A San Francisco Superior Court Judge has ordered a landlord accused of committing hundreds of state housing law violations against rent-controlled tenants to pay roughly $2.4 million in penalties to the city.
In a statement, Judge Angela Bradstreet made a tentative ruling against landlord Anne Kihagi and her associates, accusing her of harassment, service reductions and unlawful and fraudulent evictions, SFGate reports.
Besides a number of violations documented by the Department of Building Inspection against Kihagi’s properties, the court found more than 1,250 violations of California’s unfair competition law.
Kihagi and her family began buying residential properties in the Mission, the Castro, Noe Valley and North Beach beginning in June 2013, investing a total of $24 million in real estate and amassing 50 units across the city.
Kihagi reportedly accumulated properties by purchasing buildings containing rent-controlled units and using legal and illegal means to replace below-market renters with higher-paying tenants. The landlord reportedly added $8.8 million in value to her properties by evicting rent-controlled tenants and signing leases with tenants willing to pay higher rents.
The former investment banker and Kenyan immigrant also bought multifamily properties in West Hollywood; where Kihagi was sued by the city for violating state housing laws. A judge ordered her to be jailed for five days, but she’s appealing the ruling.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office sued Kihagi in June 2015. “You can’t come to this city and lie, cheat and steal your way to massive wealth on the backs of residents,” he was quoted as saying. “We’re not going to allow it.”
In December of that year, former Supervisor Scott Weiner described Kihagi as "a sociopath who has no regard for the lives or well-being of her tenants and no regard for the law."
The judge’s decision voids Kihagi’s pending evictions—including a number of elderly residents who were in the process of being evicted from their residences on Guerrero Street—and prevents the landlord from communicating with any past, present or future tenants.
She’ll instead have to hire an independent, city-approved property manager. Kihagi has also been ordered to pay the city $2.4 million for expenses associated with its cases against her.
Kihagi’s lawyer said the court case was driven by “a tenant-activist group” attempting to influence the city to make Kihagi “a scapegoat.”