Steve Luftman is the last man standing. Deciding to stay at his apartment following the last day of an eviction issued by the building’s landlord Matthew Jacobs last Friday, Luftman is now hopeful that he can continue to stay due to a filing error. He is the only tenant remaining at the Flores Street apartment buildings.
According to Luftman, Jacobs’ company, Bulldog Partners, LLC, did not file the Ellis Act eviction paperwork properly with the city.
Luftman will be filing a complaint with the city and is asking that Jacobs vacate the eviction or properly refile it under the Ellis Act.
“I’ve consulted with three lawyers and have a neighborhood friend who has gone through the Ellis Act eviction process,” Luftman said.
Luftman is receiving free legal help lfrom a neighbor and land-use lawyer, John Henning.
Henning said he is confident that Jacobs cannot evict his tenants because he did not comply with the Ellis Act.
“They didn’t do things in the right order. There’s a very specific order which they have to do things, where they file certain things with the city and then they serve the tenants and then file with the city again,” Henning said.
Henning, on behalf of Luftman, sent a letter to Jacobs and his lawyers about the errors found in the eviction paperwork, but has not heard back from the lawyers or Jacobs.
“I explained the errors they made, and I don’t represent [Luftman] but I do sympathize with [him]. I wrote to him and said this is the way in which you violated the Ellis Act. You have to start the process over again,” Henning said.
According to Luftman, Jacobs’ lawyers sent an amended eviction notice. However, an amended eviction notice does not comply with the law, Henning said.
“You can’t just send someone a notice of eviction under the Ellis Act and send out a new eviction notice and expect not to re-start the process all over again,” Henning said.
Neither Jacobs, nor representatives from his company, Bulldog Partners, LLC, responded to requests for comment.
City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, said he will be asking Jacobs to step down as chairman of the California Housing Finance Agency, a state agency that helps provide affordable housing.
“We are writing a letter to Mr. Jacobs asking to him to resign from his position with the agency. We believe this runs against the grain of what he’s supposed to do as chair of that agency,” Koretz said.
Additionally, Koretz is advocating for state legislation to amend the Ellis Act.
“The Ellis Act is pretty far removed from what it was originally intended for. It was not intended for developers,” Ko-retz said.
The Ellis Act, which was enacted in the 1980s, allows small, mom-and-pop landlords to sell their property if they are going out of the rental business, according to Henning.
“I’m still here. It is a huge investment of time and energy. It would have been much easier to leave and move on with my life, but I feel this is the right thing. We’re losing so much affordable housing. It’s so much easier to not take a stand against it,” Luftman said.
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