The Fake Eviction Notice Scam

bethany-legg-9248-copy-300x200San Francisco tenants have a lot to worry about. Finding an apartment takes weeks, sometimes months, of searching. Rents have skyrocketed in recent years, and many landlords are using dubious methods to force long-time renters out of their homes in order to raise the rent even more. While some landlords try to take advantage of lawful evictions whenever possible, others utilize illegal means, such as harassment, fraudulent landlord or relative move-ins, and fake eviction notices.

Fake Eviction Notices

In competitive real estate and rental markets like San Francisco, it should come as no surprise that some landlords will try and get tenants to move out of their units without going through a proper and formal eviction process. Landlords often use harassment, making a tenant’s life and home so uncomfortable, it feels best to leave. Other landlords use neglect. They ignore repair requests and let the building or specific unit become less and less habitable until a tenant moves out.

Now, it seems some less upstanding landlords are sending out fake eviction notices to scare tenants into leaving. A fake eviction notice is often an official looking letter mailed to the tenant or left at their door. It may have “eviction notice” written in large red letters across the top, almost yelling at renter to move out or face legal consequences. In legalese it might state a tenant only has a certain number of days to vacate the premises before the landlord takes action against them or changes the locks.

Unfortunately, this bluff can intimidate tenants who do not have the legal knowledge to recognize the same or the resources to fight an eviction into moving out despite their right to stay. It can be particularly scary for renters who are not fluent in English or are living in the U.S. undocumented.

Signs that an Eviction Notice is Fake

An eviction notice must meet certain requirements, otherwise it is improper and not valid. Tenants who receive an eviction notice should not panic and instead, consider the following:

  • Was it in writing? Sometimes landlords will try and have a friendly conversation or send an email in regard to an eviction. The landlord may use the casual tone and method to make it seem like he or she is doing the renter a favor. However, a proper eviction notice must be in writing.
  • Does it provide a reason? If the unit is covered by San Francisco’s rent control laws, then the landlord must have a just cause for the eviction. For apartments not covered by rent control, the eviction must still adhere to the lease and California law. The renter should carefully read the eviction notice to determine if it provides a reason and whether that reason actually applies to the situation, as best they can tell.
  • Was the proper amount of time given? A landlord must give a proper amount of notice for an eviction. It cannot state a person only has a few days or weeks to get out of the apartment. The amount of time a landlord should give a tenant depends on the reason for the eviction, though it is often 30 days or more.
  • Does it have the landlord’s information on it? If you received an eviction notice that does not state your landlord’s business or personal name or contact information on it, it is highly unlikely it is real.
  • Does it reference your name or specific unit? If the eviction notice does not state your name or reference specific unit, then it may be generic and fake.

Contact a Tenants’ Rights Lawyers for Help

If you have received an eviction notice and you are skeptical that it is real or lawful, contact an experienced San Francisco tenants’ rights attorney from Brod Law Firm right away. Not only can a lawyer determine whether the notice is real, he can also figure out whether it is lawful or a violation of your rights. He can then help you determine your next best steps.

Call today at (800) 427-7020 to schedule a free consultation.

(image courtesy of Bethany Legg)