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San Francisco Real Estate Investor Tops 'Dirty Thirty' List Over Ellis Act Evictions

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Elba Borgen is a woman whose name strikes fear in the heart of many San Francisco tenants.  She tops the so-called "Dirty Thirty" list of real estate investors who have used the Ellis Act to evict long-time San Francisco tenants from their homes.

Tenants in a Richmond District apartment building said they received eviction notices soon after Borgen bought their eight-unit building.

Rose Eger and her neighbors are all on fixed incomes and pay an average rent of $800 a month.  "Where could we stay?" asked Eger.

The Richmond building is the latest where Borgen has used the Ellis Act to evict dozens of tenants.

Raquel Fox at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic represents the tenants of 10th Avenue.

"She looks for buildings that have protected status tenants. Low income and senior and disabled tenants," said Fox.

The Ellis Act is the state law which allows landlords to get out of the business. But Fox says Elba Borgen was never in the landlord business.

"She buys it,  then serves the Ellis, evicts…personally I think it's immoral," said Fox.

KPIX 5 tried tracking down Borgen. At her San Francisco office, a fellow realtor said she hadn't been in the office for months.

Then sources gave KPIX 5 information that led to the San Francisco Yacht Club in Tiburon.   But Elba was nowhere to be found.  According her to blog, she's often out sailing.

Attorney Lyssa Paul said evicting people is referred to as the dirty work but someone has to do it as the buildings often provide entry level homeownership.

"if there's a six unit building and it's Ellis-acted, then I have six new first time homebuyers who now have a place to live," she said.

Paul represents people who want to buy vacated rental units like Elba's. They are sold as tenancies-in-common, cheaper than condos but riskier because generally everyone in the building has to share one mortgage.

KPIX 5 caught up with Borgen at a recent court hearing, but she did not want to talk when asked to give her side of the story.

"Because given where we live, nothing would be reported on my side," said Borgen.

Meanwhile, the tenants on 10th Avenue have only a week left to stay in their homes.  May 2nd is the deadline for them to get out or they face eviction.

One tenant said, "She's got no compassion."

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