Psychopathic San Francisco landlords crack under the strain

When my husband and I started looking to buy our own house, he was very gung-ho on buying a duplex.  His plan was that we would live in one unit and rent out the other, with the rent covering the mortgage.  In theory, it’s a great idea.  In practice — if you’re looking to buy in San Francisco — becoming a landlord is something only the very rich or the very masochistic should do.  Landlord-tenant laws are skewed so heavily in the tenants’ favor that it’s virtually impossible to evict tenants once they’re in.  In addition, if you buy a building with existing tenants, not only can’t you evict them, you also can’t raise their rents to market value.  I’d worked on several landlord-tenant eviction cases over the years, and I refused to put myself in that position.

Although this sounds like a renters’ paradise, it actually isn’t.  Landlords, especially those renting out middle- to lower-value properties have absolutely no incentive to do improvements.  Everything becomes an affordable slum.

And of course, if you’re a really unlucky tenant, your landlord might snap and go all psychopathic on you, as these landlords from Hell did.  Actually, it seems as if these people started out psychopathic, but I’ve known other, stronger, more mentally healthy people who cracked under the strain of trying to evict tenants if they were foolish enough to buy a tenant-occupied property.

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  • Earl

    You do NOT want to be a landlord in S.F. (or any other rent-controlled locality, I imagine).  My son was a renter in the Panhandle area near G.G. Park….a really nice building, but the owner wasn’t getting much rent, compared to the cost of the building and what it cost to support it. 
    Little enough that when some work was done on a ceiling light fixture, the worker found that the gas lighting system had never been turned off, not to mention removed……the whole system was still there, with each outlet simply capped and left right there next to the retro-fitted electric service. 

  • lee

    I knew someone who bought a duplex intending to combine the units into one unit, and live in it. (It’s a little easier evict if you are going to occupy it yourself.). The previous owner did not pass on the enant’s security deposit, and the tenant knew he wasn’t getting anything back. The battle with the tenant started with the garage–my friend wanted to convert some of the space to living space, and park in the rest of it. The previous owner had let the tenant park two cars there. My friend was willing to let him park one. Then the tenant quit paying rent, my friend tried to get them evicted. Eventually, the tenant did move out, and left an unbelievable mess that cost THOUSANDS of dollars to clean–even on top of what gutting the place was going to run. It was such a nightmare–my friend and her husband wound up getting divorced, she lost a ton of weight, and HAIR. (We all thought she was sick, but it was the stress.) When my friend was going through this, all I could think of was “Pacific Heights.”