Articles Tagged with landlord-tenant law

sabri-tuzcu-213760-copy-300x200Based on a 2016 survey, the American Pet Products Association estimates that 6% of American households have a pet. Most of these individuals own cats and dogs. However, other common household pets includes fish, reptiles, and other small animals like rabbits and birds. When these individuals or families own their own homes, the only factor in deciding on a pet is personal preference. However, for renters, pet ownership can be much more complicated and expensive. Some landlords may welcome pets with open arms while others charge various fees. If you are a renter in California and you own pets, you should get to know the law regarding so called “pet deposits,” “pet fees,” and “pet rent” before you sign a lease.

Can Landlords Charge Extra for Pets?

Yes, landlords have the power to charge extra for pets. However, the way in which they can do so is regulated by California law. They cannot charge pet deposits and additional pet rent however they like. If you are required to pay extra money up front to have a pet in your rental unit, then this money is regulated the same way as your typical security deposit.

joshua-newton-13935-copy-300x200Apartment buildings or rental houses and condos are typically investment properties for the landlords. As with any investment, there may come a time when it is better for the landlord to sell than to hold on to it. This means that one day, you may receive a letter notifying you that your building or home has been sold and you have a new landlord. This poses a number of questions, one of the most common being: What happens when someone buys your apartment?

Tenant Rights When the Rental Property is Sold

The most important thing to know when your apartment building, single-family house, or condo is sold is that the new owner is legally required to honor your lease. If you have a typically one-year lease, you have the right to carry it out and continue living there. The new landlord cannot evict you simply because of the change of ownership.

deonny-rantetandung-115900-copy-300x200This summer, landlords in Greenbrae, California, settled a complaint brought by a female tenant with a disability and the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (FHANC) based on disability discrimination. The female tenant, Stacey Kitchin and FHANC alleged Shultz Investment Co. and Greenbrae Management, Inc. discriminated against the resident due to her medical condition and service animal when she lived at the Bon Air Apartments. Following an investigation into the allegations of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the landlords settled with Kitchin and FHANC for $72,000.

Leading up to the Complaint and Settlement

Over a 15-year period, Kitchin was forced to endure discriminatory statements and retaliatory actions due to her service animal, including false claims that the small dog was disruptive, had bitten a maintenance worker, and was not a lawful service animal under California law. Despite receiving an approval for her service animal in 2010, she repeatedly received notices of lease violations due to the presence of her dog. In 2014, she then received a three-day Notice to Cure or Quit, requiring her to remove her service animal or leave. Kitchin’s attorney discussed the law with the landlord who rescinded the notice. However, the landlord continued to create and implement discriminatory policies regarding service animals. Eventually, these issues led to the cancellation of Kitchin’s Housing Assistance Program voucher, forcing her to move.

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.

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:

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.

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.