Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sort of Important to San Francisco Renters

Now, this is something that I have been aware for a while, but that's because in my practice I deal with a lot of landlord tenant cases on the side of the tenants. However, most lay people probably would be confused by this, especially people who rent in San Francisco.

As renters might have noticed from the falling stock market, the upsurge in bank failures, and the rash of foreclosure notices that have been going around for a while, your landlord might be on the verge of losing their property through foreclosure. For people who do not live in rent controlled jurisdictions, this can be a problem. Basically a renter's lease is typically, though not always, subject to being extinguished by the foreclosure. Apparently its so much of a problem that the San Francisco Chronicle let one of its columnists devote some of his time to writing about it for a change.

However, this is not the case in San Francisco, and to my understanding in other areas which require good cause evictions. In San Francisco, a person who rents in a multi-unit building (i.e. at least two units) may only be evicted where good cause exists. The list of good causes reasons includes: failure to pay rent, nuisance, using the property for illegal activity, illegal sublets, as well as owner-move in, and substantial renovations. The full list is contained within San Francisco Administrative Code, section 37.9.

Now, if you are a renter in San Francisco, and you do receive a notice to quit from someone the first thing you should do is get some counseling about what your options are. In San Francisco, the places to go for help include (this is only for people who live in San Francisco):

San Francisco Tenant's Union - (415) 282-6622
San Francisco Rent Board - (415) 252-4602
San Francisco Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service - (415) 989-1616
San Francisco Bar Association VLSP (pro bono referrals based on meeting certain eligibility standards) - (415) 989-1616
San Francisco Eviction Defense Collaborative - they do drop in work and do not typically give advice over the phone. They are located at 995 Market Street #1200, San Francisco, California.
In order to make sure that you don't end up on the wrong end of an unlawful detainer, or even worse abandoning a tenancy based on a bad notice to quit because of a misunderstanding of the law, you need to be proactive. If you get a notice, contact someone who knows landlord tenant law (either on the list above or another attorney). Do not rely on what the landlord's attorney and/or agents tell you. They do not represent you. Sticking your head in the sand will not just make it go away. A rent-controlled tenancy, particularly in these times is a valuable commodity for a renter. Don't lose it by not taking the steps you need to take in order to protect it.

(Disclaimer: this, like any other postings I make on this site, does not constitute a legal relationship, or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This article, like all others on this website, are for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice about specific situations. Readers should consult with a licensed attorney if they need help with legal matters.)

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