Common Questions

Know Your Rights. Hooshmand Law Group is dedicated to protecting tenants in the Bay Area and empowering tenants with knowledge and strategies to resolve their housing disputes.  We relentlessly pursue compensation for clients who were wrongfully evicted or damaged as a result of negligence by landlords.  Work with our experienced, persevering attorneys to get the maximum result. Every day our attorneys provide recommendations to tenants in San Francisco, Oakland, and other Bay Area cities.  Call us to schedule a phone consultation or submit your questions online through our website and our attorneys will respond via email or phone depending on your preference. I live in an illegal unit. Do I have tenant’s rights? My landlord is trying to evict me from an in-law unit, basement, garage, or illegal apartment. Do I have to move? How do I know if my unit is illegal? I received a 60-Day Notice to vacate because the Owner or Owner’s Relative wants to move into my unit. What happens now? My lease is up. Do I have to move? What is Rent Control? What does having “Just Cause” to evict mean? How do I know if I should pursue a lawsuit and How should I Choose a Law Firm? Common Questions from Tenants: I live in an illegal unit. Do I have tenant’s rights? Yes, you have rights including suing to recover your rent payments.  The law provides that no rent is owed for the rental of an unpermitted illegal in-law unit (Gruzen v. Henry, Carter v. Cohen) though it is important to talk with an attorney regarding these issues. My landlord is trying...

Owner Move-In Evictions San Francisco

A very common type of eviction in San Francisco is one where a tenant is displaced so that an owner or owner’s relative can move into the unit. Under San Francisco Administrative Code Section 37.9(a)(8), subject to certain restrictions, a landlord can evict a tenant to pursue an owner move-in (OMI) eviction only if a) the landlord is going to move into the unit to live, b) if the landlord is living in the building already, or c) if a close relative moves in and lives in the unit. Most importantly, an owner who seeks to recover possession of a unit for an owner or relative to move in must do so in good faith, without ulterior motive, and with honest intent. Unfortunately, however, OMI evictions are frequently abused by landlords who seek to evict tenants from their rent controlled units. Landlord doing an improper OMI eviction generally give tenants warning notices or letters stating that they will be doing an OMI eviction. These notices are often illegal and cause tenants to fear eviction, and often even voluntarily leave the unit. Other landlords take more drastic action by harassing tenants with unauthorized entry into the unit, threats of the owner’s family moving into the unit, or false claims of untimely rental payments. Tenants should not move out pursuant to such letters, threats, or warnings that an OMI eviction is forthcoming. Instead, tenants can fight OMI evictions on bad faith grounds, or for violations of specific requirements and restrictions. First and foremost, other than in very specific circumstances, including if a tenant has lived in the unit for less than...

You Don’t Have To Move If Your Unit Is Rent-Controlled, Even If Your Lease Is Up

If you live in an apartment or rental unit in San Francisco that is covered by the San Francisco Rent Control Ordinance, you may not be evicted by your landlord, even if your written lease with the landlord has expired. Instead, you have the right to continue your tenancy and your landlord may not seek to terminate your tenancy without a “just cause” reason. If you are renting a residential unit that was constructed before June 13, 1979, your unit is likely covered by San Francisco Rent Control. However, there are a few types of buildings that are exempt from Rent Control protection even if they were constructed before June 13, 1979. A few of the most common exemptions are: Dwelling units in non-profit cooperatives own, occupied, and controlled by a majority of the residents; Dwelling units solely owned by a nonprofit public benefit corporation governed by a board of directors, the majority of whom are residents of the dwelling units, and where the corporate bylaws require that rent increases be approved by a majority of the residents; Dwelling units that have been permanently removed from rental housing pursuant to the Ellis Act and Ordinance Section 37.3(d); Commercial spaces where there is incidental and infrequent residential use; Housing accommodations in dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education, a high school, or elementary school. If you do reside in a rent-controlled apartment or rental unit, your landlord may only evict you from your unit in limited circumstances where there is a “just cause” reason for eviction. There are 15 just cause reasons for eviction under the Rent...

Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance

Section 8.22.360 of Measure EE specifies that a landlord can evict a tenant for the following reasons: Failure to pay rent; Breach of lease terms; Failure to sign a lease extension or renewal that contains materially the same terms as the current lease terms; Willful substantial damage to the unit; Disorderly destruction of peace and quiet of other tenants; Use of unit for illegal purpose; Denial of legal access to unit to the landlord, after written notice to cease; Owner seeks in good faith to recover possession of the rental unit for her occupancy as a principal residence, where she has previously occupied the unit as her principal residence and has the right to recover possession for her occupancy as a principal residence under a written rental agreement with the current tenants. Owner seeks in good faith to recover possession for her own use and occupancy as her principal residence, or for the use and occupancy as a principal residence for her spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or grandparent. Necessary substantial repairs, for a three month temporary relocation; or Owner seeks to remove the property from the rental market as an Ellic Act eviction. The program applies to most buildings with two or more unites that have a certificate of occupancy prior to January 1, 1983. All residential rental units in Oakland are covered by the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance with the following exceptions: Rental units in any hospital, skilled nursing facility, or health facility. Rental units in a nonprofit facility that has the primary purpose of providing short term treatment, assistance, or therapy for alcohol, drug,...

‘Hacker Houses’ Short Term Rentals Disruptive to San Francisco Tenants

The concept of “Hacker Houses” or “Hacker Hostels” have become increasingly wide-spread in San Francisco. The owners or hosts of these Hacker Homes claim that their goal is to bring together communities of hackers to work and share ideas with one another under one collaborative roof. In reality, this scheme has created the illegal short-term rentals of individual bunk beds within residential spaces, with as many as five or six beds crammed into one dorm-like room. The average nightly rental rate for each bed can be more than $50.00 and as a result, incentivizes many landlords and tenants to rent out their units on a short-term basis to pocket a higher profit. This has not only created unsafe conditions for the numerous individuals living within these Hacker Houses, but has also caused excessive noise and security concerns for the neighbors residing next to these House Houses. Many of these Hacker Houses will see tens if not hundreds of individuals moving in and out every month, with some staying for a few nights and others, a few weeks. Hacker Houses have also contributed to San Francisco’s growing housing crisis, as an increasing number of residential units are not being utilized or made available for long-term tenants’ use. If you have been affected by a Hacker House or Hacker Hostel, or have information to offer, please contact us at...

Notice of Tenants’ Rights

The California Civil Code, as well as the San Francisco Health Code and Housing Code define landlords’ obligations to make and keep rental homes in habitable condition. Inspectors of the Department of Public Health and Department of Building Inspection are responsible for enforcing the respective Health and Housing Codes. All residential landlords, whether they are private property owners or owners of public housing, are subject to the following codes. Property owners are required to provide: Building free of lead hazard and mold. Safe source of heating systems capable of maintaining temperature of at least 68 F at a point midway between the heat source and farthest wall and at 3 feet above the floor of living, sleeping, cooking and eating areas each day between 5 AM and 11 AM and 3 PM to 10 PM. Effective weatherproofing of windows, exterior walls, and roofs. Housing free of garbage, waste, rats, vermin, and bedbugs. Plumbing and gas facilities in good order. Hot and cold running water. Adequate electrical plugs and phone jacks. Well-maintained stairs, floors, and common areas. Additionally, your landlord cannot evict you without “Just Cause.” If your landlord uses unlawful ways to evict you or retaliates against you because you or your relative assert your rights for a safe and habitable home, your landlord may be subject to liability for any actual damages caused to you, including mental or emotional distress. Your landlord cannot force you to vacate the unit without proper notice and, in some cases, appropriate relocation fees. Retaliation can include unlawful rent increases, attempts to unlawfully evict tenants, and reductions in services. If your landlord seeks...

SF Supervisors, Community, and Hosts Concerned by Absence of Companies who Facilitate Homesharing at Hearing regarding Implementation of “AirBnB” Law

Home-sharing platforms are an active participant in short term rentals in San Francisco.  There is significant debate concerning why they are not participating in the discussion concerning the impact of homesharing on affordable housing.  It became evident on March 4th, 2015 at the San Francisco Budget & Financial Subcommittee that the current AirBnB law has effectively allowed AirBnB and the hosting platforms to continue operating free of any liability. Meanwhile, individual hosts, renters, and city officials bear the cost and burden of regulation. While the city and individual hosts are grappling to understand and comply with the law, AirBnB has not engaged in the discussion.  Furthermore, it appears that Airbnb and the hosting platforms are the only entities that have the necessary data and documentation to provide assistance with compliance with the law. Planning Department Staff, AirBnB allies, and community members alike, implored AirBnB to cooperate with all parties to make the AirBnB law more practical.  The hosting platform’s absence from the discussion was a significant factor when determining what information exists that can facilitate the discussion. We at the Hooshmand Law Group have joined community members in encouraging the Board of Supervisors to include enforcement mechanisms concerning home-sharing platforms in an effort to obtain information necessary for enforcement.  Hooshmand Law Group currently represents San Francisco tenants in two class action lawsuits against hosting platforms AirBnB and VRBO/Homeaway, concerning damages incurred as a result of these businesses. For more information contact Mark Hooshmand, Tyson Redenbarger or Idin Kashefipour at (415)...

Is Your Unit Illegal?

If you live in an in-law unit, a garage or basement unit, or a unit otherwise attached to a single family home, you may be living in an illegal unit. To determine if your unit is illegal, look for these characteristics: — No separate electricity and gas bill: If you are sharing your electricity or gas bill with the main unit, the unit may not be separately metered. If you share your electricity or gas bill, or if your landlord is paying the utilities, your unit may be illegal. — No separate heat: If you are sharing your heat bill with the main unit, your unit may be  illegal. — No secondary egress: If your unit does not have a secondary egress (a second door or window to use in case of a fire), your unit may be illegal. If your unit’s second door leads to a garage or to a stairwell to the main unit, your unit may be illegal. — Low ceilings: Ceiling lower than 7’6″. — Your unit was built without permits. — There is no separate Certificate of Occupancy for your unit. These units cannot legally be rented since they have no permit of occupancy. However, even if your unit is illegal, you are still protected under the Rent Ordinance, unless your unit is exempt for another reason. You have eviction protections and cannot be evicted without “Just Cause.” Here at Hooshmand Law Group, we have a strong track record for defending tenants who have lived in illegal units. Contact us today to schedule your consultation at...

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...

Illegal Short-Term Rental Conversions in San Francisco

Gamache et al. v. Airbnb Inc. (filed) Plaintiffs v. Vbro.com and homeaway.com (pending) Plaintiffs v. Flipkey.com (pending) Background and Information San Francisco lawyers filed the first ever lawsuit against Airbnb on behalf of tenants who have been damaged by the illegal conversion of residential housing. In the suit against Airbnb, Plaintiffs are tenants of a single residency hotel which has been converted from affordable housing into an unpermitted and unregulated tourist hotel. The Owners of the hotel use these websites to make a huge profit off the rentals. However, Hooshmand Law Group is preparing to file similar suits on behalf of tenants and apartment owners affected by these websites short term rentals. The conversion of residential units into tourist or transient hotels has significantly contributed to the housing shortage in San Francisco. It is estimated that currently there are more than 6,000 residential properties currently rented in San Francisco for illegal short-term rental. The conversion of residential units in apartment buildings and neighborhoods has had an adverse impact on the other people who live in those apartment buildings and neighborhoods. Guests staying in the short-term rentals create significant additional amounts of foot traffic and security problems due to this increased foot traffic, and the extent of additional customers who are only staying for short stays can be noisy, inconsiderate, destructive, violent, and even dangerous to the people in the surrounding apartments and neighborhoods. The conversion of residential units into short-term rentals, used primarily by tourists, has removed rent controlled apartments from use and caused residential rents in San Francisco to rise as thousands of residential units are no longer...