SF city attorney sues landlord over Section 8

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sued a landlord and an apartment real estate agent for allegedly refusing to accept federal housing vouchers to subsidize apartment rents.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday, alleges that Lem-Ray Properties and agent Chuck Post are violating a city law by telling prospective tenants that Section 8 vouchers won’t be accepted for certain apartments.

The vouchers, authorized by Section 8 of the Federal Housing Act and provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, subsidize private rentals for low-income people. Qualifying families must pay 30 percent of the rent and the vouchers generally pay the rest.

A 1998 city law makes it illegal for property owners to refuse to accept federal, state or local subsidies to pay rent or to indicate in advertisements that such subsidies would not be accepted.

The lawsuit alleges that Post, acting as Lem-Ray’s agent, and Lem-Ray violated the law by refusing to accept the subsidies for properties owned by the company at 935 Geary Street and 81 Ninth Street for at least one year between May 2013 and May 2014.

The complaint lists 10 examples of advertisements posted on Post’s website, ApartmentsInSF.com, or on Craiglist during that period that stated Section 8 vouchers would not be accepted for Lem-Ray apartments at 935 Geary Street or 91 Ninth Street.

The lawsuit includes claims of violations of the city law, of the state’s unfair business practices law, and a 2006 Superior Court injunction in which Lem-Ray was prohibited from violating any state or local law.

The lawsuit asks for an injunction against Lem-Ray and Post and civil financial penalties.

Post today declined to comment on the lawsuit:

“I haven’t seen the lawsuit, and so I can’t comment at all.”`