RESOURCES & NEWS
Devon Thorsby, “What You Need to Know About Tenant Rights in California,” US News & World Report, January 30, 2019. This article includes some helpful information for tenants who are facing problems with their landlords and who want to assert their tenant rights. Tenants in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and other areas in California with rent control should know that they have more rights than those mentioned in this article. Because evictions, rent control, eviction control and the laws providing for tenant rights in individual cities are complicated and often changing, tenants who have questions about their rights should contact knowledgeable tenant attorneys to help navigate this area.
Austin Walsh, “South City Eyes Renter Protections,” The Daily Journal, January 14, 2019. Despite failing to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act in last year’s election, the movement to increase tenant protections to strengthen housing affordability and stability is still strong. Many localities across the state are considering adding tenant protections where none or very few existed before, as this article discusses about South San Francisco. One thing to remember about the proposed tenant protection measures across the state is they are not always focused on preventing bad behavior, but on protecting affordability and housing stability.
Kathleen Pender, “After Lull, Bay Area Rents Are Rising Again, But Not Like Before,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 2019. Unlike in recent years, rental rates in the Bay Area are rising, but not to the same degree. The article also highlights a family who found that obtaining a new rental home was not as difficult as they feared.
Maya Chupkov, “Big Wins for Affordable Housing in the November 2018 Election,” San Francisco Examiner, November 11, 2018. While Prop. 10 failed at the statewide level, this past election was far from negative for tenants. Many local measures passed that will give tenants greater protections.
Elijah Chiland, “UC Berkeley Report Defends Rent Control in California Cities,” Curbed Los Angeles, September 19, 2018. A new policy paper from the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business argues for the benefits of rent control. Of particular note is the paper’s examination of construction rates in California. Countering the argument that rent control stifles new housing, the researchers found that new construction in rent controlled areas in California outpaced new building in areas without rent control.
Melody Gutierrez, "Brown Signs Bill Giving California Tenants More Time to Fight Evictions," San Francisco Chronicle, September 5, 2018. Before the governor signed this new law, tenants only had three days to pay rent after receiving a three day notice of nonpayment of rent and five days to respond to an eviction lawsuit once it was served on the tenant. Under the old system, these time periods included weekends and holidays, unless the last day in the period fell on a weekend or holiday. The new law gives tenants three court days to respond to a nonpayment of rent notice and five court days to respond to an eviction lawsuit. A court day excludes weekends and holidays.
Adam Brinklow, "Mayor Breed Demands More In-Law Apartments," CurbedSF, August 31, 2018. The mayor ordered city departments to work to remove a backlog of approvals for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) throughout the city.
Ali Tadayon, "Berkeley Residents to Vote on New Rent Control Exemptions," East Bay Times, August 11, 2018. As the possibility that the anti-tenant Costa-Hawkins Act could be repealed by voters in November, cities are considering ways to help give greater protections to tenants. Berkeley will have a measure on the ballot to put more buildings under rent control by moving the date by which housing can be exempt from rent control as new construction. Currently, the new construction exemption applies to any building erected after 1980. The ballot measure would only allow buildings built in the past 20 years to qualify as new construction. However, if the Costa-Hawkins repeal fails, this Berkeley ballot measure will have no effect.
Danielle McLean, "San Francisco Ballot Initiative Would Tax Richest Businesses to Help Homeless," ThinkProgress, August 3, 2018. An initiative that will be on the ballot for San Francisco voters in November would help to combat homeless by providing approximately $300 million toward homeless prevention by taxing revenues of companies in San Francisco making more than $50 million per year.
Ali Tadayon, "Oakland to Vote on Property Tax, Owner Move-In Eviction Measures," East Bay Times, July 25, 2018. Oakland tenants will be able to help close a loophole in the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance that allows landlords to evict a tenant living in a two- or three-unit building for any reason, so long as the landlord lives in one of the units in the same building. Closing this loophole would help to protect tenants living in smaller buildings by requiring landlords to have a just cause to evict.
Joan Ling and Doug Smith, "Eviction Crisis in California Requires Legal Remedy," San Francisco Chronicle, July 20, 2018. This opinion piece was written jointly by a UCLA lecturer and an attorney. Support efforts to repeal the anti-tenant Costa-Hawkins Act and vote for Prop. 10 in November.
Patrick Sisson, "Rent Control and Tenants' Rights Set to Be Larger Political Issues in 2018 Elections," Curbed, July 11, 2018. There is growing momentum for tenant's rights not only across California but also in cities around the nation. However, tenants and voters are going to need to fight hard and keep a strong pace going into the November elections to succeed against powerful real estate and developer interests.
Joe Garofoli, "California Rent Control Ballot Measure Wins Backing from Democratic Party," San Francisco Chronicle, July 17, 2018. The California Democratic Party endorsed the ballot measure to repeal the anti-tenant Costa-Hawkins Act. Voters will be able to gain greater access to rent control in November by passing this ballot measure.
Angela Hart, "Will Stronger Rent Control Spread Across California? Here's What You Need to Know," The Sacramento Bee, June 18, 2018.
Adam Brinklow, "How Many People Are Really Evicted in SF Every Year?," Curbed San Francisco, May 31, 2018. This article asks an important question that is often overlooked in city eviction reporting: how many tenants are really being evicted in San Francisco? While the courts and the S.F. Rent Board publish data on the number of unlawful detainer lawsuits filed and the number of eviction notices filed, respectively, those numbers often hide the true impact of the eviction in San Francisco. Many landlords either do not file eviction notices with the Rent Board or do not file unlawful detainer lawsuits because tenants have already moved out. Also, what we regularly see in our law office are tenants who are harassed out of their homes, without any formal notice or eviction lawsuit. The group Tenants Together published its own estimates of the number of tenants who are evicted each year in San Francisco, which takes into consideration these alternative forms of eviction. It is important to understand and keep in mind these unofficial, yet no less devastating, methods of eviction in San Francisco.
Nuala Sawyer, "Rent Control Loophole Closed," SF Weekly, May 22, 2018. The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation to close a loophole in the Rent Ordinance which allowed landlords to pass along to their tenants the cost of mortgages and debt service in the form of increased rents beyond the limits allowed under rent control. This article highlights how this loophole was abused by large rental companies in San Francisco which had purchased apartment buildings in lower-income areas and raised rents by significant amounts, sadly leaving many tenants with few options.
Nkechi Ikem, "Voters Should Approve Repeal of the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act," The Bottom Line, May 15, 2018. Another in a line of articles urging voters to repeal the anti-tenant Costa-Hawkins Act and allow individual cities and localities throughout California to decide on their own whether to adopt rent control for their citizens. This article also notes some of the important ways that repealing the Costa-Hawkins Act can help to prevent displacement and drastic neighborhood change in our communities.
Editor, "Assembly Committee Approves Legislation to Stop Arbitrary Eviction in California," Lake County News, May 5, 2018. Legislation to require landlords throughout California to state a "just cause" for eviction passed an Assembly committee. Currently, unless a tenant lives in a rent control jurisdiction like San Francisco, Oakland or Berkeley, he or she can be evicted for virtually any reason. This legislation would extend the "just cause" protections to all tenants statewide.
Brandon Yadegari, "Fight for Rent Control in Cities Clears State Ballot Hurdle," Santa Barbara Independent, May 3, 2018. Groups in favor of repealing the anti-tenant Costa-Hawkins Act gathered over 588,000 signatures toward placing the repeal measure on the ballot for the 2018 election. The repeal effort continues to gather momentum and make progress toward ensuring greater tenant rights throughout California.
Stephen Barton, "Stephen Barton: Why Rent Control is a Good Thing," Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 15, 2018.
Laura Waxmann, "Supervisors Work to Stop SF Landlords from Passing Management Costs on to Tenants," San Francisco Examiner, March 18, 2018.
Tim Redmond, "The Flaws in Stanford's Anti-Rent-Control Study," 48Hills, March 13, 2018. This article highlights some of the problems with a recent study conducted by Stanford academic economists on rent control in San Francisco.
"Eviction Notices Drop in San Francisco with a Notable Exception," SocketSite, March 12, 2018. Each March, the San Francisco Rent Board publishes statistics on eviction notices filed with the Board in the previous year. This year, three categories of reasons for eviction saw increases over the previous year: capital improvements (likely related to city seismic retrofit requirements), Ellis Act (the state law giving landlords the ability to remove all units in a building from the rental market) and failure to allow landlord access. The remaining categories of reasons for eviction saw decreases since the previous year.
Katy Murphy, "Initiative to Repeal California's Rent Control Restrictions Hits Milestone," The Mercury News, February 28, 2018. The state certified 25% of the signatures needed to put repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Act on the ballot for the 2018 election. Costa-Hawkins prevents cities and counties from protecting tenants by adopting rent control for new buildings, among other things.
Jorge Casuso, "Santa Monica State Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Protect Tenants from Ellis Evictions," Santa Monica Lookout, February 20, 2018. This article provides further information about a proposal introduced in the state legislature which would make Ellis evictions more difficult for landlords and protect tenants. The bill would increase the time that a tenant would have to move out under threat of an Ellis eviction to one year. It would also prohibit owners from returning the housing to the rental market in piecemeal fashion.
Melody Gutierrez, "Landlords Would Have to Give a Year's Notice to Evict Under Tenant-Rights Bill," SFGate, February 15, 2018. Three new bills introduced in the Legislature would make significant changes to some long-established landlord/tenant laws and the eviction process in California. Among the proposed changes would be an increase in the notice period for Ellis Act evictions (where the landlord claims he or she is going out of the rental business) from 120-days to one year. Another proposed change would provide statewide "just cause" eviction protections to all tenants in California. That would require a landlord anywhere in California to have one of a list of approved reasons before being able to evict a tenant. Currently, unless a tenant lives in a rent controlled jurisdiction, state law allows a landlord to evict a tenant for any reason or none at all, with only very limited exceptions. The proposals also include some major changes to basic eviction procedures, including an increase in the notice period for non-payment evictions from 3 to 10 days and an increase in the time a tenant has to respond to an unlawful detainer (eviction) action filed in court, from the current 5 days to 14 days.
Darwin BondGraham, "Oakland Approves Tenant Relocation Assistance for Owner Move-Ins and Condo Conversions," East Bay Express, December 19, 2017. Oakland recently approved relocation payments for tenants who receive eviction notices for owner or relative move-in or condo conversion. These payments will range in amount, depending on the size of the unit, from $6,500 to $9,875. San Francisco has similar relocation payment requirements, as well.
Liam Dillon, "Three California Housing Issues to Watch in 2018," Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2018. This article highlights three state-wide housing issues expected in 2018, including the important effort to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act.
Dominic Fracassa, "SF Landlords' Attempts to Pass Some Charges on to Tenants Face Opposition," San Francisco Chronicle, December 11, 2017. Current law permits landlords to petition the Rent Board to pass through some costs of operating and maintaining rental properties to their tenants in the form of rent increases that would ordinarily be unlawful under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. This article tells of plans by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, at the behest of tenants' rights groups, to introduce legislation which would prohibit landlords from passing through to tenants costs associated with debt service and property taxes.
Darwin BondGraham, "Oakland City Council: Tenant Relocation Assistance Delayed, But Moratorium on Rent Control Loophole Passes," East Bay Express, November 29, 2017. The Oakland City Council voted to create a 180-day moratorium on petitions to exempt housing from rent control for substantial rehabilitation in an effort to prevent wrongful evictions and unlimited rent increases.
Ali Tadayon, "Oakland Rent Control Loophole Temporarily Closed," East Bay Times, November 8, 2017. This article highlights a recent vote of the Oakland City Council freezing for six months an exemption that Oakland landlords could use to get around the eviction protection provisions of the city's Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. The exemption, for substantial rehabilitation, allows landlords to increase rents above the limits contained in the Rent Ordinance. By using the exemption to legally increase rent amounts above the controlled rate, landlords can force tenants out who can't pay for a higher rent.
Laura Waxmann, "Tenant Advocates Cautiously Optimistic About Costa Hawkins Repeal," San Francisco Examiner, November 6, 2017. The expected ballot measure to repeal the repugnant Costa Hawkins Act will be gaining more and more attention as we close in on the election. This article gives some real-world examples of the ways landlords use Costa Hawkins to get rid of tenants by drastically increasing rents in certain situations. Particularly with single-family homes, Costa Hawkins gives landlords who want more money an incentive to try to evict their tenants by raising rents. If the current tenants are unable to pay the increased amount, the landlord can simply evict his or her tenants and rent the house at a higher rent to new tenants.
Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, "Tenants Find Stability Under Eviction Protections 2.0," San Francisco Examiner, November 5, 2017. Nuisance and roommate-related evictions are down in San Francisco after increased protections approved by the Board of Supervisors took effect. It's true that laws designed to protect tenants actually work. Unfortunately, other evictions have increased. Landlords tend to find and exploit loopholes to evict tenants when they want them out. A good tenant law firm can help fight back by suing bad landlords for wrongful eviction.
Post Staff, "Potential Statewide Initiative Would Dramatically Expand Rent Control," Oakland Post, October 31, 2017. A coalition of tenants' rights and other groups filed to put an initiative on the California ballot to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act. The Costa-Hawkins Act prohibits local cities and counties from protecting their tenants from unreasonable rent hikes by landlords. It also, with very limited exceptions, exempts single-family houses from rent control, even if such housing would otherwise be covered in places with rent control ordinances. Repealing Costa-Hawkins would go a long way toward protecting tenants from unlimited rent increases.
Jazmine Ulloa, "Landlords Who Threaten Immigrant Tenants with Deportation Can Face Civil Claims in California," Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2017. Governor Brown signed legislation increasing protections for tenants against threats of eviction or harassment by their landlords based on immigration status.
Cynthia Fong, "The Ellis Act Does Not Make Sense," San Francisco Examiner, September 15, 2017. This op-ed looks at the loopholes in the state's Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict tenants to remove the unit from the rental market. Landlords sometimes use the Ellis Act to evict long-term tenants so that they can turn around and sell the building at a huge profit. The author is a tenant organizer with the Housing Rights Committee in San Francisco.
Tony Samara, "The New Tenant Movement for Housing Justice," KCET, September 13, 2017. There's a new and movement for tenants' rights in California growing through the work of immigrant, low-income and LGBTQ communities, as well as people of color and women. The issues affecting tenants in cities across California also affect these communities as gentrification and division increase.
Esme Caramello & Nora Mahlberg, "Combating Tenant Blacklisting Based on Housing Court Records: A Survey of Approaches," Shriver Center, 2017 September Issue. What records become public when a landlord files an eviction lawsuit against a tenant? Unfortunately, often court file becomes public, allowing anyone to learn that a tenant is facing eviction. Such information can be obtained by companies that sell tenants' names to landlords as a means of blacklisting tenants from future housing. This article looks at various approaches in the United States for public access to court records in eviction cases and the ways that those records are or can be made confidential. Currently in San Francisco, court records in eviction actions are generally not available to the public unless the landlord prevails.
Kathleen Pender, "New California Law Aims to Stop Spread of Bedbugs," San Francisco Chronicle, August 26, 2017. State lawmakers passed a new law that will, among other things, require landlords to provide notices to prospective and current tenants about bedbugs, will prohibit landlords from showing or renting units to prospective tenants if those units contain bedbugs and will prohibit landlords from retaliating against tenants for bedbug-related complaints.
Angela Hart, "Rent Control Fights Heating Up In California," The Sacramento Bee, August 2, 2017. The battle for rent control and greater tenant protections is coming to areas across California. As calls for rent control increase and more cities pass tenant-protection legislation, an increasing number of tenants and cities not only see the benefits of rent control, but are taking steps to make it a reality.
Diana Reddy, "The Big Lie About California's Housing Crisis," The Daily Journal (San Mateo), August 1, 2017. This op-ed discusses the main problem with the supply-and-demand argument for building housing simply to build more housing: continued unaffordability. Building alone, without a view toward ensuring that what is built is actually affordable, only perpetuates the housing crisis.
Cynthia Fong, "How Owner Move-In Reform Will Affect SF Tenants And Landlords," San Francisco Examiner, July 23, 2017. More information about the newly passed law providing enhanced tools to combat fraudulent owner move-in evictions.
Bigad Shaban and Michael Bott, "San Francisco Mayor Will Sign New Law Following NBC Bay Area Investigation Into Wrongful Evictions," NBC Bay Area, July 20, 2017. The mayor will sign the newly passed legislation from the Board of Supervisors shoring up protections for tenants against fraudulent owner move-in evictions.
Melody Gutierrez, "California Housing Crisis Spurring Lawmakers Into Action," San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 2017.
Sasha Abramsky, "The California Renters' Revolt," The American Prospect in collaboration with Capital & Main, July 12, 2017. This article discusses some of the organizing and legislative goals of tenants' rights groups across the state, taking particular aim at the Costa-Hawkins Act because of its limitations on the ability of localities to impose rent control.
Carrie Sisto, "Planning Raises Questions Over Hotel's Plan to Convert Rent-Controlled Housing," Hoodline, July 10, 2017.
Seth Hemmelgarn, "SF Supes Pass Eviction Legislation," The Bay Area Reporter, July 6, 2017. Recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation that will help to clamp down on fraudulent owner move-in evictions, one of the types of landlord-tenant cases that Humphreys Joiner Law Group helps tenants with. Among other things, the legislation will require landlords who evict a tenant for an owner move-in to certify that they have moved in by filing a Statement of Occupancy with the Rent Board and to show proof that they actually moved in.
Jennifer Fieber and Terra Graziani, "Almost Half the OMI Evictors Failed to Follow City Rules," 48 Hills, June 25, 2017. Data shows that landlords evicting tenants for owner move-in grounds are failing to file required documentation with the Rent Board.
Breanna Reeves, "San Francisco Welcomes First LGBT Senior Housing," Curbed SF, June 22, 2017.
Nato Green, "A Big Week for Tenants' Rights," San Francisco Examiner, June 11, 2017.
Peter Hegarty, "Protections for Renters Reaffirmed in Alameda," East Bay Times, June 7, 2017.
Jim Emerson, "Berkeley Sees an Increase in 'Owner Move-In' Evictions by Landlords," Berkeleyside, May 25, 2017.
Stefanie Doucette, "Happy Birthday, Harvey Milk! Here's What Could Have Been," The Bold Italic, May 22, 2017. Harvey Milk had drafted legislation at the Board of Supervisors which would have placed a huge financial disincentive to speculative house-flipping ventures.
Dean Preston, "Lessons from Round One of Costa Hawkins Repeal," Beyond Chron, May 16, 2017.
Kathleen Pender, "Lawsuits' End Could Spur Other Cities to Try Rent Control," San Francisco Chronicle, May 8, 2017. The California Apartment Association "suspended" its lawsuits challenging rent control in Mountain View and Richmond, which could lead other cities to adopt rent control measures without fear of further litigation.
J.K. Dineen, "Court Says Landlord Must Pay SF $2.4 Million For Bad Evictions," SF Gate, May 2, 2017.
Bigad Shaban, Michael Bott and Jeremy Carroll, "Investigative Unit Reporting Spurs Government Hearing on Fraudulent Evictions," NBC Bay Area, April 28, 2017. This article highlights a recent hearing by the Board of Supervisors into the dramatic increase in fraudulent owner move-in evictions that have occurred in San Francisco recently. While the District Attorney and City Attorney are not bringing actions in this type of case, Humphreys Joiner Law Group actively sues landlords who abuse the owner move-in process on behalf of San Francisco tenants.
Romona Giwargis, "San Jose City Council Approves Historic New Renter Protections," The Mercury News, April 19, 2017.
Kathleen Pender, "Bay Area Rent Control Movement Continues to Spread," San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 2017.
Devin Katayama, "Pacifica City Council Approves Temporary Rent Control Ordinance," KQED News, April 12, 2017.
Bruce Barton, "Judge: Allow Rent Control in Mountain View," Los Altos Town Crier, April 6, 2017.
Adam Brinklow, "Eviction Notices in San Francisco Down for the First Time Since 2010," Curbed SF, April 5, 2017. Another interesting piece of information to note from this article is the top three reasons for evictions between March 2016 and February 2017 were breach of rental agreement, owner move-in (OMI) and nuisance.
Caleb Pershan, "Supervisors Propose Penalties for Wrongful Owner Move-In Evictions," SFist, April 4, 2017. Two pieces of legislation that are being introduced soon at the Board of Supervisors seek to curtail abuses of the owner move-in eviction process in San Francisco.
Dara Kerr, "Airbnb Yanks 923 Listings in San Francisco," CNET, March 17, 2017.
Andrew Khouri, "With Housing Costs Skyrocketing, Rent Control is on the Docket Again in Sacramento," Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2017. Another story about the important bill in the California state house to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act.
News Producer, "Debating Costa Hawkins: Should We Strengthen or Shrink Rent Control Laws?," KALW, February 27, 2017. KALW invited to their radio program the director of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Program and the director of the Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition to debate the pros and cons of repealing the Costa-Hawkins Act.
Jason Islas, "Santa Monica Lawmaker Introduces Bill to End Statewide Rent Control Limitations," Streetsblog California, February 23, 2017. This bill would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, which would benefit tenants across the state.
Patrick Kennedy, "Reinventing the SRO: A Step in Solving SF's - And Urban America's - Housing Crisis," Beyond Chron, February 21, 2017.
Mark Noack, "Court Dates Set for Measure V Hearing," Mountain View Voice, February 10, 2017 -- Measure V is the newly enacted rent control measure in Mountain View. The California Apartment Association has challenged the measure as unconstitutional.
Bigad Shaban, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal, "Despite Numerous Potentially Wrongful 'Owner Move In' Evictions, San Francisco Fails to Prosecute a Single Landlord Over Past Decade," NBC Bay Area, February 6, 2017 -- Tenants who suspect that their landlords are engaging in a fraudulent or wrongful owner move in eviction should contact an attorney to discuss their rights. Rent control laws offer protections for tenants and landlords who engage in wrongful OMIs can be liable to their former tenants for hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
Steve Lee, "'Immigrant Tenant Protection Act' Announced in San Francisco," LGBT Weekly, February 4, 2017 -- This proposed legislation would prohibit landlords from making threats to report tenants based on their immigration status and would prohibit them from making any disclosures concerning immigration status of their tenants.
Antonio Pacheco, "America's First Transgender Historic District Planned for San Francisco's Tenderloin Neighborhood," The Architect's Newspaper, February 3, 2017 -- An official acknowledgement of the importance that San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood played in the lives and culture of LGBT individuals in the past.
Karina Ioffee, "Battle for Rent Control in Richmond Lands in Court," East Bay Times, February 1, 2017.
North 7th Street Associates v. Constante (2016) -- This opinion, issued on November 16, 2016, holds that a landlord cannot seek possession of an apartment for non-payment of rent if the apartment is illegal, unpermitted or unauthorized.
Rachel Swan, "Oakland Tenants Live With Uncertainty In Tight Market," San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 7, 2017 -- Unfortunately, the cost of housing is continuing to take its toll on Bay Area tenants, despite recent small decreases in rent prices.
Paragon Real Estate SF Bay Area Apartment Market Report