What is the Ellis Act and Am I at Risk of an Ellis Act Eviction?

The Ellis Act is a California law that provides landlords with a legal method removing their properties from the rental market.  It became law in 1985 after the California Supreme Court decision in the case of Nash v. City of Santa Monica, and, because it is a state law, is one of the just causes for eviction in every city in California with eviction control. To evict tenants under the Ellis Act, a landlord must Read More

How Does a Landlord Move-In Eviction Work in San Francisco?

San Francisco rent ordinances permit landlords to evict tenants only when they have “just cause,” meaning that there is a specific and legally valid reason for doing so. Landlord move-in evictions, also known as owner move-in evictions or OMIs, fall into this category. OMIs are intended to enable a property owner to remove tenants from a unit so that they or a family member can occupy it. Under San Francisco Read More

How will San Francisco’s Tenant Right to Counsel Legislation Work in Practice?

When Proposition F was passed in June of 2018, San Francisco became the first city in California and the second in the United States (after New York) to make legal counsel a right for tenants facing eviction. Now, steps are being taken to put it into practice. Although the law is supposed to protect tenants against wrongful evictions, those who are unable to afford an attorney struggle to protect themselves in a Read More


When I am asked what type of work I do, my response is always the same: “I help Bay Area tenants forced out of rent-controlled apartments get back on their feet.” This describes an ideal client for us. I am often asked whether our focus is unlawful detainer (eviction) defense. The short answer is no. An unlawful detainer is a special type of lawsuit where the landlord is always the plaintiff, the tenant is always the Read More

Three Circumstances Where Small Claims Court May Be a Tenant’s Best Option

While it’s not unusual for a dispute to arise between a landlord and tenant, most disagreements can be resolved by an email, phone call, or in person conversation.  In certain extreme cases of egregious landlord conduct, however, a tenant’s only hope for a resolution may be by way of formal legal proceedings. We generally recommend that any tenant on the receiving end of such egregious conduct contact a tenant rights Read More

Which Cities in the Bay Area Have Rent Control, and Why?

If you want to rent a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, you can expect to pay an average of $3,303.00 a month (Learn more here). That’s a big chunk of monthly income for many Bay Area residents and the reason many individuals and families moving to the Bay Area find it impossible to secure affordable housing. And while the price of new rentals in many Bay Area cities is high, the median rent in cities with Read More

What Are Security Deposits and How Can I Get Mine Back?

When you enter a lease for a rental unit, odds are your landlord will ask you for a security deposit.  While a security deposit may be referred to as a “deposit,” “pet deposit,” or “damage deposit,” the law governing its collection, use, and disposition is the same. California’s Security Deposit Law California Civil Code section 1950.5 is the law governing security deposits in California.  A landlord may ask Read More

Why ALL California Tenants Should Vote Yes on Prop 10

Fifteen cities across California have some form of rent control.  But in each of these cities, rent control is limited in scope. In Los Angeles, the program is confined to apartment buildings constructed prior to October 1978.  Similarly, rent control in San Francisco is limited to units in existence as of June 13, 1979--the date the Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance (commonly known as the San Read More

Understanding Loss of Use (Rent Differential) Damages

In the landlord-tenant context, the term “loss of use” refers to one of the most important measures of money damages available to a tenant wrongfully evicted from a rental unit–particularly in a city with rent control (e.g., San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Mountain View, Richmond, East Palo Alto, Emeryville, and Hayward).  “Loss of use” generally refers to a renter’s inability to reside at a unit the Read More

Attention San Francisco Renters! What the Passing of Prop F Means for You

Although this comes as no surprise to most Bay Area residents, San Francisco is the most expensive city for new renters in the United States.1  The opportunity for profits has motivated unscrupulous landlords to engage in all types of nefarious behaviors to displace otherwise law-abiding tenants from coveted rent-controlled apartments.  These behaviors often culminate in the filing of unlawful detainer (eviction) Read More