Tenant Rights Law

Aggressive Representation for Bay Area Renters

 

Tenant Law Group is a firm dedicated to protecting the rights of tenants in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, which includes the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Napa, and Sonoma. Because our attorneys never represent landlords, we fight aggressively—and exclusively—for tenants.

The Bay Area is home to some of the most sought-after rental properties in the country. San Francisco recently surpassed New York City as the most expensive city for renters in the United States. Numerous cities throughout the Bay Area have implemented rent ordinances—local regulations governing, among other things, the maximum amount of annual rent increases and the legal justifications for evictions. Given the variety and complexity of these laws and regulations, renters whose rights have been violated are frequently unaware of the various remedies at their disposal. If you believe that your rent was illegally increased, that you were displaced from a rent-controlled apartment without legal justification or harassed by your landlord, or that your rights as a renter were otherwise violated, we are here to help. We handle the following types of cases:

 

Recovering Money in Landlord Disputes

Under certain circumstances, tenants may be entitled to money damages for one or more of the following:

  • Loss of use of a rent-controlled unit,
  • Partial or full refund of rent paid,
  • Mandatory relocation payments,
  • Out-of-pocket (e.g., moving or medical) expenses,
  • Damaged and/or destroyed property (e.g., due to water damage),
  • Lost wages,
  • Bodily injury, and
  • Mental and emotional injury (e.g., anxiety, depression, and fear)

Disputes where money damages are recoverable include displacement from an eviction-controlled apartment without good cause (also known as an illegal, wrongful, and/or constructive eviction), severe landlord harassment, failure to remediate uninhabitable such as pest or rodent infestations, and other situations involving egregious or bad faith landlord conduct. All California tenants are entitled to safe, healthy, habitable, and peaceful living environments free from harassment; and many Bay Area tenants are entitled to the benefits of rent control and eviction control. If your tenancy has involved one or more of these scenarios, you may be able to recover money damages.

 

Tenant Rights Counseling

Whether you have an active dispute with your landlord or simply wish to better understand your rights, we are here for you. We offer thirty-minute and one-hour consultations with experienced tenant rights attorneys who can provide advice specific to your situation and work with you to prepare an action plan. We are committed to giving you honest advice to assist you in achieving your desired outcome.

 

Lease Buyouts

With sky-high rents throughout the Bay Area, rent-controlled tenancies are valuable and sometimes a tenant may wish to monetize that value. A buyout is a situation where a landlord pays a tenant to vacate a unit subject to rent control and waive his or her right to legal remedies against the landlord. A buyout benefits a landlord by permitting her or her to offer the unit at a higher market-value rent with the certainty he or she will not be sued. A buyout benefits a tenant by way of financial compensation.

While we frequently fight to preserve a tenant’s rent-controlled apartment, we recognize that for some tenants the value of a buyout payment exceeds the value of continuing to reside in a rent-controlled apartment. We believe buyouts can benefit some tenants so long as the tenant makes that determination with a full understanding of his or her rights. Landlords frequently take advantage of a tenant’s ignorance of the law and their rights. Our goal is to provide tenants whose landlords have approached them about a buyout with a full understanding of what they are giving up and, should they wish to proceed, to recover as much money as possible. If your landlord has expressed a desire to discuss a buyout with you and you would like to learn more about your rights, talk to a tenant rights attorney before making any decisions.

 

Rent Board Hearings

In jurisdictions such as San Francisco, local rent boards render decisions involving landlord petitions for rent increases, substantial rehabilitation exemptions, extensions of time to complete capital improvement work, and tenant occupancy status; and tenant petitions for substantial decrease in housing services, failure to repair and maintain, unlawful rent increase or request for determination of lawful rent, improper passthroughs, failure to discontinue a capital improvement passthrough, proportional rent claim by a subtenant against a master tenant, unlawful initial rent claim by a subtenant, and alleged wrongful evictions.

Among the most common rent board hearings are attempts by landlords to raise rents above the amount permitted under that rent board’s annual rent increase. Showing up to a rent board hearing without legal representation puts a tenant at a significant disadvantage and increases the odds of a landlord prevailing. Our team represents renters throughout the Bay Area at all types of rent board hearings. A final note: regardless of the outcome of a rent board hearing, you may still be able to pursue other legal remedies against your landlord because rent board hearings are not part of the judicial system.

 

Eviction Defense

After the expiration of a notice to quit or a notice of termination of tenancy, a landlord may file an unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit to recover possession of rental unit. Unscrupulous landlords who are hoping to get rid of tenants paying low rent in rent-controlled jurisdictions may file frivolous or meritless unlawful detainer lawsuits in the hope that tenants will give up without a fight and move out because they cannot afford legal counsel. If your landlord has filed an unlawful detainer lawsuit against you, contact a tenant rights attorney immediately, as the deadline for a tenant response is very short. We are here to help.

 

Other Disputes

If you are being mistreated, lied to, or threatened; believe your landlord has violated your rights; or simply need an advocate in dealing with your landlord, we are here to help. Even if monetary damages are not recoverable, we will fight aggressively on your behalf to help you achieve your desired outcome. Regardless of the nature of your dispute, the specter of living in an unsafe environment or losing your home can be devastating.

Contact us to discuss the details of your tenancy, prepare an action plan, and allow us to work with you towards achieving your desired outcome.