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.

60 thoughts on “City Seeks Injunction to Combat Predator Landlord”
  1. Rent control is not really fair, is it? The easy solution for landlords – buy a property that is not subject to rent control. There are plenty of them out there. There is no excuse for this, you knew what you were getting into when you bought, so don’t flaunt the law.

    1. Lots of low life tenants out there too, Sabbie. This woman is quite a piece of work, and interesting to talk about based upon her properties’/cases’ own facts. Get off your high horse with the broad, “you” admonishment thing.

    2. Not exactly. Rent control laws have constantly been changed over the years. Always to the detriment of the landlord.

        1. Err…..the Ellis act is part of Costa Hawkins. And it’s a state law.

          Since RC was enacted in SF, it has been modified over 100 times, ALWAYS to the detriment of the LL.

          That’s the difference.

          1. Huh? The Ellis Act was passed in 1985 and the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act was passed in 1995.

            Ellis says a landlord can “go out of business” as a landlord and remove the tenants. Costa-Hawkins says a landlord can raise the rent in a rent-controlled unit to market rate if the original tenant has left.

            They’re different statutes.

  2. 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.

  3. Who’s her attorney? I wonder if she has any legal basis/arguments in her defense? Otherwise, if she really is violating SF’s RC laws that badly, I wonder if a reputable attorney (there a handful of well know ones) would want to represent her. Maybe all they care about is getting their fees, even if it’s a “bad” LL.

    1. On the topic of professional ethics, why doesn’t the relevant governing body revoke this person’s license to manage property?

    2. I heard from one of her former tenants (former as in evicted) that her attorney is currently under review and will likely be disbarred. Just a rumor, but likely true.

      1. That former tenant is definitely not biased in any way. Their anecdotal evidence is without a doubt not obscured in any way by them being evicted. /s

      2. A simple check on the CA State Bar Association website by entering the lawyer’s name clarifies the matter. Spreading rumors makes you look like an idiot.

  4. “It also hurts law-abiding real estate investors, who would be responsible landlords.”

    That is so true. I admit being prejudice against landlords and building owners because of the bad landlords I’ve had over the past 3 decades. I’m not a naive lamb. I understand that the tenant/land lord relationship is a business and legal relationship. Each side has obligations and rights, but, man, some of these landlords hate their tenants even before they get to know them.

    It used to be that one ethnic group was the big landlord offender (don’t act like you don’t know who I’m talking about), but now everybody has gotten into the act.

    1. SFresident: There are just as many terrible tenants as landlords. (I’ve also had some great tenants who have become personal friends.) As a long term landlord in the city that does not own a rent controlled building, I treat my tenants with kid gloves primarily so that I don’t have to deal with any BS. Have I done well financially out of being a landlord? Absolutely. But I actually am providing a valuable commodity/service to the community that should be fairly rewarded.

  5. Her Lawyer should advise her to just Ellis these buildings asap, and sell them to new owners.

    Rent Control is a disaster, and the ever more ridiculous rules the sups keep passing are forcing more and more owners to sell, and out of offering rentals. No one is going to subsidize long-term tenants, it’s just a matter of time. The greed is on both sides, I’m not supporting this landlords actions, but tenants who pay next to nothing should really be making a plan to secure their future housing. As the rules get tighter & tighter for owners, the pressure is on. Unless Herrera of any of the Supervisors want to subsidize you. This is the crisis in SF, it’s not lack of housing, it’s lack of control of properties by their owners. San Francisco just keeps shooting it’s self.

    When the rent rules are change every few months, always in favor of the tenant, anyone who became a LL just 6mths ago didn’t sign up for what the laws are today. Small mom + pop owners have been screwed left & right by this City, no wonder they’re all selling. Too bad for renters.

    We need to PHASE OUT RENT CONTROL to make it fair. Don’t complain that owners are throwing in the towel – just who do you think should support people who can pay market rent? The mom + pop types that worked 3 jobs to buy a place!

    1. Rent control doesn’t work and it’s been proven time and time again in countless studies that it works _detriment_ of tenants.

  6. This lady better have one hell of an umbrella policy. The legal liability she is exposing herself is enormous.

  7. What I notice is that people believe landlords are running a charity of sort and should forego income to subsidize tenants. Here’s what I overheard one time while sitting at a restaurant the ground floor of an apartment building: “Hey, see that guy out there unloading his car? He owns the building.. all he does is collect rent and does nothing.. it’s the biggest scam in the world man!” I was going to interject, but then realized that it’d be futile to try and argue with fools.

      1. Sure did. You can’t believe how many comments from FB friends I read who complain about their rent being raised. Then read through the comments where people whine and blame the landlord for being greedy.

        1. Renters whining about their annual 1.9% rent increases? Wait until they get the bill for 50% costs of the mega Housing Bond which passed back in November. Does anyone know the actual amount of the additional parcel fees from that bond?

  8. I am not a renter in the City, so i admit i am naive as to how specifically Landlords are “screwed.”

    I can see how rent control certainly may constrain the profit margin against market conditions, but don’t landlords go into such an arrangement knowing the constraints? Is the suggestion that potential landlords are buying properties only to be blindsided by rent control?

    At some point the “subsidized” unit was not a subsidy but was the market rate, but i am failing to see how prudent financial analysis would lead to landlords being screwed, or is it simply they are screwed in the notion that they could be profiting at a greater level than allowed by law and there is just not enough appreciation for that kind of greed against those who may not be able to keep up with market rate, a number which seems to be growing exponentially.

    1. A RC tenant has essentially a lifetime lease. You are correct that initially the rent paid is at the current rate, but after twenty years of annual rent increases of 60% of CPI that tenant is paying typically much less than market rate. There is also the issue of the changing laws and rules regarding rent control. When I bought my two unit building it was not covered by the RC rules. Then in 1994 Prop. I passed and 2-4 unit buildings were included under RC. I could have sold but I live in one unit and could rent the other if rent control was changed.

      1. Let me see if I get this straight … because you can’t get market rate out of the same tenant in perpetuity, you elect to get nothing? Talk about cutting off your head to spite your nose.

        1. He probably brought the joint decades ago for want today would be a joke (like $400-500k for both units.). So he can afford not to hassle with BS RC laws that he didn’t sign up for, and avoid it all together.

          This is a great example of someone purposely keeping a unit off the market. Because they can. And they don’t want to deal with RC. Which reduces the housing rental stock, which increases overall rent. Karma Is a bitch!

  9. Funny how a blog post on what is clearly a law breaking slumlord that would engender a “put her in a dark hole and throw away the key” reaction from most of the general public, instead becomes a stepping off point of the Socketsite commentariat to rant about the “evils” of rent control.

    Says a lot about the average readership of this website.

    1. Yeah, I mainly read the comments on this one thinking, ah, here’s one case where you won’t get a bunch of deranged libertarians ranting about rent control; everyone will say here’s a case of totally disgusting misbehavior that ruins things for the rest of us who obey the law, even when we disagree…nope still deranged libertarians.

      1. Gotta agree on this one. The landlord in question is obviously being stupid and doing illegal things. This is a fringe case, in my opinion, when it comes to tenant treatment and it should be punished. I’m not sure printing this story does much more then get both sides (landlord and tenant) riled up, contributing to an already unhealthy culture in sf. It’s so hard to have an uncontentious conversation with tenants in the city (I’m a landlord), because the established narrative is that “landlords are profiteering a-holes” and “tenants are welfare addicts”.

        The market here is totally backwards. More vacancies = higher sales values. Shorter term tenants are better than long term tenants. And you can’t do much of anything without talking with a lawyer because there’s so much to tiptoe around, which just contributes to more viciousness from both sides.

  10. Anne Kahagi sounds like an idiot. Why violate numerous laws and subject yourself to enormous fines (or jail time), when you can simply Ellis the buildings if you want to increase their value by evicting the below-market-rate tenants?

    1. because ellis act takes times, money and requires justification and paperwork.

      i’m not sure if you read about this lady. she’s an african who began in west hollywood with this sh*t, then moved on up here. she runs numerous aliases and uses every trick in the book (as detailed above). when the city first started looking into her, she filed a harassment lawsuit based on racism against the city! she’s unlikely to end up having her properties sold out from under her, but i think she’ll find that her business model won’t work here.

  11. For the true professional landlords and decent, honest tenants, rent control really is neither all that bad or all the great, depending on which camp you are in. Landlords can make a fair amount of profit, and tenants can have some security that their costs cannot balloon in an unpredictable way.

    If we either did not have an economy based on money, or if people were fair 100% of the time, we would not need rent control. But that’s not the world we live in, so we have it, and it can be lived with.

    1. How come many cities get along just fine without rent control? Where will you find a cheaper new apartment, San Francisco or Chicago? And actually, nobody saw any “need” for rent control in San Francisco in 1960. Only when demand greatly outpaced supply due to restrictive laws was there any “need” for rent control.

  12. Oh, and this Anne Kihagi is a terrible, immoral business person. She should face the highest civil and, if warranted, criminal sanctions appropriate. Her properties should be placed in receivership, and she should be prohibited from being a landlord in San Francisco.

  13. That’s still off, though. Having a tenant in the first place is clearly a larger hassle than RC. His costs are more or less fixed, and as has already been established, cheap. Maintenance costs may have gone up in the years since, but he’ll have to pay those regardless of whether there’s a tenant to help offset the cost or not.

    Most people would rent the second place and happily collect $3000 extra each month, even knowing that down the road they may end up renting out for less than market rate.

      1. Once again: RC (for small props) — its not about the money! Its about controlling who lives in your bldg with you. And about the constantly changing rules.

        And it came about (1979) at the point of the lowest population SF had since WW2. One could in part blame a slew of newcomers bringing their ideology & politics to the City. Of course, rents WERE escalating as well. And of course, the only real winners are the lawyers (and politicians).

        However, this story is sad and disgusting – maintaining the narrative that LLs are sleazy, greedy, & immoral. Actors like this should be held to their behavior. Good riddance.

  14. North Beach, if you think of a tenant as a “hassle” then do not be a landlord. A tenant is a customer, or a client, and as such needs to be treated honestly and under the well published rules of the road, also know as Rent Control. Costs are not fixed, and while they do not track with market rate, pass-throughs are a lawful way to even out discrepancies relative to a building’s operating costs.

    Mark F, your entire premise is wrong. Where on earth do you get the idea that “many Cities” get along fine without rent control. Do you have any data on that? What does “get along fine” even mean? A Chicago v SF comparison is a poor one at best, and your history of SF Rent Control being a product of supply and demand in the 1960 is wrong.

  15. I’m always amazed at how often commenters on Socketsite complain about rent control, but I see nary a complaint about Prop 13. Which of the two truly causes more dysfunction in the real estate market?

    Isn’t rent control part of the due diligence of property evaluation?

    1. I think you would find that the majority of commenters on Socketsite are opposed to Prop 13. It only seems that the staunch supporters of rent control seem to equate opposition to rent control with support for Prop 13.

      They both cause dysfunction in the real estate market. A pox on them both.

    2. Rent control is city regulation and covers only residential rental property.

      Prop 13 is a state regulation and covers all properties.

      There is zero relationship between them.

        1. Read that. You didn’t seem to fare out so well in that exchange, did you, ole boy?

          For the record, RC and most of the silly ordinances our foolish sfgov passes almost always have unintended consequences that usually restrict rental supply and help push market rents up.

          1. Fared well enough to established the direct linkage as reported by those who backed the legislation. Evidently, yet again, you’ve misread or only read shallowly. FTR, from an article in one of the links I provided in that thread on Sockesite 9 months ago:

            Many factors converged in the late 1970s to bring about the dictate of rent control …. Proposition 13 threw fuel on the fire. One of Howard Jarvis’ arguments for rolling back and rapidly freezing escalating property taxes (an inflation-induced mess, too) was that the savings would be passed onto tenants. Although several large San Francisco property owners passed Proposition 13 savings on to some 7,000 tenants, most landlords did not. In jurisdictions with large tenant populations like San Francisco, the empty promises became a rallying cry for activists…. Activists like Calvin Welch wanted a rebate codified …. To this day, Welch says that because of his actions, “Jarvis was the father of rent control.”

            The Birth of Rent Control in San Francisco, by Jim Forbes & Matthew C. Sheridan

            You can ignore history or deny it all you want, but the relationship between prop 13 and rent control in California is well documented. And FTR, all ordinances of any magnitude or longevity have unintended consequences. It would be silly and/or foolish to expect otherwise.

            FWIW, rent control in SF has certainly impaired RE ROI over the long term. No doubt about it. If we hadn’t had rent control for so long, neighborhoods with concentrations of RC and low-income, like the Tenderloin and Mission, would have had much more investment, gentrification, and displacement of the poor. And that would have increased the value of the RE there as well as in adjacent neighborhoods. SF would be wealthier and the market rents would be higher on average. Even conservative economists learned that from the results of removing RC in Boston/Cambridge. Of course I’ve explained that to you before and provided links to studies, but no matter how many times you lead a horse to water, you can’t make him not foul it up.

          2. Dear sir, I’m afraid that you’re a victim of correlation is not causation. To quote your reference, “proposition 13 threw fuel on the fire.” That’s it. Of course political activists will throw everything available towards their cause. The fact that prop 13 is state law and RC is only in a handful of municipalities speaks for itself. Bottom line- there are substantially more differences than similarities between the two. What BVSF meant was exactly that, and s/he is correct.

            I’m afraid you’re also wrong about your assessment of long term property values in SF. What RC has done is create distortions in overall SF property values, due to the large variance in rents. The key is that market rents are higher due to RC highly restricting available supply. So some property owners with many low rent units took a hit, while others with turnover made out very well. But even that variance was mitigated by the option of Ellis evictions as well as monied long term buy and hold investors who can wait out the long term tenancies. Plus of course 2-4 unit bldgs have the tic and condo home ownership angle, greatly enhancing their value.

            While I agree that average rents would be higher if SF never implemented RC, it would also be a very different city- more bland and generic in its composition. It wouldn’t be as desirable of a city IMO. And hence its hard to say if the overall long term desirability would be reduced, as the cultural character and significance of neighborhoods went away. One could argue that it’s happening already, but it’s a matter of degrees. Without RC it could be closer to a wholesale process. At the end of the day, it’s the tension between the two very different approaches that makes the city super desirable and super expensive. Which is why I’m not wholesale opposed to RC. As policy, and as a feeble attempt to help tenants overall I think it folly. But as a distortion inducing, spin doctoring business model for RE investors (as well as long term tenants), I think it’s great.

          3. Of course I didn’t say prop 13 caused rent control. So thanks once again for misrepresenting what I wrote to invent a strawman worthy of your feeble logic. Perhaps you wouldn’t be so “afraid” and resort to such affectations if you were better informed.

            What I did write 9 months ago on Socketsite was that wrt to prop13 and RC, “the underlying justification for both was to shield current and future populations of owners and renters from rapid cost increases in property assessments and rents, respectively. They aren’t just to be compared, they are historically combined.”

            FWIW, rent control has been tested at the state level in California many times. It has been on the statewide ballot as recently as 2008, affected and shaped by acts of the legislature, and adjudicated by the State Supreme Court. All the authority San Francisco has to enact rent control comes from the State of California. The state has merely granted local gov’t an option constrained by the state constitution and laws. An option which the state can take away, as Massachusetts did to Boston. Any idea that RC has no basis in state law is wrongheaded. It wasn’t brought down from the mountain by Moses, and it isn’t a clause in the US Constitution.

            Regarding your RC econ lesson, well, we’ve debated that before on SS and you’ve apparently learned nothing nor ever refuted what I’ve written or the sources I’ve referenced, so not worth regurgitating that; wouldn’t want to be a victim of another round of sowing seed on stony ground.

          4. I’m afraid, ole chap, that once again you are twisting my words In a feeble attempt to forward your (flawed) opinion. Where did I say that you said that prop 13 caused RC? What I said was that the relationship between the two was limited, even if they stemmed from similar circumstances. Namely because one is statewide, and the other adopted by a few cities. The constituencies which benefit from each are completely different (select renters vs all CA homeowners.)

            And the effects of RC are always city specific. That its allowance stems from CA legislature doesn’t bring it closer to the mammoth impact of state wide prop 13. The dollar volume of impact of the two are not even close to being on the same scale. Overall, their effects are very different and their relationship is very limited when compared directly.

            As for the effects of RC on property values, your sideline opinions on the matter mean little to those of us that have learned to benefit from its distortions. Most active SF investors agree with me, namely that it can increase or decrease a specific building’s value, depending on the circumstances. They would also agree with my characterization of the overall effects on the SF RE market, as I’ve written above. NYC still has RC and the effects on their property values are (and have been) similar. Pulling out an academic study or two is irrelevant when you compare it to persistent facts on the ground. It’s obvious that you’re not a RE investor in this city.

          5. Now who is “a victim of correlation is not causation.” You waste so many words to say so little, fumbling semantics in your awkward self-congratulations. And then you do it again. You can make whatever unsupported claims you want and count whoever you think thinks like you, no matter to those of us who know better. What have you written on this thread that isn’t either false or trivial?

            And you are even wrong about my investment portfolio. You really do like to make things up and then invest your belief in them, as you have once again made obvious.

  16. Well if you actually have an SF rental property in your “investment portfolio” then you also have the dubious distinction of being willfully misinformed about its intrinsic value.

    1. You’re foolish enough to believe a couple of academic studies, which have nothing to do with making wise investments. You’re the one conflating this irrelevant nonsense with facts on the ground, which you obviously are lacking or incapable of grasping. But good luck with that, old boy!

    2. Speaking of making things up and believing in them, now you claim to know how informed I am about the value of SF property, when I have never posted on SS an assessment of the value (intrinsic or otherwise) of any property. And when people do make such posts, how would you know they weren’t just jerking you around? Maybe playing with the value to play the players.

      But there you go again giving away your free opinions, worth just what we paid for ’em.

  17. UPDATE: 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.

    From the City Attorney’s office:

    “Kihagi’s pre-trial moves aimed at derailing Herrera’s suit included two demurrers involving Kihagi and business associates. Neither pleading challenged a single fact Herrera alleged, contending instead that such ruthless and defiant business conduct is entirely lawful. Another of Kihagi’s attempted procedural roadblocks sought to strike portions of Herrera’s complaint involving widespread code violations at nearly all of Kihagi’s San Francisco properties. Kihagi’s legal team advanced an unfounded interpretation of California law, arguing that such allegations were improper because the violations were already corrected. In fact, the violations were nearly always abated long after the deadlines imposed by the Department of Building Inspection.

    Ruling from the bench at this morning’s hearing, Judge Harold E. Kahn overruled both demurrers in their entirety, and similarly denied in its entirety Kihagi’s motion to strike.”

  18. I lived in Anne Kihagi’s 8 unit apt building in West Hollywood. from the moment she bought it/ or the bank, lent her the money for the down/ she harassed or paid off 4 of the tenents to move out. she was not known for good behavior, but then the apartment building had 4 non- leased units…. her win. Kihagi procceded to Ellis the other 4 out, including me, and i’m disabled. She has not offered us back our old apartments, as we requested, and the Ellis stipulates, instead renting them at market rate. the City of West Hollywood is also sueing her.

    If you can believe it, she, with an amazing jump of illogical gaul, claimed the 8 unit building was not Ellised, only 4 units were, therefore she could rent out the 4 unoccuppied units as she wished. She took the established understood meaning of the totality of of an apartment house, that is the whole building, and has been trying to parse the whole into individual units, which she claims are not under the rules of rent control.

    Aside from her obscene activities, she herself , I can only describe as psychotic/ mentally ill. Her backstory is unbelievable in its messy greed. She came to this county a citizen of Kenya to study in Philadelphia. She promptly married a chinese man who is a us citizen to get ‘into’ this country. she pushed thru her citizenship, and divorved her husband 5 years later in S.F. The law actually looked into this, but since everyone lied, the law did not persue. She had made her way to S.F before moving to Los Angeles. she uses the name Anne Kihagi-Swain, in spite of the fact that Charles Swain never married her. Look up the case between the 2 in court, in dividing their shared interest, your mouth will drop. I know she has/had a brother who is a minister in the bay area. Her other proposed sisters and mother, should be heavily investigated as to their true relationship.

    She has abused, cheated, and not paid the teams she hires to set up and do the illegal, non-permitted renovations and the workers who are illegal are treated like servants.

    I still can’t believe the terrible times which I have suffered due to her buying the building i had lived in for 15 years, and the subsequent spiteful, greedy and illegal twisting of rent control for her ends, while I lose out.

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