Articles Posted in Landlord-Tenant


todd-quackenbush-222-copy-300x183If you rent your home in the San Francisco area, you most likely are aware of San Francisco’s Rent Control Ordinance. Even if you currently rent or you are thinking of coming to the area and renting, there are many specifics of the ordinance you may not know about. Consider the following when looking for a new place to live or if you feel like your current landlord is not following the law.


What Does the Ordinance do?


The San Francisco Rent Ordinance provides a number of protections to tenants who rent or lease a dwelling. First and perhaps foremost, the law regulates the amount that rent can be increased annually for specific dwellings in specific situations. To this end, the law also allows only a certain amount of capital improvement costs to be passed on to the tenant by the landlord. It also allows the tenant to petition the Rent Board for a decrease in rent if the landlord has failed to provide services that have been agreed upon or that are required by law. This includes if the landlord has not maintained the premises in a habitable manner or if unit has uncorrected housing code violations. Secondly, the law regulates the circumstances under which a tenant may be evicted.

josh-wilburne-501947-unsplash-copy-300x200San Francisco’s Rent Control Ordinance gives tenants certain rights when it comes to eviction. It either prohibits eviction in certain cases or, in others, allows the tenant to recover relocation costs from the landlord. It also created The Rent Control Board to help prevent tenant abuse by landlords. One of the areas of law that the ordinance covers, which is frequently abused by landlords, is called “just cause” evictions.

Rent Control Ordinance

The  San Francisco Rent Control Ordinance regulates how and when landlords can increase rents and pass on their costs to their tenants. It also regulates tenant evictions. It provides restrictions on when landlords may evict tenants.

yoann-siloine-532510-unsplash-copy-200x300The California Department of Public Health has previously declared that childhood lead exposure poses the greatest environmental health threat to children in the state. As such, both federal and California law provide protections to ensure that exposure to lead is minimized.  Children are especially sensitive to lead exposure, and California has long been considered a leader in trying to eliminate lead exposure in children.

How are Children Exposed to Lead?

Since 1978, lead has been banned in paint in the U.S. However, especially in a city like San Francisco that has a tremendous amount of older housing stock, decades of lead-based paint still exists in many buildings. Over time, paint breaks down and is worn away. This results in dust and paint chips being released into the environment. As every parent knows, small children will put anything in their mouths, including paint chips. Furthermore, lead was a constituent ingredient in many plumbing products. When it degrades, it can enter the water supply, thereby serving as another method of introduction into the bodies of children. Finally, lead can accumulate in the dirt on the grounds of a dwelling as it sloughs off exterior painted surfaces.  The dirt can then get ingested directly or brought into the house and incidentally ingested.

jared-erondu-8130-copy-300x200California law guarantees tenants habitable conditions when they rent or lease from a landlord.  It is possible, due to the conditions of the rented unit, that a tenant will determine he or she simply can not live there anymore and vacate the unit. What rights does the tenant have if this occurs?

Guarantee of Habitability

California law guarantees that a landlord only rents or leases units that are considered habitable. This simply means that the dwelling is fit for a person to live there. However, the law is quite specific as to what it means for a dwelling to be considered “habitable.” California Civil Code requires that landlords must ensure that certain conditions exist before leasing a unit to a tenant including:

lili-popper-29464-300x169The rights of tenants in San Francisco are protected by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance Act and the Rent Board it created. Generally, the Rent Board controls what landlords can charge, how the eviction process works, and how rentals must be re-marketed if an eviction has occurred in the past. However, there is a state law called the Ellis Act that can negatively impact tenants and bypass many of the rights guaranteed by the Rent Board.

What is the Ellis Act?

The Ellis Act is a California law that was passed in 1985 in response to the California Supreme Court case of Nash v. The City of Santa Monica as a way to allow landlords to evict tenants by essentially “going out of business.” Essentially, the Ellis Act is often practically applied when a landlord wants to withdraw all of the units in a multi-family building from the market either to divest themselves of the property or to turn the building into a condominium. At first blush, the Ellis Act seems to give landlords the right to evict tenants for the owner’s profit, which it certainly does, but it also provides a complex process that landlords must follow before they can withdraw a building from the market.

scott-webb-386701-copy-202x300In California, landlords have a duty to ensure that residences are “fit for human occupancy,” and that any necessary repairs are taken care of. Despite these laws, however, it is not uncommon for tenants to walk into an uninhabitable apartment for which they have already signed the contract and paid. If you find yourself in a situation like this, contact the landlord-tenant attorneys at Willoughby Brod and seek out the help you need to regain habitable living quarters.

What an Uninhabitable Residence Looks Like

Just because something is broken or malfunctioning in your apartment does not mean that it is uninhabitable. However, California law does assign a broad spectrum of responsibilities to landlords when it comes to ensuring that a property is habitable, including the following:

jon-moore-400422-unsplash-copy-300x200Everyone wants the assurance that their home is their safe place, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Sometimes, landlords can be lazy and fail to perform regular toxic mold inspections or remediation, and tenants may not notice until they start to exhibit symptoms. If you believe you are living with toxic mold in your apartment, follow the steps below and contact the toxic mold attorneys at Willoughby Brod to learn more about your rights and options.

California Laws Regarding Toxic Mold

While federal law regulates the disclosure and prevention of lead paint, it makes no mention of toxic mold. California law requires landlords to disclose the presence of toxic mold in a residence building, when the level of mold exceeds a safe level, to tenants but does not provide any rules or guidelines for preventing or clearing out toxic mold.

brandon-griggs-82205-300x200Bed bugs are possibly the worst type of pest to find in your home and cause the most anxiety for residents. Luckily for California residents, as of January 2017, tighter laws are in place to protect tenants from bed bug infestations in their homes. If you are preparing to rent a new apartment in California, make sure you ask the landlord for bed bug disclosures, and if you currently have bed bugs in your home, make sure you familiarize yourself with the following laws so you know what your rights are and how to approach your landlord.

If you are currently looking for an apartment, make sure you familiarize yourself with the following laws:

  • Civil Code §1954.602: A landlord cannot show or rent a unit that he or she knows has a bed bug infestation. If the unit happens to have a bed bug infestation but it is not apparent, and the landlord does not know about it, then the landlord cannot be held responsible for showing a unit with bed bugs. If you have been shown a unit that very clearly has a bed bug infestation, contact our landlord-tenant attorneys immediately so we can help you seek the compensation you deserve for any damages you incurred from being in a bed bug infested apartment.

scott-webb-386701-copy-202x300Everyone likes to believe that his or her home is the safest place, but many people unknowingly live in mold-infested environments that are far from safe. While not all mold poses a threat to your health, toxic mold can result in neurological damage, and at worst, death. If you have been harmed by living in an apartment in San Francisco that is infested with toxic mold, you have the right to sue your landlord for compensation. Contact an experienced toxic mold lawyer today to learn more about your rights and your options for recourse.

What is Toxic Mold?

Toxic mold refers to a specific type of mold that releases mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys, that can pose serious health risk to humans and animals. It is also known as “black mold” or Stachybotrys, after the scientific term for a specific type of toxin released in toxic mold.

antonina-bukowska-142087-copy-300x200Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance

Oakland is a “Just Cause for Eviction” city, which means a landlord cannot evict a tenant unless he or she can prove “just cause” in at least one of 11 ways. The Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance lays out the specific conditions under which landlords are permitted to evict their tenants in Oakland. This ordinance, along with the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program (RAP), is one of the most important housing protections for residents of Oakland as it prevents tenants from losing their homes due to a change in property ownership, inability to raise rent, or other reason unrelated to the tenant’s behavior.

To Whom the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance Applies