Zephyr Real Estate Takes Stand Against Ellis Act

by Casey Mills on August 15, 2006

A real estate firm formerly known for its willingness to represent Ellis Act evictors dramatically changed course recently, issuing a new policy that prevents their agents from working with landlords who used the Ellis Act to evict tenants. Zephyr Real Estate, a massive firm with five offices and more than 200 employees throughout the city, will be honored by the Board of Supervisors today for their actions. Zephyr’s new policy reveals just how far public opinion has changed regarding the Ellis Act, and could represent an important new strategy for tenant activists to stop Ellis Act evictions.

Opening in 1978, Zephyr Real Estate quickly grew to become the largest independent realtor in San Francisco. The thousands of properties they deal with make up a formidable portion of the buildings bought and sold in the city.

Their large market presence makes their decision to stop representing landlords who used the Ellis Act all the more important. It sends a strong message to property owners that, should they evict people with the Ellis Act, they will face more than just a tangle of city laws limiting its use – they will also face a real estate industry increasingly unwilling to help them sell their building.

“We understand from a realtor’s perspective that everyone’s not taking this position,” said Bill Drypolcher, president of Zephyr. “But we feel it’s best for the City of San Francisco. We’re bring Zephyr into conformity with how the city is thinking about the issue.”

That Zephyr was the first real estate firm in the city to create such a policy surprised some, who remember the company as hand in hand with evictors.

“This is a real redemption,” said Raquel Fox, a tenant attorney who was involved in multiple cases with Zephyr. “They used to be awful, and brought about all kinds of evictions.”

The move may spark a campaign to pressure more real estate firms into taking voluntary vows to not represent owners who have used the Ellis Act to evict tenants, potentially opening up a new front in the long-running battle over its use.

Filed under: Archive