Articles Tagged with landlord-tenant law

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:

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.

800px-For-rent-signIn Part II of our post on landlord-tenant legal issues, we answer your questions on security deposits, evictions, and unlawful detainers.

Rent and Security Deposits

A major expense most renters face is paying a rent or security deposit. Landlords can demand deposits equivalent to one to two months’ rent before a tenant moves in. In California, a landlord can charge the equivalent of two months’ rent for a security deposit if the premises are unfurnished, and three months’ rent if they are furnished. Landlords can tack on one-half month’s rent if the tenant has a waterbed. Security deposits cannot be nonrefundable in California.

Bumping_keyYou become a tenant when you agree to pay an amount in rent for access to property for a period of time. Aa a tenant you have rights. Tenant rights and landlord-tenant law as a whole are ever-evolving. Tenant rights may be mandated by federal, state, or local laws that address not only what happens when a tenant fails to pay rent or when a landlord wants to evict a tenant for making too much noise, but also rent control and a tenant’s right to disclosure of defects and to notice in cases of foreclosure.

FAQs

What are My Rights as a Tenant?

800px-For-rent-signFinding rental housing in California is not always an easy task. In some neighborhoods, there may be no rentals available for individuals who need housing but do not have friends or family to call upon and who are unable to qualify for a mortgage. In other neighborhoods, rentals may be available but may be priced so high that individuals and/or families cannot afford them. Another circumstance that can make it difficult to find housing is being placed on a “blacklist” – a privately-created list of those tenants and renters who have had an eviction notice filed against them. Being on this tenant blacklist can (for some) mean the difference between securing that perfect rental and the landlord choosing to rent the unit to another tenant.

Gov. Brown Signs A.B. 2819

This week California Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 2819 into law, thereby granting protections to California renters against being wrongfully placed on tenant blacklists. Under the previous legal scheme, a landlord could file an eviction notice against a tenant under certain circumstances. Once that notice was served, an eviction lawsuit might thereafter be initiated. If the lawsuit was not resolved within 60 days of filing, the tenant’s name would be added to the blacklist automatically. The tenant’s name would remain on the blacklist even if the tenant were to win his or her eviction lawsuit. This could result in the tenant’s credit and ability to rent other housing being negatively impacted for years.