Landlord/Tenant FAQ

Q: Why should I fight eviction?

A: Due to the restrictions on rent increases under the Rent Ordinance, many San Francisco tenants pay less than market rent. The cost of a lawyer to oppose an eviction is often inexpensive compared to even a few months of paying market rent. If you are being evicted, you may have options besides moving out and finding a new place where you would pay the current market rate. Landlord-tenant law is complicated and sometimes confusing. Consulting an experienced tenant attorney about your rights will help you make an informed decision as to how you want to handle your pending eviction.

Q: Do I need a lawyer?

A: Although you are not required to have a lawyer, you are usually better off with one. San Francisco tenancy laws are complicated and sometimes confusing. It helps to have an experienced tenant attorney to explain what your rights are and how to protect them. Also, if the landlord has a lawyer, you will be attempting to negotiate with an experienced professional who knows that you are at a disadvantage. It is always a good idea to at least consult a lawyer about your rights. Contact us online or call (415) 523-5591 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.

Q: What is a notice to quit?

A: A notice to quit is a request by a landlord to a tenant to move out by the expiration of the notice. If it is a notice to do something  such as pay rent  or quit, it is a request by the landlord to do that thing or move out by the expiration of the notice. Except for a single lodger living with a landlord, if a tenant does not move out at the expiration of the notice, the landlord MUST go to court, file an unlawful detainer lawsuit and win before he or she can evict the tenant.

Q: What is an unlawful detainer (UD)?

A: An unlawful detainer is a lawsuit brought by a landlord to evict a tenant. The time to reply to an unlawful detainer is five calendar days, including weekends, from when it is served. If you are served with an unlawful detainer, you should consult with an experienced tenants' attorney immediately.

Q: What is the Ellis Act?

A: The Ellis Act is a state law that says that a residential landlord may remove tenants when he or she takes an entire building out of residential rental use. There are strict requirements that the landlord must meet before he or she can evict tenants under the Ellis Act.

Q: What is an owner move-in (OMI)?

A: Owner move-in is another way a landlord may try to evict a residential tenant in San Francisco by claiming he or she wants to move into the tenant's unit. For a valid owner move-in, a landlord has to comply very carefully with the law. The landlord must usually give the tenant at least 60 days' written notice of his or her intent to move in. The notice must also advise what other residential realty the landlord owns. The notice must then be delivered with a sum in excess of $2,250 payment per adult tenant. Other amounts may also be due to the tenants. The landlord must also pay the same sum per adult tenant when the unit is turned over to him or her. There are other requirements and restrictions as well.

Q: What is "repair and deduct?"

A: "Repair and deduct" is a provision of California law that allows tenants, in some circumstances, to make repairs on their own and deduct the cost from their rent. The danger of using repair and deduct is that the landlord may still bring an unlawful detainer lawsuit that the tenant will have to defend. "Repair and deduct" should only be used in consultation with an experienced tenants' rights attorney.

For a consultation with the Law Offices of James Coy Driscoll, call (415) 523-5591 or contact us online. The initial telephone consultation is free of charge.