property manager for all of her buildings. The hearing on Herrera’s motion has been scheduled for December 23.
Properties at issue in the litigation include: 3947 18th Street, 195 Eureka Street, and 1139 Guerrero Street, which are all in or near the Castro; 650 Church Street near Dolores Park; 69-75 Hill Street in the Mission; and 1000–1022 Filbert Street in Russian Hill. Nineteen (19) of the twenty-one (21) Castro, Mission, and Russian Hill apartments that were tenant-occupied when Kihagi purchased the properties have been subjected to illegal practices aimed at driving tenants from their rent-controlled homes.
UPDATE: According to the City Attorney’s Office, Kihagi’s lawyers are now positioning to disqualify the judge slated to hear the case on December 23 and will likely seek a lengthy delay which the City will vigorously oppose.
UPDATE (12/15): A San Francisco Superior Court judge has rejected a pre-trial bid by landlord Anne Kihagi and her business associates to block City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s lawsuit.