Weak Eviction Disclosure Legislation Headed to Board

by Casey Mills on February 27, 2006

During the recent dust-up over Supervisor Chris Daly’s eviction disclosure legislation, ultimately vetoed by the Mayor, Supervisor Bevan Dufty offered a severely gutted version of the proposal as a compromise between the Board of Supervisor’s left and right factions. It fell with an overwhelming thud, failing to come close to appeasing the Board’s tenant advocates. Now, Dufty has plans to resuscitate the amendment as a stand-alone piece of legislation. Because of its milquetoast nature and dim chances at passage, the proposal seems like a way to appear good on tenant issues in his upcoming bid for re-election rather than a real effort to help the victims of eviction.

As it currently stands, when realtors sell homes where evictions of senior, disabled or catastrophically ill tenants occurred, they must inform potential buyers. However, they don’t need to inform them of these ‘bad’ evictions until the close of escrow, meaning as buyers are signing the papers finalizing the sale.

In order to provide potential buyers with the ability to be informed about the history of their homes, Daly’s legislation would have forced realtors to reveal to the public on any advertisements for properties and during showings if the site had a bad eviction in its past.

Dufty’s compromise, however, would merely force realtors to inform potential buyers of such evictions three days before close of escrow. That means buyers wouldn’t find out until after they’d viewed the house, made an offer on it, and had that offer accepted by the realtors. As anyone familiar with the housing market knows, waiting until this point to pull out of a sale when merely getting an offer accepted by a realtor is difficult would be a tough thing to do.

Dufty represents an area with a high number of tenants, a district where tenant advocate Matt Gonzalez won handily in the 2003 run-off against Gavin Newsom for Mayor. Dufty also faces re-election later this year, and his vote against Daly’s disclosure legislation – a relatively minor proposal to help aid the plight of those affected by evictions – revealed the Supervisor as extremely anti-tenant.

This revelation could hurt Dufty in his re-election bid, and his three-day legislation appears to be an attempt to limit the damage. Despite being extremely unlikely help tenants in a marked way, and despite likely being shot down by a Board of Supervisors who will see it for what it is, Dufty can argue that he tried to pass tenant-friendly legislation on campaign literature distributed during his re-election bid.

While Dufty’s legislation is a step in the right direction, it’s such a tiny step as to be inconsequential. If he wants to bring tenants into his camp, he needs to try much harder than this.

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