Articles Posted in Landlord-Tenant

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.

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.

brandon-griggs-82205-300x200Despite what you might have heard, California does not have a statewide rent control provision. This leaves rent control up to cities or counties. If you live in a unit that is applicable to your local rent control ordinance, then you have a number of additional rights as a tenant compared to another renter in a non-rent controlled unit. Your landlord can only raise your rent a certain amount at a certain interval, and must give you a specific amount of notice regarding the increase. Each of these elements, including how much, will be dictated by your local law. If you believe your unit is rent controlled and your landlord is violating the ordinance, contact a local tenants rights attorney to find out how to protect your rights.

Look up Your Local Law

When you are wondering if your unit is rent controlled, the first question you should ask is whether your city has a rent control ordinance. Some cities do, and some do not. The following cities have some type of rent control ordinance in California:

jared-erondu-8130-copy-300x200On May 15, the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board appointed Marìa Poblet as the replacement commissioner for Katherine Harr, who had to step down. Poblet is a well-known tenants’ rights advocate and recently served as the executive director of Causa Justa: Justice Cause, a housing and immigrant rights organization for the area. Poblet will serve as commissioner until Nov. 20, 2018 and then must run for her seat if she wishes to continue on.

Poblet Brings Additional Tenant Advocacy to Berkeley Board

Poblet spent a significant part of her youth in Los Angeles, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has been a community organizer and human rights leader in the Bay Area for more than a decade. She is a fierce advocate of housing as a human right and through Causa Justa, focuses on helping the black and Latino communities find and retain affordable and safe housing. Prior to helping create Causa Justa in 2010, she was the executive director at St. Peter’s Housing Committee in San Francisco. Additionally, Poblet is known for her stance that technology companies that move into the area and perpetuate rising rents and tenant displacement should work to mitigate these issues. In 2016, she pushed for a San Francisco initiative that would tax tech companies to help pay for affordable housing in the area. She was also awarded the 2016 Levi Strauss Pioneer Award for the work she has done in preventing evictions.

lili-popper-29464-300x169San Francisco rental and housing costs have skyrocketed in recent years. The amount a landlord can get for a small unit has doubled or tripled compared to potential rent prices just a few years ago. This potential financial gain means it is often in the landlord’s best interests to have a long-term tenant move out so that the new rent can be increased a significant percentage – a move that may not be possible with current tenants under rent control laws. This motivation has led landlords across the area to illegally evict tenants. However, lawmakers and prosecutors are cracking down on this type of behavior and at least one notorious landlord has been fined millions of dollars for deceptive and bad faith practices.

San Francisco Landlord Heavily Fined

In a ruling against local landlord Anne Kihagi, Judge Angela Bradstreet stated there was a pattern of bad-faith harassment, retaliation, and fraud against Kihagi’s tenants, San Francisco Gate reported. Kihagi was found to have intentionally ruined her tenant’s ability to quietly enjoy their rental property due a campaign of continual harassment, a reduction in services, and unlawful evictions. She was fined close to $2.4 million for violations of California housing law and ordered to pay all of the city’s court and investigative fees, which are expected to be a couple million dollars.

boris-smokrovic-136175-copy-300x200As a tenant, you have a right to live in an apartment or house that is free from rodents, insects, and other vermin. You are not required to live within an apartment overrun by mice that are eating and dirtying your food or covered in bed bugs that are biting you day and night. Through the implied warranty of habitability and local and state laws, your landlord is required to get rid of infestations within your unit or the common areas of an apartment building. If your landlord does not uphold his or her duty, you may have the right to move out or hold your landlord financially responsible for fixing the problem. However, you should not do anything yourself without understanding your rights and the potential consequences. Speak with a San Francisco tenant rights attorney from Brod Law Firm first.

The Implied Warranty of Habitability

The implied warranty of habitability is an automatic promise you receive as a tenant that the premises you rent are safe and appropriate to live in. This is not a promise you receive in writing with your lease. It is an obligation dictated by law. It gives you the right to a habitable place to live and requires the landlord to keep the unit up to a certain standard.

fre-sonneveld-2073-300x200San Jose took a momentous step forward in April when it passed two regulations to create stricter eviction rules and protect the city’s tenants. The Tenant Protection Ordinance and Ellis Act Ordinance both passed with six votes in favor and five votes against, only narrowly making it through after hours of public comments and council discussion. The new regulations set an important precedent as tenants all over California worry about being evicted so landlords can charge newer tenants more rent.

The Tenant Protection Ordinance

Under the new Tenant Protection Ordinance, landlords must give tenants a “just cause” for the eviction. This includes evicting tenants for not paying rent, breaking one or more provisions within their leases, causing damage to the unit, having unauthorized subtenants, or being a nuisance with their behavior. In fact, the law lays out a dozen different just cause evictions. While landlords state that this places an undue burden on them and makes it difficult to get rid of problem tenants, the law offers landlords sufficient reasons to evict tenants who do not follow the terms of the lease or create problems within the building.

aowellzmpzm-gor-davtyan-225x300In early April, the Board of Supervisors introduced two new pieces of legislations both aimed at making it more difficult for landlords to wrongfully evict tenants. The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Mark Farrell and Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim, was drafted after an NBC Bay Area Investigation found landlords were fraudulently claiming landlord move-ins to evict tenants. It is legal for landlords to evict tenants so that they or one of their family members can move into a unit. However, NBC found there is little oversight to this process and many landlords are lying to get old tenants out and new tenants willing to pay much higher prices in.

The NBC Bay Area Investigation

NBC investigators knocked on doors throughout San Francisco to survey residents in addresses that were listed as having an owner-move-in eviction. They were able to survey residents at more than 100 addresses and found 24 instances in which neither the landlord nor a family member was currently living in the unit. This meant that nearly one in four evictions may have been unlawful.

nitish-meena-198784-copy-300x200In the current political climate, it comes as no surprise to local California attorneys and authorities that landlords are using the threat of deportation against their tenants who are or appear to be immigrants. The exact reasons for the threats vary. Some landlords want to force immigrants to pay higher rents while others want them to move out so the landlord can charge new tenants more. Still other landlords are using threats of calling immigration officials to move racial minorities out of certain neighborhoods for the purpose of gentrification. Whatever the reasons, these threatening tactics violate tenants’ rights.

If you are experiencing threats or harassment from your landlord based on your immigrant or documentation status, contact a San Francisco tenant rights attorney at Brod Law Firm to learn about protecting your rights.

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