Articles Posted in Landlord - Tenant

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The landlord filed a unlawful detainer action against Nancy, her adult son Donn, and Donn‘s wife Olga, alleging that they refused to vacate a unit in a building that was withdrawn from residential rental use pursuant the Ellis Act. (Gov. Code 7060). The trial court granted a motion to quash the complaint, finding that the landlord failed to tender a relocation payment to Donn and Olga‘s minor son David, as required by section 37.9A(e) of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance. The landlord had paid each of the adults $2,632.55 and had given Nancy another $1,755.03, as payment of the first half of additional relocation payment due to her senior status. The appellate division of the superior court affirmed the trial court‘s order. The court of appeal reversed, holding that a minor displaced by an Ellis Act eviction is not a “tenant” under the Ordinance. The court distinguished between “lawful occupants” and “tenants.” View "Danger Panda, LLC v. Launiu" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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Two trial courts invalidated San Francisco ordinances increasing the relocation assistance payments property owners owe their tenants under the Ellis Act, Gov. Code 7060, finding the ordinances facially preempted by the Act. The Ellis Act prohibits a city or county from “compel[ling] the owner of any residential real property to offer, or to continue to offer, accommodations in the property for rent or lease.” The ordinances, intended to mitigate the impact of evictions on low-income tenants, required the greater of either an inflation-adjusted base relocation payout per tenant of $5,555.21 to $16,665.59 per unit, with an additional payment of $3,703.46 to each elderly or disabled evicted tenant or “the difference between the tenant’s current rent and the prevailing rent for a comparable apartment in San Francisco over a two-year period.” In a consolidated appeal, the court of appeal affirmed, stating that “a locality may not impose additional burdensome requirements upon the exercise of state statutory remedies that undermine the very purpose of the state statute.” View "Coyne v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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Shalizi purchased an apartment building and wanted to move into unit four. Geraghty had been renting unit four for 22 years and was paying $938 a month. Shalizi’s attorney sent a letter informing Geragthy that Shalizi intended to commence an owner move-in eviction (Ellis Act “no fault” eviction), but suggested a voluntary buyout agreement. Shalizi and Geragthy entered into an agreement that promised Geraghty $25,000 and gave him several months to depart. Geraghty released Shalizi from “any and all claims which have or may have arisen from Tenant’s occupancy of the Premises at any time or any and all claims related to the Premises, including, but not limited to, claims for wrongful eviction, non-compliance with or violations of the provisions of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance [SFRRSAO] and Rules and Regulations, . . . [or the] right to reoccupy the Premises.” Geraghty vacated and Shalizi paid. Shalizi began $70,000 in renovations and occupied the unit. Months later, Shalizi lost his job. Months later, Shalizi found new work, but had to relocate. He rented unit four to a new tenant for $3,700 a month. After discovering Shalizi was again renting out unit four, Geraghty sued for violation of the San Francisco rent ordinance, negligence, fraud, and rescission. The trial court granted Shalizi summary judgment. The court of appeal affirmed, finding Geraghty’s waiver valid and enforceable. View "Geraghty v. Shalizi" on Justia Law

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Landlord Beach Break Equities, LLC. (Beach Break) filed an unlawful detainer action against tenant Martin Lowell. The court granted Beach Break's summary judgment motion on the possession issue, and issued a writ of possession (reserving damage issues). Lowell appealed the possession order to the appellate division of the superior court (appellate division). While the appeal was pending, Beach Break evicted Lowell under the authority of the writ of possession. The appellate division reversed the possession order, finding triable issues of fact on the possession issue and remanded for a trial. In so doing, the appellate division expressly ordered that Lowell was entitled to seek restitution for any damages caused by the premature eviction. After the matter was transferred to an unlimited civil department, the trial court ruled Lowell was not entitled to a restitution hearing because he had not filed an affirmative cross-complaint. Over Lowell's objection, Beach Break then dismissed its action and the court entered a final judgment. Lowell appealed. After review, the Court of Appeal determined the trial court erred in denying Lowell's request for a hearing on his restitution claim. Under settled law, Lowell was entitled to a restitution hearing even without filing a cross-complaint. View "Beach Break Equities v. Lowell" on Justia Law

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The Foundation provides performing arts and social justice programs. Presidio Trust granted the Foundation a lease (through 2013) at below-market rates for Building 1158. The Foundation remodeled at a cost of over $300,000. Building 1158 offered a safe drop-off area for children, adequate parking, and exclusive use of the building. The Foundation’s operational revenues increased from $300,000 in 2007 to $464,000 in 2010. In 2009, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) began to construct a south access to the Golden Gate Bridge, which required the use of property controlled by Presidio Trust. The Trust agreed to deliver specified property—including Building 1158. Caltrans informed the Foundation it would demolish Building 1158. The Foundation began to search for another location; no comparable space was immediately found. The Foundation cancelled its 2010 summer program and its Annual Benefit. It lost students, donors, staff, and partners. The Foundation vacated Building 1158 in 2011. Caltrans paid $107,000 as just compensation for the Foundation‘s lost improvements. Weeks after vacating, the Foundation leased space in Building 386, which costs more, offers less functional space, lacks a safe drop-off zone, has less parking, lacks evening public transportation, shares restrooms with a business, and is an historical building that limits configuration of space. The Foundation sought compensation for loss of goodwill. Caltrans denied the claim and sought declaratory relief. The trial court found that, although the Foundation demonstrated it had goodwill before the taking and lost goodwill due to the taking, it did not prove a calculated “quantitative” loss. The court of appeal reversed, finding that an expert‘s quantification based on a change in cash flow was sufficient for the threshold determination of entitlement to compensation. View "Department of Transportation v. Presidio Performing Arts Foundation" on Justia Law

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Contreras sued her landlords (Butterworth) and the Butterworths’ former attorneys based on their allegedly illegal entries into Contreras’s apartment. After attorney Dowling began representing the Butterworths, Contreras named him as a defendant. The trial court denied Dowling’s special motion to strike, ruling that Contreras’s action did not arise out of protected activity because she sought to hold him liable not for his activities as an attorney, but only for the underlying wrongful conduct of the Butterworths. Relying on opinions in the two prior appeals of the case, the court found Contreras had established a probability of prevailing on the merits. Finding Dowling’s motion frivolous, the granted Contreras’s motion for sanctions. The court of appeal reversed. Contreras’s claim against Dowling arises out of protected activity because the only actions Dowling himself is alleged to have taken are communicative acts by an attorney representing clients in litigation. Such acts are protected by Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. Bare allegations of aiding and abetting or conspiracy do not suffice to remove such acts from the statute's protection. Contreras cannot demonstrate a probability of prevailing on the merits because Dowling’s communicative acts are within the scope of the litigation privilege codified in Civil Code section 47(b). View "Contreras v. Dowling" on Justia Law

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In 2011, the Hjelms leased an apartment in a large San Mateo complex from Prometheus. They signed the 24-page lease while still living in another state and without any negotiation. The lease had three one-sided provisions allowing Prometheus to recover attorney fees. Their apartment became infested with bedbugs, and the complex had an ongoing raw sewage problem. Ultimately the Hjelms and their children were forced to leave. The Hjelms sued Prometheus; a jury returned a verdict for them, awarding economic damage to the Hjelms in the amount of $11,652; non-economic damage to Christine Hjelm of $35,000; and non-economic damage to Justin Hjelm of $25,000. The trial court then awarded the Hjelms their attorney fees ($326, 475) based on Civil Code section 1717. The court of appeal affirmed, noting that a one-sided attorney’s fee provision violates Civil Code 1717(a). No challenge to the verdict could succeed and section 1717 does apply. View "Hjelm v. Prometheus Real Estate Grp., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs (landlords), challenged San Francisco Planning Code 317(e)(4) as conflicting with the Ellis Act of 1985, Government Code section 7060, which protects property owners’ right to exit the residential rental business. The ordinance was enacted in 2013 in response to a growing concern by the Board of Supervisors (and others) about the shortage of affordable local housing and rental properties. Under section 317(e)(4), certain residential property owners (those undertaking no-fault evictions) including “Ellis Act evictions” were subject to a 10-year waiting period after withdrawing a rental unit from the market before qualifying to apply for approval to merge the withdrawn unit into one or more other units. The trial court found that the ordinance impermissibly penalized property owners for exercising their rights under the Ellis Act and was facially void on preemption grounds. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that the plaintiffs lacked standing. Section 317(e)(4) is preempted by the Ellis Act to the extent it requires a landlord effectuating a no-fault eviction to wait 10 years before applying for a permit to undertake a residential merger on the property. View "San Francisco Apartment Ass'n v. City & Cnty.. of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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After defendant bought the commercial building housing plaintiffs‘ rug cleaning business, disputes developed. The tenants complained that landlords behavior interfered with their business operations and amounted to a campaign of harassment and retaliation. The tenant obtained a preliminary injunction, enjoining landlord‘s construction activities exceeding a stated decibel level during business hours. Three consumer reviews criticizing tenant’s business subsequently appeared on the Internet site Yelp.com posted from different online aliases. Tenant suspected landlord was responsible and amended the complaint to allege defamation. Landlord successfully moved in limine to exclude the evidence related to the Yelp reviews on hearsay and authenticity grounds. The trial court later granted landlord a directed verdict on the defamation cause of action. A jury found that, although landlord had breached the lease agreement, no damages resulted. The trial court deemed landlord the prevailing party and granted his request for attorney‘s fees. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the exclusion of the Yelp evidence and the resulting disposition of the defamation cause of action was error and it is not clear that the outcome on the contract-based causes of action would have remained unaffected by the presentation of evidence on the alleged defamation. View "Kinda v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

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Boston rented an apartment to defendant under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (LARSO), L.A. Mun. Code, 151.00 et seq., where the rental agreement contained a forfeiture clause and an insurance clause. After 15 years of defendant failing to obtain insurance, Boston gave defendant a three-day notice to perform or quit. Defendant obtained insurance shortly after the three-day period expired. Boston then sued defendant for unlawful detainer. The trial court ruled in favor of Boston and defendant appealed. The court asserted jurisdiction over the matter under California Rules of Court, rule 8.1002, to settle an important question of law: Whether a tenant’s breach of an LARSO rental contract, regardless of the breach’s materiality or impact on the landlord, justifies the landlord forfeiting the agreement and terminating tenancy. The court held that a tenant’s breach must be material to justify forfeiture. In this case, the tenant’s obligation to obtain and pay for insurance protected the tenant’s interest, not the landlord’s; accordingly, the tenant’s failure to obtain a policy could not have harmed the landlord and therefore was not a material breach of the agreement constituting grounds for forfeiture. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment and awarded costs to defendant. View "Boston LLC v. Juarez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant