Real Estate Litigation
I have told my landlord about a leak in my ceiling several times, but he still hasn't fixed it. The water is leaking on some of my stuff, and mold is growing around the leak. What do I do?
Well, you have some options available and decisions to make. Assuming you have made requests to the landlord to fix the leak, and he has failed to respond (make sure you have the complaints in writing and/or you have contacted the DBI to issue a NOV to the landlord), you can repair the damage yourself and deduct the costs from your rent (can't be more than one month's rent, and not more than twice in a 12 month period). You can file a Reduction in Services Petition with the SF Rent Board seeking a reduction in rent. You can file a suit against the landlord for overpaid rent, property damage and even emotional damages, stress and inconvenience.
My landlord has been threatening to evict me, and then the other day I came home and I was locked out of my unit. What do I do?
Unless the landlord obtained a Writ of Execution after prevailing in an unlawful detainer action against you, you have been wrongfully evicted. Landlords, even outside of San Francisco, are not entitled to use self-help to effect the eviction of a tenant, subtenant or even squatter. The landlord must use the summary unlawful detainer process to effect any eviction.
You likely have a wrongful eviction claim against the landlord in which you can recover money for the loss of your tenancy, emotional damages, relocation costs, attorneys fees and legal costs. You can also recover trebled (triple) damages under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance if the landlord's eviction was knowing.
My landlord refuses to return my security deposit, even though I left my unit in great shape. What can I do?
The landlord can use any portion of the security deposit required to repair damages caused by the tenant or his guests exclusive of normal wear and tear. He has only 21 days after you vacate to return the remainder of the deposit (if any) to you. Also, note that the landlord was required to give you an opportunity for a walk-through inspection to identify needed repairs. If this notice was not provided, you may have further basis for return of your deposit. Our office has been very successful in helping tenants get all or most of their security deposits back by sending a formal demand letter to the landlord. In those rare instances where the deposit is not returned, the tenant is advised to file a small claims action for return of the money.
I repeatedly asked my landlord to fix the stairway in our building, but he never did. Now I have slipped and injured myself on the stairs. Is he responsible?
Yes, assuming your landlord had notice of the defects in the stairs, had reasonable time to repair the defects and failed to do so, he would most likely be considered negligent and therefore responsible for your injury. You could file a claim against your landlord's insurance policy for the defects, your personal injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering and various other remedies. Our office specializes in these landlord-tenant/personal injury fusion cases, as we are experts in both of these areas of the law.