SAN FRANCISCO — The California First District Court of Appeal recently decided to reverse the San Francisco City and County Superior Court's decision in Danger Panda LLC etc. vs. Nancy Ann Launiu, et al and said "that a minor is not a tenant under the Rent Ordinance provisions that pertain to Ellis Act evictions."

In its decision filed April 4, the appeals court wrote that Danger Panda brought an "unlawful detainer" suit against Launiu, her adult son Donn and Donn's wife, Olga, in April 2015. According to the appeals court decision, Danger Panda accused Launiu, her son and his wife of not leaving "a unit in a building that plaintiff withdrew from residential rental use pursuant the Ellis Act." 

The appeals court explained that Danger Panda gave Launiu, Donn, Olga and David an eviction notice on March 26, 2014 in which Danger Panda told them it planned to no longer offer its building as a residence pursuant to the Ellis Act and the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. According to the appeals court, Danger Panda also paid Launiu, Donn and Olga each $2,632.55 for what it called the first half of the relocation assistance that the ordinance stipulated Danger Panda had to pay.

The appeals court wrote that Danger Panda sent in a letter to the Rent Board that laid out its plan to stop offering some living units for rent, and it sent that letter to Launiu, Donn and Olga as well. The appeals court explained that Launiu wrote an April 4, 2014 letter to Danger Panda to let the company know that she had a right to live at the unit one extra year because she's a senior citizen. 

The appeals court said Danger Panda acknowledged that right in a letter to Launiu and the Rent Board and paid her another $1,755.03, which it said was half of "additional relocation" assistance that Launiu had a right to for being a senior citizen.

The appeals court said in its decision that "the trial court granted defendants" motion to quash the unlawful detainer complaint, finding that plaintiff failed to tender a relocation payment to Donn and Olga‘s minor son David as required by the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance, San Francisco Administrative Code, Chapter 37 (the Rent Ordinance)."

According to the appeals court decision, Launiu, Donn and Olga filed that motion on May 20, 2015, and the trial court ruled in their favor on June 1, 2015

However, the appeals court said that when the case got to the San Francisco City and County Superior Court Appellate Division, that court upheld the trial court's decision, "but then certified the matter for transfer to the court of appeal to" determine if David should receive relocation assistance under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.

The appeals court said the superior court appellate division put in an order to uphold the trial court's decision on July 15, but "clarified that the dispute was not about whether plaintiff paid the correct total amount under the Ellis Act, but rather whether the amount was properly allocated among the tenants." The appeals court said that the superior court appellate division held that the money wasn't properly spread among the recipients because it found David to be a tenant, but the appeals court added that David being a minor didn't stop him from getting relocation assistance and said that if Danger Panda had paid correctly, David, Donn and Olga would have been paid $650 more and Launiu would have gotten less.

The appeals court decided that David is not a tenant under the ordinance and ruled that "he could not have acquired a legally cognizable right to occupy Unit 308A to the exclusion of others." The appeals court said David still legally lived at the unit but "his right to occupy is derivative of the rights of his parents."

Along with deciding that David is not a tenant, the appeals court remanded the case.

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