Being harassed in your own home is simply wrong. It violates the basic concepts of privacy and security that a home should represent. And when the harassment comes from your landlord, it can be difficult to know what steps you can or should take to protect yourself. Our firm is dedicated to helping tenants better understand their rights, so they can respond quickly and confidently to stop tenant harassment.
Tenant harassment can take many forms, but most involve threats and actions designed to force tenants to move out of their homes. Bay Area tenants, especially those with valuable rent-controlled apartments, have reported numerous incidents of landlord harassment which are intended to make them leave so the rent can be increased. While there are laws that prohibit this conduct, it can be difficult to prove unlawful harassment actually occurred. In fact, many tenants question whether their rights were violated.
Landlords and their agents, including relatives or property managers, may not harass their tenants. While this includes criminal harassment, such as stalking, landlord harassment is actually quite broad and includes making inappropriate comments or demands, unlawful rent increases, and legal threats or violations of the tenant’s rights. Conduct considered harassment under Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.2 and S.F. Ordinance § 37.10B includes:
Unlike traditional harassment, to prove a case for tenant harassment requires showing the act was done in bad faith. This means the landlord must undertake the above actions for an unlawful purpose, such as generally pressuring tenants to move out or accept buyout agreements. Proving subjective bad faith can be difficult, but an experienced tenants’ rights attorney may be able to help.
Unlawful tenant harassment often occurs when owners want to remove rent-controlled tenants to charge higher prices. If your landlord makes unreasonable demands or says something offensive in writing, it is important to keep these documents as proof of bad faith. However, in many instances, a landlord’s harassment may be done verbally or through their actions. In these situations, we strongly recommend memorializing the harassing event in writing. That means following up the incident with a letter or email to your landlord where you detail what occurred. It is critical that you do this closely in time to the event, and that you sign/date it and keep a copy for your records. You might also consider recording your conversations with your landlord – though it is important that you do this openly – that is, with their knowledge. Judges may accept the tenant’s sworn testimony as circumstantial evidence of harassment, but written evidence goes a long way.
Tenants in San Francisco may also prove landlord harassment by showing unlawful rent increases immediately after they rejected buyout offers. Section 37.10(B)(a)(5) states that showing rent increases substantially above comparable market rates within six months of the allegedly harassing conduct can prove that landlord harassment occurred. Unlawfully harassed residents may also be able to support their claim by demanding security footage, setting up lawful security cameras to record the harassment, and obtaining witness testimony from neighbors.
Bay Area tenants subject to landlord harassment might recover compensatory damages, such as the cost of moving expenses and emotional distress, as well as statutory penalties and attorney’s fees. At Wolford Wayne LLP, our experienced tenant rights lawyers might even use evidence of harassment to stop eviction proceedings and reduce unlawfully increased rent. To discuss your harassment claims with our dedicated San Francisco tenant protection team, call (415) 649-6203 or contact us online.
Recovered on behalf of a group of 30 tenants living in an SRO in San Francisco who were living with horrendous conditions in their rent controlled apartments, including rodents, bedbugs, mold, water leaks and harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three families living in a building in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood who were forced to live with substandard conditions for years as a result of their landlord’s negligence, including issues with lack of heat, lack of hot water and cockroach/rat infestations.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a couple living in a rent-controlled home in the outer Sunset neighborhood. Our clients were forced to vacate after the landlord served them with an Owner Move-In Eviction Notice. After the landlords failed to move into the property, our clients filed suit for wrongful eviction.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant in Russian Hill. Tenant was forced to vacate her illegal apartment in retaliation for reporting unlawful rent increases to the San Francisco Rent Board.Read More
Recovered for a single long-term tenant in San Francisco. Our client was forced to move out of his apartment as a result of extreme landlord harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three long-term tenants in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood who were constructively evicted due to noise and nuisance conditions created by their downstairs neighbors, which the owner refused to address.Read More
Recovered on behalf of elderly, disabled tenant who was forced to move out of her rent-controlled San Francisco apartment of 50 years after landlord/owner failed to resolve numerous building code violations that remained outstanding for over a decade.Read More
Recovered on behalf of seven tenants living in a makeshift boarding house in East Palo Alto.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two former San Francisco tenants who were evicted via an Owner Move-In Eviction and owner failed to occupy the unit as her primary place of residence.Read More
Recovered on behalf of an elderly long-term tenant who was forced to vacate her long San Francisco apartment as a result of her landlord’s refusal to address longstanding defective conditions, including lack of heat, mold, rodent infestations, and defective plumbing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant who was forced to vacate his home as a result of ongoing, disruptive construction and the owners’ refusal to provide him with alternative housing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco family that was constructively evicted from their home in the Richmond District as a result of unlawful rent increases, defective conditions and tenant harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a tenant living in an illegal “in-law” unit. In this case, a new owner purchased the building and then demolished our client’s unit without permits while she was displaced for seismic retrofitting.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two long term San Francisco tenants who were fraudulently evicted from their home of over twenty years under the pretext of an owner move-in eviction.Read More
Recovered for tenant who was injured when their stairway railing collapsed at the tenant’s Mission District apartment building.Read More
Recovered in action for a group of tenants forced to vacate their San Francisco apartment house due to severe habitability defects including mold and water leaks.Read More
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For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.