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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...

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...

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...

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...

AirBnB Class Action Filed in San Francisco, California

On September 3, 2014, the Hooshmand Law Group filed a class action lawsuit against AirBnB, Inc. The lawsuit is based on the allegation that AirBnB illegally participates in and facilitates the rental of apartments in San Francisco in violation of local and state law. Filed in San Francisco Superior Court, the lawsuit also alleges that the short-term rental of apartments by AirBnB violates several San Francisco ordinances that prohibit the short-term rental of residential housing. The complaint states that AirBnB is encouraging, participating in, and profiting from prohibited activity while it is aware that such rentals in San Francisco are prohibited. According to the suit, AirBnB is partnering with hosts despite being on notice that its business model violates laws that were enacted to protect San Francisco tenancies. The named Plaintiffs in the case are residents of an apartment building in San Francisco. These residents along with the class members have been severely affected by the conversion of the building from long term housing to short-term rentals. Furthermore, the Plaintiffs allege that AirBnB has knowingly contributed to the housing shortage. The complaint provides that AirBnB is liable to any tenant who lives in a residential unit where other units in the building have been rented through AirBnB. This lawsuit includes rentals and class members in apartment buildings throughout San Francisco. It is estimated that there are more than 5,000 AirBnB rentals in San Francisco alone. To receive more information contact Mark Hooshmand, Tyson Redenbarger and Ana Lupascu of the Hooshmand Law Group at (415)...

Tenant-Landlord Contracts Are Key

All too often, contracts are written without careful review or tailoring to the business relationship that the contract is meant to embody. Also, thought is not given to language to address potential disputes that may arise and how they can be resolved in a cost effective manner. The main benefit of memorializing the agreement is that it reduces, but does not eliminate, ambiguity as to the material terms. Once the basic terms have been identified, it is important to think through the life cycle of the relationship to ensure that time frames, implementation and essential procedure is discussed and understood. Questions that are important to discuss with your attorney are whether to agree to alternative dispute resolution, rather than traditional litigation, and also how to ensure that venue for any action would be in a convenient location. Tenant-Landlord Contracts Are Key As a tenant, you want to take extra care to review a landlord’s contract to ensure no issues present themselves later on....

Living in an Illegal Unit in San Francisco

Living in an Illegal Unit in San Francisco Unfortunately, illegal units exist all throughout the Bay Area.  Typically they are units that have been constructed without permits to make more money.  Be careful – they are very dangerous as they are not inspected by the City and are typically not up to code.  If you are currently living in one, or have moved out of an illegal unit, contact Hooshmand Law Group to determine if you are entitled to damages.  In some cases you can recover your rent, attorneys fees, costs and punitive damages. Ensure your landlord follows the...

Tenants: Talk to an Attorney Before Vacating Your Apartment

In a time when rents are skyrocketing, landlords are trying to replace long term rent controlled tenants with new higher paying tenants.  They try threats, intimidation and other tactics including small buy out offers.  Before considering next steps talk with an attorney who can assist you in reviewing your options.  There are many capable attorneys in the Bay Area, including the attorneys at the Hooshmand Law Group, who can assist you.  Thankfully there are very strong protections for tenants’ rights even if you have already vacated as a result of the landlord’s actions.  It is imperative that if you are facing any sort of threat, in receipt of a 3 day notice, or in the midst of a lawsuit that you contact an attorney...

Unscrupulous Landlord No Match for LRIS Panel Attorney Mark Hooshmand

In November 2010 the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) was contacted by a client with a landlord-tenant issue. For three years the client was verbally harassed by the landlord and threatened with eviction without cause. Additionally the landlord failed at various times to provide heat, perform repairs, and he allowed contractors to enter the client’s apartment without prior notice. Despite numerous complaints to the landlord regarding harassment by the non-licensed property managers, the landlord failed to respond in an appropriate manner and violated numerous local and state ordinances. Referred by the San Francisco Rent Board, the client contacted the Lawyer Referral and Information Service and was subsequently referred to panel attorney Mark Hooshmand. Read full...

Before you file that Rent Board Complaint – Think Again!

The Rent Board is a great resource for answering questions related to your tenancy.  The purview of the Rent Board is to provide information regarding your tenancy and to also adjudicate some landlord tenant disputes.  The problem is that if you later file a lawsuit, what was said or done at the Rent Board could damage your case for damages.  We have been through many lawsuits where the landlord argues that the tenants have already been compensated for their damages as a result of a rent reduction and then successfully moves to exclude a lot of key evidence.  The difficulty is that the Rent Board does not address emotional distress damages and the typical rent reduction is minimal with respect to the amount of damages one can recover in a lawsuit.  At a minimum before filing a Rent Board complaint you should talk with the Hooshmand Law Group concerning whether a complaint should be filed and what it should...

Eviction Protections Rile Up Tenants and Landlords

“The public comment bell rang throughout Monday’s Land Use Committee meeting as tenant rights advocates and property owners stated their case for or against expanding just cause protection laws to housing units built after 1979. In his raspy voice, Supervisor John Avalos outlined his reasons for bringing the new measure to the table: the economic crisis and increased foreclosures, and the discrepancy in just cause eviction protections between tenants who live in pre-1979 buildings and those who live in post-1979 buildings.” Click here to read more. Published in MissionLocal magazine, Novebmer 3, 2009....

HLG mentioned in Trade Secrets Blog – September 2008

Verdict in the matter of Radiant Skincare vs. Linda Moore, mentioned at the Trade Secrets Blog Superior Court, San Mateo County, California: Radiant Skincare Clinic v. Linda Moore and Rejuvenate Inc. Radiant Skincare sought damages for lost profits and unjust enrichment, as well as punitive damages. In 2002, plaintiff Radiant Skincare Clinic began providing non-surgical aesthetic services. In 2004, Linda Moore, one of the founding partners, left to start a competing business, Rejuvenate Inc. Radiant Skincare claimed that Moore used its customer list to seek clients for her new business. Radiant Skincare sued Moore and Rejuvenate for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Moore solicited customers from Radiant Skincare’s customer list in violation of a written agreement and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Moore contended that she had a right to contact the customers on the list because she had treated them personally. She also contended that she did not solicit them, but merely told them about her new...

Attorneys Fees are the Exception, Not the Rule

Whether you are suing or being sued, it is important to have a frank discussion with your attorney about the cost of the lawsuit. Even if you are being sued frivolously, there is no guarantee of recovery of your attorneys fees. You have a better shot at recovering costs, but costs are minimal compared to attorneys fees. The American Rule is that each side bears their own fees unless there is a statute or contract that provides for fees to the prevailing party. And even with a statute or contract that provide for fees, many cases are left to the judge’s discretion. There are techniques to increasing the possibility of recovery and it is important you talk with your attorney about those...

San Francisco Bay Area Litigation – Do Discovery!

Clients typically turn over a matter to their lawyers and believe that their lawyers will “handle it”. A few months later an exorbitant bill is received without any actual results. Discovery is the ability to achieve results in a cost-effective manner. Discovery forces your opponent to provide the information that they will rely on at trial. It prevents surprises, enables you to evaluate your claims, their claims, and also make pre-trial motions that may dispose of the case. There are various types of discovery which will be explored further but if your attorney has not performed discovery, it is imperative that you discuss this with...

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