More Bad Behavior from CitiApartments in San Francisco

death%20sign.jpg CitiApartments, owned by the Lembi family, will be facing yet another lawsuit according to KTVU.com. The news site reports that Rory Moore (62) recently died when she fell through a flight of rotting stairs in her apartment building. The three story fall left her with serious kidney damage, which caused her death after weeks in intensive care. Tenants said they previously complained about the state of the stairs. One resident even fell through the stairs before the Moore incident. The resident said that after he complained the landlords responded by bolstering that particular stair only.

Skyline Realty, a real estate company that does business under many names, including CitiApartments has seen a dizzying list of complaints. From news articles like The Scumlords: Neglect and Despair, which appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, to outraged Yelp reviews to lawsuits and complaints to the San Francisco Tenant’s Union the company has been facing bad press for years.

CitiApartments has been involved in at least 56 lawsuits in San Francisco Superior Court since 2003. One of those lawsuits was brought by city attorney Dennis Herrera in 2006 for “unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices” relating to the management of multiple properties in San Francisco. The city’s complaint alleged that CitiApartments was using intimidation tactics to convince residents with rent controlled apartments to move, so the company could upgrade the apartments and raise rent. It also cited violations for blocking entry to home care providers, illegally entering and inspecting apartments, and carrying out construction work that did not meet the Department of Building Inspection’s standards. The city successfully brought the suit to a close in March, 2011 with a settlement that imposed up to 10 million dollars in fines on CitiApartments. The settlement also placed an injunction on CitiApartments from further conducting the unfair business practices named in the complaint. City Attorney Dennis Herrera specifically stated in a press release that CitiApartments must respond to tenants’ request for repairs within 72 hours, which appears to be disputed in the case of Rory Moore.

The Great Recession of 2008 took a heavy toll on CitiApartments forcing it to declare bankruptcy and to give up many of its over-leveraged properties. According to an SF Examiner story, tenants did not complain much of intimidation tactics after the city’s lawsuit, but did complain about electricity and gas shut offs that occurred because CitiApartments had not paid its bills to PG&E, as happened to other property management companies during the recession. Tenants had to pay or negotiate with PG&E themselves or live without light and heat, unsure when service would be restored. In addition, many former tenants have complained that CitiApartments illegally kept their security deposits, citing flimsy reasons to keep the deposits when tenants moved out or simply saying the company was insolvent and could not pay the security deposit.

The bulk of CitiApartments bad press flooded out from 2006 to 2010, but this latest accident brings complaints about CitiApartments unfair business practices and the poor state of many of its properties to the fore once again.

Greg Brod is a personal injury lawyer practicing in San Francisco. Feel free to call the Brod Law Firm for a free consultation about issues of habitability and unfair business practices in your rental unit.