Bay Area renter faced blacklist after fighting eviction

EL CERRITO, Calif. (KGO) -- As if getting evicted from your apartment isn't bad enough, in San Francisco and across the state, fighting eviction could ruin your credit and put you on a tenant blacklist whether you win or lose your lawsuit.

Denise Barton and her 18-month-old twin daughters live in a spacious home in the El Cerrito hills. It's nice, but not as close to work as her old apartment in San Francisco's Outer Richmond; the one she was evicted from a year ago.

"They told me I had to be out in 60 days," she said. "And in that notice they threatened that if I did not leave, they would file an unlawful detainer action against me."

That's legal first step towards forcing a renter out. But, Barton is an attorney and thought she had a good case for blocking the eviction. She found out otherwise.

"If I didn't prevail within 60 days, my name would go on this blacklist," she said. "And I would be prevented from renting again or my credit would be destroyed for seven years."

That's right. In California, you can challenge the eviction in court. But if there's no resolution within 60 days, your name goes on a list maintained by companies with names like UD Registry, The Registry, and RentCheck. Landlords check these sites before they rent, and often refuse to rent to the people on them.

And it doesn't matter whether you win or lose your lawsuit.

Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco has introduced a bill to change that.

"Our bill says that your name can't be placed on one of these lists until the end of the resolution of the case," he said.

The bill squeaked through the legislature by just one vote in each house. It's now on the governor's desk.

Landlords are lobbying hard for a veto. Noni Richen, president of the Small Property Owners San Francisco sent us an email reading in part, "Many of our members have only one rental, often in the same building where we live. We need to be able to access full credit information as any other business."

But for Barton, the experience has been so painful that she's leaving the Bay Area.
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