City Attorney David Chiu

City Attorney sues Bernal Heights landlord over fire hazards and illegal conversions

Landlord illegally converted units leading to serious fire safety risks

SAN FRANCISCO (June 2, 2023) — City Attorney David Chiu announced today that he has filed a lawsuit against the landlord of four residential buildings in Bernal Heights for unpermitted work, illegally converted units, and significant fire safety issues. The lawsuit was filed against 320 Alemany LLC and its sole manager, Jack Tseng, who has profited off of renting illegal and unsafe units to San Francisco tenants for years.

City Attorney David Chiu
City Attorney David Chiu

“These properties create serious fire hazards,” said City Attorney Chiu. “After dozens of illegal conversions, the landlord has made significant profit from the same tenants he put in harm’s way. We are taking action to ensure the safety issues are corrected and the landlord is held accountable.”

“The violations outlined against the owner in this complaint are alarming and serious,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “The City must do everything in its power to hold this owner accountable for their actions and make right by the tenants in these units. The Board of Supervisors recently passed legislation that I authored to increase the fines and penalties against bad actors like these and I am pleased that they are already being applied in this case. We must continue to make it clear as a City that knowingly flouting our building and fire codes are not tolerated as the cost of doing business for developers and will be fined to the maximum extent of the law.”

The property at 316-328 Alemany Boulevard consists of four neighboring, residential, multi-unit buildings. The owner illegally converted 13 authorized residential units into 32 illegal residential units, resulting in a plethora of building code violations and safety hazards at the property. The City has issued 26 Notices of Violation (NOV) of building, electrical, fire, health, housing, planning, and plumbing codes. The owner has yet to cure any of the NOVs.

Several of the units contain bedrooms with no emergency exits, raising concerns that first responders could not rescue tenants in the event of a fire. The fire hazards are so severe that the Department of Building Inspection issued emergency orders requiring two of the units to be vacated immediately. Additional violations include inaccessible emergency exits, a fire escape not reaching bedroom windows, extensive unpermitted work, and pest infestations.

The lawsuit states that the defendants created a public nuisance and violated state housing law, multiple municipal codes, and California’s Unfair Competition Law. The City Attorney’s lawsuit is seeking penalties, fees, and declaratory and injunctive relief to cure the violations at the property.

The case is City and County of San Francisco and the People of the State of California v. 320 Alemany LLC. and Jack Tseng. The complaint can be found here.