SAN FRANCISCO – 12-31-2018 ( — In City of San Francisco v. Kihagi, the City did a few things to unknowingly expose its true intentions – to run Ms. Kihagi out of San Francisco. Among the most notable, they brought in the head of the San Francisco Rent Board, Ms. Wolfe, to testify. She was quite candid and refreshingly honest, testifying that the department received thousands of complaints from tenants in the city, and how they adjudicated such hearings. In fact, the rent board adjudicated one tenant’s issues in a complaint against Ms. Kihagi – an expert process and testimony that was ignored by Judge Angela Bradstreet

The two-month trial was not unlike what the San Francisco Rent Board hears daily – except it only takes three hours at the Rent Board. The Rent Board assesses the value of housing services withdrawn by the landlord or rent credits owed to the tenant if the landlord withdraws parking or storage space, or substantially reduces a housing service that was included in the tenant’s rental agreement.In this instance, only one tenants petitioned the Rent Board on the grounds of decreased housing services. The Rent Board required the tenants provide the date they gave notice to the landlord of her duty to repair, as well as whether the service was included in their original rental agreement. Ms. Kihagi was out of the country at the time, and her request for a continuance was denied by the Rent Board, so the proceeding was sent forward without the landlord’s presence.After evidence was presented, the Rent Board administrative judge rendered a decision: none of the items in the tenants’ complaint (construction noise, overflowing trash, interrupted mail service, etc.) were continuing, recurring or substantial enough for the Rent Board to compensate the tenants or punish the landlord, with the exception of the lost backyard use and storage space on the back porch. Had Ms. Kihagi been present she would have shown the tenants’ estoppel certificates showing they had no storage or use of a garden. Ms. Kihagi’s attorneys urged the trial Court to take notice of that Rent Board decision as an advisory opinion in this case, as they are the experts in this field. In the Rent Board’s ruling, they only awarded $100 in rent reduction until the issue was resolved. That was without knowing that these tenants actually lied about losing storage space – they failed to tell the Rent Board that what they called “storage” was an area behind a water heater on a stair landing used for emergency exit, a hazard that they were aware of. Even still, with the Rent Board hearing thousands of cases annually, most landlords only face a $100 penalty. Judge Bradstreet, however, has had this singular case against a successful black landlord, and she clearly intended to make an example of it. She has called for penalties in excess of $2.5 million – as compared to the usual $100 – against Ms. Kihagi. Given the evidence and professional procedures provided, it’s clear that this case and these rulings have nothing to do with violations or complaints; it is all a thinly veiled attempt to run a black landlord out of San Francisco. For more information on Anna Kihagi & West 18th Properties, @annekihagi1 

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