Category Archives: Landlord-Tenant

Tenant Buy Out Agreements in San Francsico

Civil Litigation, Landlord-Tenant, San Francisco0 comments

Tenant protection laws are so strong in San Francisco that it is often more expedient for a landlord to pursue a “Tenant Buy Out” rather than trying to evict them.  A Tenant Buy Out is where a landlord pays a tenant a set amount of money to leave the unit.

For many years these agreements were unregulated and only general contract law applied.  However, as housing became tighter and tighter, more and more landlords started using  in tenant buyouts in San Francisco.  In response, in March of 2015 San Francisco passed the Administrative Code 37.9E.  37.9E requires landlords to make very particular disclosures, in writing, to a tenant before they present or negotiate a Buy Out Agreement.

Failure to follow the procedures allows a tenant to void the entire agreement.  Further, a tenant can try to recover attorney fees during such a voiding action.  So, landlords are advised to be extremely careful when trying to effectuate a buyout.

The attorneys at Jones & Devoy have experience in meeting all of the requirements for tenant buy-out agreements and can make sure that your interest is well protected.

Can I be Evicted by a Co-owner of my Home?

Civil Litigation, Landlord-Tenant, Real Estate, San Francisco0 comments

Owner's KeysProbably one of the most complicated area of the law occurs when multiple owners of a single piece of real estate get into a dispute over who owns the real estate.  Very often a natural consequence of such a dispute is that one (or all of) the owners will claim that they are the rightful owner and that they alone should be entitled to the property.  This in turn can result in multiple lawsuits being filed: One to evict the other owners as “tenants” and another to settle who actually owns the property.

Legally two such cases can exist side by side, however,  such dual proceedings can however create a host of unique issues.  For example, eviction proceedings have special rules that shorten timelines.  This can have the practical effect of one case rocketing forward while the other stalls under the normal rules of California Civil Procedure.

Additionally, there are many motions that can be made to counteract dual proceedings such as motions to consolidate of enjoin all matters into one action.  Such motions must be made with strict understanding of timing and filings requirements for BOTH proceedings.  If you are concerned about your legal rights regarding property you own the real estate attorneys of Jones & Devoy have experience with dual proceeding and can help you understand the complicated issues that occur around owner evictions.

Are San Francisco Tenant Buyout Agreements Valid?

Landlord-Tenant0 comments

A valid Agreement ...Tenant buyout agreements or contracts in San Francisco are increasing in popularity.  The basics of a buyout agreement are as follows:  the landlord pays the tenant to vacate the property and the tenant receives financial compensation for agreeing to the buyout.  In addition, the tenant usually signs a general release whereby the tenant agrees not to sue the landlord for any violations of what may have occurred during his or her tenancy.

San Francisco landlords enter into these agreements for two reasons:  1)  As part of a negotiated settlement that occurs after a lawsuit has began; or 2) As part of a negotiated settlement entered into before a lawsuit has began.  Tenants enter into these agreements as either a way to break a lease early or in order to avoid eviction.

The amount of compensation received by the tenant for the buyout varies depending on why the buyout was entered into in the first place.  The minimum value will usually be seen as the amount of relocation benefits set forth in the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, which is approximately, $5,300.00 per tenant.  If the landlord is the party initiating the buyout, the landlord will usually offer more than the relocation benefits stated above in order to avoid attorney fees and the costs of litigation.  In some cases, landlords have been known to pay significantly higher then this amount, however, these cases are rare.

The validity of the tenant buyout agreement is also the subject of much debate.  Court decisions and statutes regarding buyout agreements are somewhat conflicting.  However, it is clear that if a tenant initiates the buyout agreement, then it is generally acceptable.  If a landlord initiates the buyout agreement, it is highly recommended that the landlord only relay the offer orally as a form of free speech, and make clear to the tenant that the tenant is not required to vacate.  Instead, the landlord should make the offer such that the landlord is only asking the tenant to consider moving out and that the tenant has every legal right to stay.

San Francisco landlord-tenant buyouts can be complicated.  It is highly recommended that both parties have an attorney to help them in this process.  The San Francisco Landlord-Tenant lawyers of Jones & Devoy are experienced and qualified to help both a landlord and a tenant discuss a tenant buyout agreement.  Contact our San Francisco office today to discuss a San Francisco landlord-tenant buyout agreement.

*More about San Francisco Tenant Buyout Agreements

What To Do When A Tenant Abandons Property

Landlord-Tenant0 comments

Left BehindSan Francisco Bay Area Landlords are often concerned about what to do when a tenant vacates the rental property leaves behind  personal belongings.  Legally, these personal belongings are considered abandoned property.  No matter why the tenant left the rental property, such as an eviction or a voluntary move-out, the landlord cannot simply throw away or give away the personal belongings / abandoned property under most situations.  Before a landlord can take any action with regard to the abandoned property, the landlord must follow certain steps.

First, the landlord must contact the tenant through a written notice, and inform the tenant that the tenant has left abandoned personal property at the rental location.  This notice should describe the items left behind in such a manner that the tenant would be able to recognize the items.  The notice must also state where the abandoned property can be claimed (this is usually the rental location/vacated unit), if the landlord intends to apply a reasonable cost of storage and if so the rate of storage, and the date in which the abandoned property must be claimed by the tenant.

If the landlord has the notice personally delivered then the expiration date must not be less then 15 days after delivery.  If the landlord has the notice sent through mail, then the expiration date must not be less then 18 days after the date of mailing.

If the tenant responds to the notice, then the tenant must comply with the conditions in the notice, and pick up the abandoned property.  At this point, the problem is solved.  However, if the tenant does not respond to the notice, then the landlord must take steps to remove the abandoned personal items.

Before the landlord can remove the abandoned property from the rental unit, the landlord must first determine the total price of the items.  If the total value of the items is less then $700.00 then the landlord may keep, throw away, or give away the items, once the notice has expired.

If the value of all the items is over $700.00 then the landlord must hold a public sale of the items, and sell each item to the highest bidder.  This system is very similar to an auction, and an entire article can be written on just this subject.

To learn more about abandoned property and landlord/tenant issues, contact our office and ask to speak to one of our San Francisco Bay Area Landlord/Tenant Attorneys for a complimentary phone or office consultation.

Do I Get Interest On My Security Deposit

Landlord-Tenant0 comments

DepositAlmost every tenant is required to pay a security deposit to their landlord.  The amount of the security deposit is usually equally to one month’s rent or two month’s rent, and can change if the unit is furnished or unfurnished.  Generally speaking, a security deposit is required by the landlord to pay for any damages or unpaid rent that may occur after the tenant leaves the rental property.

In San Francisco, if the rental property is a rent control property, then the landlord is required to keep the tenants’ security deposit in an interest bearing account.  Any interest that accumulates on the security deposit belongs to the tenant and not the landlord.  Again, if it is a rent control property, the amount of interest is set by the San Francisco Rent Board, and upon vacating the property, the landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list that shows interest on the security deposit and the expenses taken out of the security deposit.

Return of security deposits and interest on security deposits can be somewhat technical and complicated.  Determining the rate and proper deductions on your security deposit may require consulting with the San Francisco Rent Board or a San Francisco Bay Area Landlord/Tenant Attorney.  If you would like to speak to one of our Landlord/Tenant Attorneys, please contact us.

Can I Operate My House as a Bed and Breakfast in San Francisco?

Civil Litigation, Landlord-Tenant, Real Estate, San Francisco, Uncategorized0 comments

B&BAirBnB, VRBO and HomeAway. All of these sites have one thing in common: they let homeowners rent out their home or residence to tourists on a short term basis such as a bed and breakfast or vacation rental. They also, present unique legal problems to San Francisco homeowners or landlords who live in counties that closely regulate their housing markets.

For instance, the city and county of San Francisco closely regulates rent control as well as non-conforming uses of structures.  To this end San Francisco Administrative code 41a.5 makes it “unlawful for any owner to offer an apartment unit for rent for tourist or transient use.”  Further, the fines for using a building unlawfully as Bed and Breakfast or B&B are fairly harsh.  However, depending on the zoning, it is possible for San Francisco land owners to apply for a conditional use permit allowing them to turn their residence into a bed and breakfast.  Unfortunately this process tends to be lengthy, and, can cost over $1,000 for the application alone, thus, a careful weighing of options is always prudent before beginning the filing process.

The bottom line is this: in counties like San Francisco with fairly a complicated administrative code, caution should be your watchword and the best approach when considering alternate uses of property; whether you are leasing a residence as rental property to tenants or using it as the occasional B&B, careful planning and a modest investment in an attorney now can avoid a significant legal problem an attorney fees down the road.  The San Francisco based attorneys at Jones & Devoy LLP have experience regarding residential regulation in counties throughout the bay area and offer free consultations to explore your legal options risk free.

Landlord-Tenant Buy Out Agreements in San Francisco

Landlord-Tenant0 comments

Evictions in San Francisco can be costly and time consuming.  More importantly, there is no guarantee of success for either side.  To avoid the complicated legal system in San Francisco, many landlords and tenants are choosing to voluntarily terminate a lease by a contract known as a Buy-Out Agreement.

A tenant Buy-Out Agreement usually arises after a landlord has approached a tenant about terminating their lease early.   The landlord usually wants to do this in order to sell the property, or move in a relative.  However, San Francisco law does not allow the landlord to simply evict a lawful tenant with a lease agreement.  Instead, the landlord must either wait for the tenant to move, or evict the tenant through a process known as an Unlawful detainer.  In order to avoid this, the landlord will offer the tenant financial compensation in exchange for the tenant to move out.  In other words, the landlord will buy out the remaining terms of the lease, and the tenant will move.

These contracts are completely optional from the point of view of the tenant.  Tenants should be aware that even if a landlord was to successfully evict a tenant in order for a relative to move in, the landlord would have to pay relocation costs to the tenant.  The amount of relocation benefits given to the tenant depends on the age of the tenant, if there are children living on the property, if any tenant is disabled, and how many tenants live on the property.  With this in mind, it is reasonable for a landlord to pay anywhere from $10,000 – $25,000 in relocation benefits as required by San Francisco law.

In addition, for any tenant to move to a new property, they will need to place a security deposit, and possible first and last months rent on the property.  In consideration of this, many tenants will ask for this amount to be included in the Buy-Out Agreement, along with additional compensation due to the inconvenience of moving.

A landlord-tenant Buy-Out Agreement should be in writing, so that there is a clear understanding of the terms.  In addition, landlords often supply have of the financial compensation upon signing the contract, and the other half when the tenant moves.  Finally, it is recommended that any agreement includes a mutual release, so that neither party can bring suit against the other after the move out has occurred.

These agreements can be somewhat complicated, and it is highly recommended that you seek the counsel of an attorney before proceeding with a Tenant Buy Out Agreement.  Contact Jones & Devoy for a free consultation to discuss if a Tenant Buy Out Agreement in the Bay Area is right for your situation.

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    Alexander T. Jones

    Mr. Jones has an extensive background in both general litigation and family law as well as experience in various business and transactional matters…

    Daniel R. Devoy

    Practicing civil litigation with an emphasis on client advocacy, Mr. Devoy is experienced in litigating a wide range of legal matters …

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