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Our Recent Blogs

What are Landlords Required to Disclose to Tenants?

Before you sign a lease or rental agreement and move into an apartment or house in San Francisco, you have the legal right to know certain things about the building and the space that you are about to inhabit. In fact, landlords are required to disclose a number of things about a property to a tenant before a tenant signs a rental agreement, as well as in the event that the property is sold. (more…)

Understanding the Duties of a Bay Area Landlord

Residential landlords are businesses or individual property owners that rent out houses, condos, or apartments in exchange of money. When a residential landlord in San Francisco, Oakland or Berkeley rents out their property to a tenant, it is essential for the rented space to be habitable, or in other words, fit to live in. During the tenure, the landlord is required to take care of maintenance work and carry out repairs whenever necessary to ensure the rented property remains habitable.

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The Ghost Ship Warehouse Tragedy: Who’s at Fault?

The Ghost Ship warehouse tragedy has captured the attention of the nation as new facts come to light every day. (more…)

New Rent Control Laws Strengthen Tenant’s Rights in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and Mountain View

After the November 8, 2016 election, voters in Oakland, Richmond, and Mountain View have successfully amended or created some form of rent stabilization or eviction protection legislation.

New Oakland Rent Ordinance Amendment

 
Oakland’s Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance and Rent Adjustment Ordinance has been amended by Measure JJ to require landlords to file a petition with the Rent Adjustment Program prior to any rent increases above the Consumer Price Index and has expanded the Just Cause Eviction Protections for buildings built before 1996. The new amendments will go into effect on February 1, 2017. (more…)

Video: Avoid an eviction after a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit

Before filing an unlawful detainer action – commonly known as eviction – in San Francisco, a landlord must issue a three-day notice. If you receive notice to “pay rent or quit” from your landlord, it is crucial to understand your legal options and take action as soon as possible. (more…)

New San Francisco Rent Ordinance Amendment Regulates Tenant Buyouts

The San Francisco Administrative Code (Rent Ordinance) has been amended by adding Section 37.9E to address tenant buyouts. The new section is designed to respond to the housing crisis in San Francisco and provide information to tenants concerning buyouts in their neighborhood, their right to legal counsel, and to require that landlords file buyout agreements with the Rent Board for public disclosure. Pursuant to new Section 37.9E of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, tenants also have 45 days to rescind buyout agreements entered into, and have the right to file civil suits against landlords who fail to provide the required disclosures about tenant’s rights when negotiating a tenant buyout. (more…)

San Francisco Ordinance Regarding Tenant Relocation Payments in Ellis Act Evictions Goes Into Effect

Effective June 1, 2014, a landlord who evicts a tenant with a rent-controlled unit in San Francisco under the Ellis Act will be required to pay the tenant an amount equal to the difference between the tenant’s current rent and the market rental rate for a comparable unit over a two year period. (more…)

San Francisco In-Law Units Can Now be Legal

Ordinance No. 43-14, which provides a process for real property owners to legalize existing in-law units, goes into effect on May 17, 2014. The ordinance applies to existing residential in-law units that were constructed prior to January 1, 2013 without a permit. Generally, the ordinance does not apply if a notice of eviction was served on a tenant after March 13, 2014 pursuant to the no-fault eviction provisions in sections 37.9(a)(8) through 37.9(a)(14) of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance.

To legalize an in-law unit, an owner, or an authorized agent of an owner, must first go through a screening process to determine whether the in-law unit is eligible for legalization. After completion of the screening process, the owner or agent may then apply for the necessary permits to legalize the uni. If a tenant must be temporarily displaced due to work required to legalize an in-law unit, the landlord must provide relocation assistance pursuant to section 37.9C of the Rent Ordinance or California Civil Code § 1947.9, where displacement is for less than 20 days.

Once the screening process is initiated, enforcement of any pending notice of violation issued by the Department of Building Inspection for the in-law unit is temporarily suspended if all violations in the notice would be corrected by legalization of the unit. Additionally, the notice of violation is rescinded if the in-law unit is legalized within one year upon commencement of the screening process.

The legalization of an in-law unit will not affect whether the unit is subject to the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance. Accordingly, if an in-law unit was subject to the Rent Ordinance prior to legalization, it will remain subject to the Rent Ordinance after legalization. Further, a landlord may not pass the costs of legalization of an in-law unit to tenants via a rent increase.

For years, tenants who resided in unpermitted in-law units were at risk of losing their rent-controlled tenancies under section 37.9(a)(10) of the Rent Ordinance, which allows a landlord to recover possession of unit in order to demolish or permanently remove the rental unit from housing use. Many tenants in in-law units have also been left without administrative recourse for housing code violations, as an inspection by the Department of Building Inspection for habitability issues would often lead to a notice of violation being issued for the unpermitted in-law unit. With the passing of this Ordinance, these tenancies can now be given legal status, eliminating the fear of eviction pursuant to section 37.9(a)(10) and providing tenants with a means to force the landlord to maintain habitable premises. Although legalization of in-law units can only be initiated by owners, owners are incentivized to take advantage of this Ordinance, as they will be able to continue to collect rent for their in-law units without the fear of being forced to demolish them after being cited with a notice of violation from the Department of Building Inspection.