Articles Tagged with landlord/tenant lawyer in San Francisco

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.

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:

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.

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

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:

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.

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.

brandon-griggs-82205-300x200With the current political climate in the U.S., it is becoming more important for states to protect immigrant and minority populations from harassment and discrimination. That is why California Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), along with other California leaders, announced AB 291, known as the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act of 2017. This bill, if made into law, would offer protections for immigrants from landlords who would have the power to disclose the tenant’s legal immigration status to the authorities. Under the law, landlords would not have the right to disclose this information for any reason or threaten to do so.

Why Legislators Feel AB 291 is Necessary

Current law bars landlords from asking about a tenant’s immigration status. There are also laws to protect tenants from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by their landlords. However, these statutes do not stop landlords from assuming a person’s status based on his or her race, country of origin, religion, spoken language, or more. Legislators realize in the current climate, questionable landlords could use a person’s undocumented immigration status as leverage against the tenant. Immigrants are particularly at risk for intimidation and retaliation based on their legal status. Landlords may use or threaten to use this information to get tenants to vacate the premises or pay more rent. That is why a bill specifically addressing this issue has been introduced.

jilbert-ebrahimi-33575-300x200There are certain circumstances under which if your landlord will not fix a problem in your rental unit, you have the right to take control of the situation, pay for the repair, and deduct the cost from your next month’s rent. However, this is only an option in limited circumstances and you must follow the law to do this “repair and deduct” process correctly. If you take a misstep, you could end up with problems with your landlord and not being able to deduct the amount. If you have serious issue in your apartment that needs repairs and your landlord is not responding, contact a San Francisco tenant rights attorney from Brod Law firm at (800) 427-7020 to learn about your options.

When is Repair and Deduct an Option?

Repair and deduct may be an option if an issue within your apartment makes it uninhabitable. This includes but is not limited to: