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
An illegal unit is a residential dwelling unit that lacks a “certificate of final completion and occupancy.” For a unit to be approved for residential use it must have a certificate of occupancy, which is issued by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection.
Types of illegal units include “in-law” units or “mother-in-law” apartments. These are typically found on the ground floor level of a single-family home. However, commercial storefronts, and warehouses which have been converted to, or are being used as, residences, are often illegal.
years of experience in representing tenants.
If the City of San Francisco has not approved the unit for residential use then there is no guarantee it meets building code requirements. If it doesn’t meet building code requirements it may be unsafe to live there. Many illegal units lack sufficient safety provisions, including fireproofing, sufficient exits, or stable electrical systems. In other words, your apartment doesn’t have to be noticeably dangerous to be unsafe.
Additionally, the status of your apartment can impact your ability to stay in your home long-term. If you contact the City to complain about a problem in the apartment (lack of heat, mold, mice, etc.), the City will send an inspector out to take a look. If they determine the unit is illegal they will likely issue a Notice of Violation and order your landlord to either legalize or demolish the unit. This can start a domino effect that could put your tenancy at risk so it is important to be aware of the risks and benefits of contacting a city building or health inspector before doing so.
Tenants in these units are often also at greater risk of being bought out, particularly where a building is up for sale or an owner wishes to sell the property in the near future.
Demolition is one of the sixteen “just causes” for eviction under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. However, due to the lack of available housing stock in the city, and landlords abusing this provision, the City has changed its tune on demolition evictions. To undertake a demolition eviction requires a landlord to have already obtained permits to demolish the unit from the Building Department. Those permits are now very difficult to get. City policy is to encourage landlords to legalize illegal units, not demolish them. However, this isn’t always feasible. If your landlord attempts or is able to obtain a permit to demolish the unit, you may still have avenues to protect your home. If you find yourself in this situation contact us immediately to discuss your options.
Landlords in California are prohibited from renting out illegal units or collecting rent. For that reason alone, tenants living in these units (with the landlord’s consent and knowledge) may have grounds for damages.
Our office does not bring lawsuits against landlords where the only wrongdoing is renting out an illegal unit. However, often there are other problems with these units such as harassment or poor living conditions that a landlord refuses to fix. In those circumstances, the legality of the unit can become an additional claim.
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.