San Francisco renter wins $400,000 settlement

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco woman was forced out of her home when she was hit with a 400 percent rent increase in 2015. The renter's attorney announced Tuesday that his client had won a $400,000 settlement in her lawsuit alleging an unlawful eviction.

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It's a case that could have major ramifications in a city in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.

It's been a long two-year struggle for Deb Follingstad. "I don't want to think about it anymore," she said.

The settlement in the case while welcome, didn't come easily for Follingstad who just completed treatments for breast cancer. In 2015 she held a moving sale after her rent went up from $2,100 a month to $8,900 a month.

"I don't know anymore. I can't afford to live here," Follingstad told 7 on Your Side. "A lot of my friends can't afford to live here and it's pretty heartbreaking the way the city's changing."

After Follingstad moved out, she couch surfed with friends and hose sat before eventually finding a three bedroom apartment in San Francisco, which she shares with two others.

She declined to disclose her rent, but says it's significantly less than $8,900 a month.

Follingstad is happy, but knows others in San Francisco are desperate to find an affordable place to live. "I've been watching a tremendous amount of greed in this town, and not every landlord is bad, but some of them are."

Her attorney, Joe Tobener told 7 on Your Side that landlord Nadia Llama moved into Follingstad's old apartment.

We saw one man, who identified himself as Llama's boyfriend, and a young woman who said she was Llama's daughter, walk inside.

Both said Llama would have nothing to say to us. Her attorney Paul Sheng told 7 on Your Side via email that the settlement includes no acknowledgement of any liability or wrongdoing, but the associate director of tenants together says this case is similar to many others.

"It's probably one of the worst cases that we've eever seen," said Aimee Inglis of Tennants Together. "But unfortunately it's really common to see rent gouging through the state."

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Follingstead says she is trying to remain optimistic for the future. "Hopefully things will improve, and humanity will improve."
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