SF City Attorney Joins Fight Against Landlords That Rented 20 Illegal Units in Laundromat Basement

San Francisco’s city attorney is suing the owner and occupant of a building where he says 20 people were living in squalid, unsafe conditions in the basement of a commercial laundromat. Hooshmand Law Group represents the tenants in a separate lawsuit filed in February. Read more — SF Lawsuit Claims 20 Lived in Laundromat Basement ‘Death Trap’ – NBC Bay Area...

Hooshmand Law Group Files Suit Against Landlord Who Converted Laundromat Basement Into 20-Unit Residential Space

San Francisco Chronicle: …The basement beneath the Clean Wash Center at 4690 Mission St. was known as 5 Persia Ave., an address that doesn’t exist on any map. It was unknown to city building and fire authorities until firefighters, acting on an anonymous tip, inspected the illegally converted storage space one month after the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland killed 36 people at a converted warehouse Dec. 2. Soto and 18 other former tenants, many of whom speak little English, are now suing their former landlord for damages after the city determined it was too hazardous for them to remain there. “No one should be living in this place,” said Idin Kashefipour, their attorney… Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the Fire Department, called the basement a “death trap.” “We determined immediately that there were very egregious fire code violations that were present, that we believed would result in death of occupants if a fire or disaster occurred at that building,” Baxter said. A little more than a month after the inspection, city officials found that none of the code violations had been fixed. They gave the residents 48 hours to leave…The suit contends that the residents’ ouster constituted a no-fault eviction under the city’s rent ordinance. That would entitle those who lived at 5 Persia to thousands of dollars, including reimbursement of the rent they paid to Paredes and money for their “severe emotional distress,” according to the suit. SF Chronicle: Inside the SF Laundromat basement where 2 dozen people...

Judge Rules in Favor of Tenants – Landlord Ordered to Complete Renovations

The Hooshmand Law Group, and attorneys Mark Hooshmand and Tyson Redenbarger, helped the displaced tenants of the Bristol Hotel win a case against the owner for failing to complete renovations in a timely manner. After a three day trial, the San Francisco Superior Court ordered the owner of the Hotel to complete the renovations and return the tenants to their renovated units by August of 2017. The tenants were originally displaced in 2013 for what was claimed to be a three month renovation. However, years later, when work was still incomplete, the tenants filed a lawsuit to enforce their rights to return to Bristol Hotel. The Court’s order is a victory for the tenants who are now entitled to return to their rent controlled units at their prior rent. The Court also ruled that the Bristol Hotel must be properly renovated to code and that the City must approve the work. The Court also approved that a receiver be appointed if the owner failed to complete the renovation. The receiver would have the right to sell the...

City of San Francisco Prevails Against Landlord Anne Kihagi

A recent tentative decision, in favor of the City of San Francisco and tenants, the Court found that landlord Anne Kihagi, and many of her LLCs, were acting in violation of the City’s laws and had wrongfully evicted a number of tenants. Kihagi was found to have illegally forced tenants to leave their apartments though harassment, false owner move in evictions, false relative move in evictions, and other unlawful practices. The Court has tentatively fined Anne Kihagi $2.4 million dollars and issued extensive injunctions curtailing her illegal practices. Information on the case and copies of the Court’s tentative statement of decision can be found...

Hooshmand Law Group Wins Jury Verdict In Favor of Tenants in Fraudulent Relative Move-In Eviction

The Hooshmand Law Group has obtained a judgment in excess of $460,000 for a public school teacher who was wrongfully evicted pursuant to the Owner and Relative Move-In (OMI/RMI) provision of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance (statute below).  After a two-week trial the jury found that the landlords, who had recently purchased the 4-unit building in San Francisco, had acted in bad faith and knowing disregard of the law when they terminated the Plaintiff’s tenancy on the pretext that their brother would be moving into the unit.  The San Francisco Rent Ordinance requires that a landlord or relative for whom a unit is vacated must have a good faith intent to occupy the unit for a period of thirty-six consecutive months.  Often, however, the owner or relative never move in and instead the Landlord rents the unit out at a much higher price. The OMI/RMI provisions of the rent ordinance are among the few “no-fault” bases for evicting a rent controlled tenant, and landlords often abuse these provisions to charge higher rents at current market prices.  Indeed, a recent investigative report by NBC Bay Area found that 1 in 4 evictions under the OMI/RMI law could be fraudulent.  (link below)  While landlords are required to register these evictions with the San Francisco Rent Board, the city does not actively monitor OMI/RMI evictions to ensure the rules are followed.  As a result, many tenants move out and never look back to find out if their former Landlords have complied with their end of the bargain. Tenants evicted under a false OMI/RMI are often displaced from San Francisco entirely, and are...

We Stand With Oakland

Our hearts go out to the victims of the Oakland Ghost Ship fire, their families, and the community. While the housing crisis in the Bay Area is at an all time high, the health and safety of tenants should not be put at risk. We believe that these tragedies can be avoided and urge property owners and landlords to ensure that their units are in compliance with all state and local...

$1,000,000 Total Recovery for Long-Term Tenant Wrongfully Evicted Under a False Owner Move-In

The Hooshmand Law Group recovered $1,000,000 for a tenant who had lived in his unit for more than 40 years before being falsely evicted pursuant to the owner move-in exception under San Francisco Law. The San Francisco law requires that an owner move-in eviction follow certain strict guidelines. The landlord in this case did not follow the guidelines and intended to make a profit on the unit. The owner attempt to conceal the falseness of the eviction; however, the Hooshmand Law Group helped prove the violation and recover significant damages. The recovery compensated the tenant for the loss of a rent controlled unit, damages and emotional...

Hooshmand Law Group Wins Defense Verdict for their Client in Meritless Lawsuit

Senior Associates Stephanie Foster and Jasna Veledar obtained a defense verdict for their client, accused of assault, battery, and elder abuse.  Hooshmand Law Group previously represented the client in a landlord tenant jury trial in which they obtained a successful verdict and damages award against the former landlord in 2013.  The landlord then turned around and brought the civil suit against the client.  HLG continued their representation of the client, past the landlord tenant suit, in order to help the client.   After three days of trial, the jury found in favor of Ms. Foster and Ms. Veledar’s client and concluded that no assault, battery, or elder abuse...

Hooshmand Law Group Oakland Office Opening

We are pleased to announce the opening of a second office location as of June 1, 2015. We are now able to more conveniently offer our services to tenants living in the East Bay from our new location at 505 14th Street, Suite 320, Oakland, CA 94612. We will continue to focus on representing tenants in landlord-tenant matters including negligence, wrongful evictions, fire, housing code violations, and general habitability concerns. We are very passionate about defending and preserving renters’ rights, and we have successfully represented a number of clients in Alameda and San Mateo counties. We look forward to assisting in the resolution of a greater number of landlord-tenant matters in Alameda, San Mateo, and Contra Costa counties. Our goal is to continue to provide clients with high quality legal representation and uniquely tailored personal service. We greatly appreciate your support and business. Please contact our office at (415) 318-5709 if you have any...

New Study Links Airbnb Short Term Rentals To San Francisco Housing Crisis

The City and County of San Francisco released a report on May 14, 2015 that found between 925 and 1,960 housing units in the city are being used for short-term rentals on the website Airbnb. Some San Francisco landlords are allegedly renting out entirely vacant housing units on homeshare websites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and Flipkey. According to the report, in 2013 Airbnb alone has impacted as much as 23% of the rental market citywide. In the Mission, Airbnb impacted 29% of the rental market. The report also shows that landlords are profiting as much as $2,000 more a month by renting vacant housing units as short-term rentals then to long-term tenants. The report also states that neighborhoods with the most evictions also have the most Airbnb listings. While the City is attempting to pass new legislation to properly regulate Airbnb, tenants have alleged that landlords are illegally evicting long-term residents in order to put up those units on websites like Airbnb. We at the Hooshmand Law Group have joined Supervisor David Campos and San Francisco community members in encouraging the Board of Supervisors to oppose the renting of long-term residential housing units as short-term rentals in San Francisco. Hooshmand Law Group currently represents San Francisco tenants in multiple class action lawsuits against short-term rental hosting platforms, such as Airbnb and VRBO/Homeaway, concerning damages incurred as a result of these businesses. Hooshmand Law Group also represents tenants who have been illegally evicted from their homes by landlords looking to rent those homes on Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey, and other similar websites. If you have been affected by Airbnb or are...

Tenant Buyout Agreements Now Regulated With Protections for Tenants

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance has a new section, added on March 7, 2015. Section 37.9E covers the very common tenant buyout agreement, where landlords offer cash buyouts to tenants in exchange for tenants vacating rental units. The ordinance specifies that the main purpose of this Section 37.9E is to increase the fairness of buyout negotiations and agreements. It requires landlords to provide tenants with a statement of their rights and allows tenants to rescind a buyout agreement for up to 45 days after signing the agreement. This reduces the likelihood of landlords pressuring tenants into signing buyout agreements without allowing the tenants sufficient time to consult with a tenants’ rights specialist. The ordinance has a secondary goal of helping the City collect data about buyout agreements. Buyouts are advantageous to landlords because, even if a landlord spends tens of thousands of dollars, the landlord can recoup that cost by retaining ownership and re-renting at market rates or selling the unit. However, the buyout amounts vary wildly and at times are even below minimum relocation benefits, which are required to be paid for all no-fault evictions. As tenant buyouts were unregulated, landlords could use them to circumvent many of the restrictions that apply when a landlord executes a no-fault eviction. In addition, landlords sometimes employ high-pressure tactics and intimidation to induce tenants to sign the agreements. Further, some landlords threaten tenants with eviction if they do not accept the terms of the buyout. Disabled, senior, and catastrophically ill tenants can be particularly vulnerable, and can face greater hurdles in securing new housing. The new law requires that, prior to...

Hooshmand Law Group Among Sponsors of the Public Advocates 44th Anniversary Voices of Conscience Celebration

Hooshmand Law Group is proud to be among the sponsors of the Public Advocates 44th Anniversary, Voices of Conscience Celebration this evening at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing and transit equity. We are excited to support Public Advocates’ efforts of achieving affordable and equitable housing for all. Hooshmand Law Group is a tenants and consumer rights firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information click...

Court Certifies Hooshmand Law Group Class Action

On March 23, 2015, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner certified Plaintiffs’ class action lawsuit against the Marymount Gateway and Summit Apartments in connection with the attempted condo conversion of the Marymount Gateway and Summit Apartments in Pacifica, California. The complaint charges that tenants’ rents were improperly raised and that tenants who moved out were not paid moving expenses. The certified classes are: a) All persons who signed a lease at The Marymount Apartments and whose rent was raised after January 21, 2008, but before March 23, 2015 (the “Raised Rent Class”); and b) All persons who signed a lease at The Marymount Apartments who voluntarily moved out of The Marymount Apartments after December 15, 2008, but before March 23, 2015, and were not paid moving expenses (the “Moving Expense Class”). Hooshmand Law Group was appointed as class counsel and will represent all class members who decide not to opt-out of the class. The Court approved notice can be found here If you believe you qualify to join one or both of classes listed above, please contact Ana Lupascu at (415) 318-5709 or contact...

Mark Hooshmand in the April 2015 Issue of ‘Plaintiff Magazine’ on the Risks of Being a Host in the Sharing-Economy

Plaintiff Magazine: The Risks of Being a Host in the Sharing-Economy The “sharing economy” is in full swing in the San Francisco Bay Area; indeed, in many countries around the world. Due to advances in technology, Web-based and mobile apps give individuals the ability to turn dormant investments like cars and houses into money-generating assets. These platforms and apps allow companies to monetize these assets and for consumers to operate businesses and generate income by sharing everything from rides and cars, to rooms and houses. While there are benefits to creating efficiencies in the marketplace, there are also significant risks and harms. These risks are too often ignored by the major players in the sharing-industry, many of whom appear willing to flaunt the law while embracing the mantra “it is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.” View the full article from Plaintiff Magazine — The Risks of Being a Host in the...

Hooshmand Law Group Wins Important Anti-SLAPP Law Suit Appeal Concerning Landlord Retaliation against Tenant

Attorneys Mark Hooshmand and Tyson Redenbarger of the Hooshmand Law Group successfully argued in the Court of Appeal concerning the reversal of an order of the trial court. In 2012, our client came to the Hooshmand Law Group after being evicted from her apartment. The Hooshmand Law Group filed a complaint against her former landlords, alleging numerous causes of action including retaliation. The landlord filed a special motion to strike the complaint under the “anti-SLAPP” statute (Code of Civil Procedure 425.16) asserting the retaliation claim arose from protected First Amendment activity-namely the eviction. The Superior Court granted the landlord’s motion which had the effect of dismissing the retaliation cause of action. However, Mark Hooshmand and Tyson Redenbarger appealed the decision. In a March 2, 2015 decision the Court reversed the trial court’s order stating the landlords had not carried their burden, the cause of action was not related to protected activity, and the decision would be reversed. The Hooshmand Law Group is proud of this accomplishment and the ability to pursue a claim for damages in this case. This appeal victory evidences Hooshmand Law Group’s commitment to actively and passionately litigating for our clients through every step of the...

Hooshmand Law Group files Lawsuit to Protect Affordable Housing

Short-term residential rental platforms VRBO and HomeAway are in violation of San Francisco’s residential hotel conversion ordinance and unfair competition law, alleges a lawsuit filed Monday by the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and two city tenants. Among other charges, the class-action lawsuit alleges that Austin, TX-based VRBO and its holding company HomeAway are converting residential units into tourist hotels, have removed rent-controlled apartments, caused rents to rise, and “significantly contributed to the housing shortage in San Francisco.” The complaint also alleges that the companies violate the unfair competition law by failing to follow the proper steps to run a business and pose a public nuisance by operating in residential-zoned locations and disrupting longtime tenants. The nonprofit housing committee and tenants Sansanee Saejear and Thomas Wong have filed the lawsuit through Hooshmand Law Group, the same firm that previously sued short-term rental competitor Airbnb, and said they intend to follow suit against similar online services. Click for full article – Housing Rights Committee sues VRBO, HomeAway alleging violations of SF...

Hooshmand Law Group wins Important Anti-Slapp Appeal for Tenant

Hooshmand Law Group wins important Anti-Slapp Law Suit Appeal Concerning Eviction of Protected Rent Control Tenant Attorneys Mark Hooshmand, Ian Hansen and Stephanie Foster of the Hooshmand Law Group successfully argued in the Court of Appeal concerning the reversal of an order of the trial court. In 2012, our client came to the Hooshmand Law Group after being wrongully evicted from her apartment of over 10 years. The Hooshmand Law Group was successful in having the Court set aside the eviction and filed a cross complaint against her former landlords, alleging numerous causes of action including wrongful eviction. The landlord filed a special motion to strike the cross complaint under the “anti-SLAPP” statute (Code of Civil Procedure 425.16) asserting the cross-claims arose from protected First Amendment activity-namely their service of eviction notices and prosecution of this unlawful detainer action. The superior court granted the landlord’s motion which had the effect of dismissing the complaint. However, Mark Hooshmand, Ian Hansen and Stephanie Foster appealed the decision. In a May 21, 2014 unpublished decision the Court reversed the trial court’s order stating “This case falls squarely in the now well developed line of cases concluding wrongful eviction and other claims asserted against a landlord do not “arise from” protected petitioning activity.” The Hooshmand Law Group is proud of this accomplishment and the ability to pursue a claim for damages in this case. We actively and passionately litigate for our clients through every step of the...