SF tenant moves, but still in fight over 400 percent rent increase

Friday, May 1, 2015
SF tenant moves over 400 percent rent increase
The San Francisco tenant hit with a 400-percent rent increase is packing up and moving out, but hasn't given up the fight.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco woman who got hit with a 400-percent rent increase is packing up and moving out.

The landlord raised her rent to $8,900 a month, but she can't afford to pay that much while she fights it.

7 On Your Side reported on her story after her Facebook post last month went viral. At the time, Deb Follingstad could hardly believe what was happening to her. And although she is moving out, she's hardly raising the white flag.

Follingstad's home is understandably a mess since the May 5 deadline to move is just days away. She says leaving her home of 10 years hurts. She explained to 7 On Your Side, "It's so painful and I've had to uproot my life in a month."

A move out sale Follingstad held attracted a steady stream of people. Until she finds a place to live, she plans to couch surf and house sit. Beyond that, her future is murky.

"I don't know anymore. I can't afford to live here. A lot of my friends can't afford to live here and it's pretty heartbreaking the way the city's changing," Follingstad said.

The home is registered as a single family home and the landlord believes it's not covered by rent control laws.

Tenants rights attorney Joe Tobener calls this eviction by rent increase. He said, "It's an easy way for landlords to try to get tenants out, to increase the rent."

Tobener plans to file a lawsuit on Follingstad's behalf. He is charging landlord Nadia Llama with wrongful eviction.

"The landlord is intent on moving into Debra's unit and doesn't want to pay the required statutory minimal moving allowance," said Tobener.

Under San Francisco rent control, Llama would have been required to pay Follingstad $5,500 in relocation costs, had she been evicted. But because Follingstad is moving out on her own, Llama doesn't have to pay it.

Court documents signed last Christmas reveal Llama received $7,500 from the family trust to pay attorney fees to evict Follingstad.

Follingstad want to send a message to her landlord: "Realize these are people's homes. Negotiate. Have integrity. Compromise. Come on."

"It just makes me sad, so that's all I can say. I'll miss it, but I don't have a choice," Follingstad said.

7 On Your Side did reached out to Llama's attorney for comment, but we didn't hear back.