City Attorney David Chiu

City Attorney strengthens compliance with tenant organizing law

San Francisco’s largest landlord conforms tenant rules to Union-at-Home Ordinance

SAN FRANCISCO (May 24, 2023) — City Attorney David Chiu announced today that Veritas Investments has changed its tenant house rules in light of San Francisco’s Union-at-Home Ordinance, following discussions with the City Attorney’s Office. The updated policies remove draconian restrictions on tenant organizing activities at Veritas properties.

City Attorney David Chiu
City Attorney David Chiu

“Tenant organizing can be enormously beneficial in protecting vulnerable tenants from eviction and getting more just policies enacted,” said City Attorney Chiu. “I am happy these recent changes will allow for more tenant organizing at Veritas properties. The Union-at-Home Ordinance is the law in San Francisco, and we want to be sure all landlords treat it as such.”

“The security and sanctity of an individual’s home is essential to a healthy and productive life,” said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who authored the landmark Tenant Right to Organize legislation. “Just as workers have the ability to organize for better wages and working conditions, tenants should have the right to organize for better living conditions, free from arbitrary interference. These restrictions were brazen retaliation by a private equity landlord in response to our legislation. I’m proud of the Veritas Tenants Association and grateful to the City Attorney for asserting their lawful right to organize.”

“It’s extremely important to make sure that major corporate landlords like Veritas respect tenants’ right to organize,” said District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston. “Our City adopted groundbreaking legislation that I proudly co-sponsored to make sure tenants could organize free of harassment and form tenant associations, and Veritas tenants have been at the forefront of these efforts. I appreciate City Attorney Chiu’s attention to protecting these rights and making sure Veritas’ house rules comply with our local laws.”

“Since the Union-At-Home Ordinance has become law, with the help of our tenant advocates, my team have identified additional ways to strengthen this law to protect tenants. That’s why I will be introducing legislation to strengthen the right for tenants and require landlords to communicate and negotiate with tenants in good faith,” said District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan, a cosponsor to Board President Aaron Peskin’s Union-At-Home ordinance. “I also thank City Attorney David Chiu and his office for their ongoing work to further protect tenants’ rights.”

“VTA members are glad to see City Attorney Chiu stand with them against what continues to be an aggressive anti-union campaign by Veritas,” said Veritas Tenants Association member Lenea Maibaum. “While action by the City is good and essential, VTA members continue to urge Veritas to respect its own tenants by coming to the bargaining table in good faith on the issues we’ve raised.”

In 2022, the Board of Supervisors passed the Union-at-Home Ordinance, which provides a framework for collective bargaining between landlords and tenant associations, and prohibits landlords from interfering with tenant organizing. Specifically, the ordinance states landlords cannot prohibit tenants from using common spaces for tenant organizing, and any restrictions on the time, place, or manner of organizing must be reasonable and not substantially interfere with organizing activities.

Shortly after the ordinance went into effect, Veritas Investments, the largest residential landlord in San Francisco, issued updated “house rules” to tenants that appeared to violate the Union-at-Home Ordinance. Among other things, the rules unnecessarily restricted how and when literature could be distributed and threatened eviction if tenants did not comply.

After discussions with the City Attorney’s Office, Veritas Investments and its property management company, GreenTree Property Management, have issued new rules that:

  • Remove categorical prohibitions on literature or postings placed in common areas.
  • Remove unreasonable time and frequency restrictions on literature distribution and door-to-door surveys and allow guests to distribute literature.
  • Add a carveout to the prohibition on posting signs.
  • Exempt tenant association meetings and other organizing activities protected by the Ordinance from a policy requiring advance written approval for events in common areas.
  • Remove language in the house rules that threatened “Failure to comply with the above rules will constitute a material breach of your lease agreement and may constitute a just cause for eviction.”

Veritas and GreenTree’s updated tenant policies can be found here.