Articles Posted in Landlord-Tenant

dominik-martin-311-copy-300x199Various forms of marijuana are now legal in California. However, it is still heavily regulated and illegal based on federal law. This creates a great deal of gray area and questions. If you are a tenant, you may wonder how your right to possess, use, and grow cannabis can be affected by your lease. Does your landlord have the right to dictate that there is no marijuana on the premises? Or can you fully enjoy marijuana so long as you are obeying California law?

If you are having trouble with your landlord in relation to your marijuana use or possession, contact our San Francisco tenants’ rights attorneys at Brod Law Firm to learn more about your rights, limitations, and legal options to deal with your current situation.

When is Possessing Marijuana Legal in California?

lili-popper-29464-300x169Whether you are a first-time renter or are suddenly having trouble with your landlord, you need to make sure you have read and fully understand your lease. Your lease dictates most of the terms of your agreement. Some other aspects of your rental situation are dictated by state law. If you are looking to rent a place or feel you are being treated unfairly by your current landlord, then go to your lease first.

Some California lease provisions you must understand include:

  • Security deposit provisions: There could be one or more lease provisions regarding your security deposit. There should be information regarding about the amount, whether it will accrue interest, and when it can be withheld. This is also where state and local law comes in. You should carefully review what the lease says about security deposits and then compare it to your local law. Many city or county ordinances require that your deposit be kept in an interest bearing account and that you receive that interest each year.

antonina-bukowska-142087-copy-300x200Once you rent an apartment, the unit is yours. You are entitled to a great deal of freedom and privacy within your apartment, with only specific limitations and exceptions. For instance, you are entitled to determine who comes in and out of your unit. You control your guests. Meanwhile, your landlord, despite being the unit’s owner, has lost his or her right to the unit. Your landlord cannot come and go from your unit as he or she pleases. However, your landlord may not explain that to you. Many California landlords try and take advantage of a tenant’s lack of knowledge to snoop around or harass tenants and their guests.

When Your Landlord can Enter Your Apartment

For your landlord to be able to come into your apartment, there must either be a valid, lawful reason or you have to give your consent. Your landlord has the right to enter your unit without your permission only if:

joshua-newton-13935-copy-300x200San Francisco is a popular place. People from all of the U.S. and the world flock there for the food, culture, and beautiful views. As a tenant with some extra space in San Francisco, you may consider renting out a bed, couch, or floor space on Airbnb or other similar website. You might figure you will give a traveler a homey and reasonably-priced place to stay while also helping yourself pay your considerable monthly rent. However, as a tenant in San Francisco, your right to rent out space in your unit may be limited. You need to be sure to follow state and local laws to ensure you do not get into trouble with your landlord.

San Francisco’s Airbnb Laws

The City of San Francisco specifically allows short-term rentals. This means that, in general, you may be entitled to rent out extra space on Airbnb or similar sites. However, while it is allowed, it is also regulated. You need to know your rights and responsibilities before hosting your space online.

todd-quackenbush-222-copy-300x183Whether you are a new or experienced renter, you may not be clear on all of California’s laws regarding security deposits. You may have a gut feeling regarding what your landlord can and cannot do in regard to the deposit, but you may not be sure enough to speak up or enforce your rights. Your gut feeling may also not line up with state and local law. If you are a California tenant, be sure you understand your and your landlord’s rights in regard to security deposits.

What is a Security Deposit?

A security deposit is an upfront fee tenants pay to landlords in the case of non-payment or property damage caused by tenants or their guests. It is not rent. Under California law, landlords are entitled to ask for a security deposit upon move in and to use the deposit in the future for:

brandon-griggs-82205-300x200Renting in California can be extremely difficult. There are not enough apartments to go around, which puts landlords in a position of power. They can raise rents, and even when they should not, they can get picky about who they let live in their units. To remain in a position of power and to benefit from the situation as much as possible, some landlords will resort to lying. You should look out for these common lies and understand how to protect your rights.

Lies Your Landlord May Tell You

There are certain fibs a landlord may tell in California, including:

ryan-franco-116991-300x200There are many reasons why your particular rental unit may not have the benefits of rent control. It could be that your local authorities never enacted any type of rent control. Meaning it might not just be your building that is without rent increase limitations, it may be your entire city or county. You may lack rent control because despite your area having rent control, you live in an exempted unit. Many areas, like San Francisco, have rent control for older units but exempt “new construction,” which is any unit granted a residency certificate after a specific date. In San Francisco, that date is June 13, 1979. However, there is another reason you may not have a rent controlled unit. A California law known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act restricts municipalities from creating rent control ordinances on newer buildings.

Your Local Ordinance

While some cities in California chose to enact rent control at one time, many never did. Rent control becomes popular during times of rising rents and limited housing. However, it is not standard across the country by any means. Many cities and counties across the U.S. have never experienced housing shortages. Or when issues arose, they allowed the market to control the outcome instead of attempting to legislate the issue.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-267667-copy-300x200When you move into your apartment, a number of appliances may already be there, like a refrigerator, stove and oven, microwave, dishwasher, air conditioning unit, and washer and dryer. You assume you are responsible for the daily care of these appliances, but what about when they break? Is it up to you to get a broken appliance repaired? If the issue cannot be fixed, who replaces it? In some situations, your landlord should repair or replace an appliance for you. However, this is not always the case.

Does Your Landlord Have to Repair or Replace an Appliance?

The first question is whether the landlord is required to provide that appliance by state law, local ordinance, or the lease. California law does not require landlords to provide appliances. It is unexpected to see an apartment without the basics like a refrigerator and stove. However, renting a unit without them is not unlawful.

ryan-franco-116991-300x200In June, the City of Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board announced its 2017 general adjustment (GA) cap. This year, landlords cannot raise rent for rent controlled units by more than 2%, with a maximum increase of $40. This applies to all maximum allowable rents of $1,975 or higher.

The Rent Control Board sets the yearly GA based on 75% of the annual change in the Consumer Price Index for the greater Los Angeles Area, which was 2.7%. The Board announced the 2% GA back in May, yet the Board voted to implement the $40 cap in July over concern about rising rents.

When Santa Monica’s GA May go into Effect

dawn-armfield-66060-copy-300x225In October of 2016, a fire broke out in a warehouse in Oakland, California. The warehouse, known as Ghost Ship, had been converted into an artist collective and was illegally home to numerous people. At the time of the fire, the warehouse was hosting a concert with about 50 guests. 36 people were killed. Now, two tenants of the warehouse have been arrested and charged with crimes in relation to the fire.

The Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire

Investigators could not determine the exact cause of the fire, which began on the first floor at around 11:20 p.m., however it is speculated that it may have begun with an electrical appliance. Investigators could pinpoint numerous factors that led to the significant number of fatalities. The warehouse did not have smoke detectors or any fire suppression system, like sprinklers. There were only two stairways in the warehouse and neither led to a direct exit out of the building. One of the stairways was built from stacked wooden pallets, which meant it likely began to burn while visitors and residents were attempting to escape. Additionally, because the dwellings within the warehouse were homemade out of random materials and were not organized with straight hallways, it was difficult for visitors to navigate the warehouse and find an exit.