Chun v. Del Cid (2019) – Second District Court of Appeal Interprets LA Municipal Code To Find “Rooming House” No Longer Exempt as “Single Family Home” from Eviction Protections

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In Chun v. Del Cid, a landlord of a single family home in Los Angeles served 60-day termination notices on multiple tenants who were leasing individual bedrooms in a single family home. The Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance generally exempts single family homes from eviction protections, and without LARSO eviction protections, a 60-day notice under state law can often be served at any time, for (almost) any reason.

The tenants defended an unlawful detainer lawsuit on the basis that their use of the property as a “rooming house” took the single family home out of the exemption. The trial court and appellate division disagreed, finding that the property was designed as a single family home: that is, a detached dwelling containing only one dwelling unit – a group of two or more rooms, one of which is a kitchen. The Court of Appeal granted review, evaluating several interlocking definitions under the LA municipal code to reach a different conclusion.
Continue reading Chun v. Del Cid (2019) – Second District Court of Appeal Interprets LA Municipal Code To Find “Rooming House” No Longer Exempt as “Single Family Home” from Eviction Protections

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California Supreme Court Grants Review To Consider Propriety of “Delta Motion” Following Split Decision

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The California Supreme Court has granted review in the case Stancil v. Superior Court (Redwood City), to finally weigh in on the infamous Delta Motion to quash service of summons.

In 1983, the Second District Court of Appeal held that a motion to quash service of summons was an appropriate way to challenge the ability of a complaint for unlawful detainer to state a cause of action. The case was Delta Imports v. Municipal Court (Missimer), which led to the eponymous “Delta Motion”. As the reasoning goes, an unlawful detainer case receives a unique five-day summons (rather than the conventional thirty-day summons). Defendants generally demurrer to a complaint for failure to state a cause of action, but ordinarily, the plaintiff survives general demurrer if the complaint states a cause of action for something, even if they got the label wrong. But if a complaint fails to state a cause of action for unlawful detainer, it can’t be amended to state something else, as the cause of action is created by service of the notice.

That’s all well and good, but a motion to quash challenges jurisdiction, and there are no jurisdictional facts at issue because a plaintiff “failed to state” something, provided the defendant was properly served with a summons. And while courts have some flexibility in ruling on an improperly labeled motion, the difference between a motion to quash and a demurrer is significant. Demurrers essentially test what’s within the four corners of a complaint, but a motion to quash is an evidentiary motion. And motions to quash in unlawful detainer cases can be heard on as little as three days’ notice. So, essentially, these motions became vehicles to have mini trials on the final merits of a case, but before a plaintiff could serve discovery. Then, many tenant practitioners routinely petitioned for writ of mandate, ostensibly to review the denial, but practically as a method of stalling a “summary proceeding” for many months. The doctrine was legally fascinating but it allowed procedural abuse.

In 2015, the Second District revisited its reasoning in the case Borsuk v. Appellate Division, disapproving of the rationale in Delta Imports and opening the rule for interpretation. After all, “A decision of a court of appeal is not binding in the courts of appeal. One district or division may refuse to follow a prior decision of a different district or division.” McCallum v. McCallum (1987) 190 Cal. App. 3d 308, 316 FN.4. In a split of authority, the “dilemma will endure until the Supreme Court resolves the conflict, or the Legislature clears up the uncertainty by legislation”. McCallum, supra, 190 Cal. App. 3d at 316 FN.4.

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Justin Goodman Featured in SF Apartment Magazine Legal Q&A for April 2019

Justin Goodman was featured in the Legal Q&A for the April 2019 issue of SF Apartment Magazine – the official publication of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Section 37.9(e) of the Rent Ordinance prevents tenants from waiving rights under the Rent Ordinance (with limited exceptions). In the April SFAA Q&A, Justin explored options when a tenant induces a landlord to enter a lease with an unenforceable promise by the tenant to move out when the landlord is ready to move into their home.


SFAA is dedicated to educating, advocating for, and supporting the rental housing community so that its members operate ethically, fairly, and profitably. SFAA’s is a trade association whose main focus is to support rental owners by offering a wide variety of benefits that address all aspects of rental housing industry.

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Justin Goodman Featured in SF Apartment Magazine Legal Q&A for March 2019

Justin Goodman was featured in the Legal Q&A for the March 2019 issue of SF Apartment Magazine – the official publication of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Justin explained the minefield of seeking to use non-residential space (like parking or storage) to construct an Accessory Dwelling Unit, when that space is already being used by a tenant.


SFAA is dedicated to educating, advocating for, and supporting the rental housing community so that its members operate ethically, fairly, and profitably. SFAA’s is a trade association whose main focus is to support rental owners by offering a wide variety of benefits that address all aspects of rental housing industry.

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Justin Goodman Featured in SF Apartment Magazine Legal Q&A for February 2019

Justin Goodman was featured in the Legal Q&A for the February 2019 issue of SF Apartment Magazine – the official publication of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Justin navigated a landlord’s ability to enforce a lease and the law when a tenant unlawfully lists a room on a short term hosting platform. Hosting platforms have largely been unsuccessful in challenging residential unit conversion regulations in California, but many cities do allow registered use within reasonable limits. Landlords do their best to maintain their residential buildings as residential by considering multiple approaches to policing vacation rentals.


SFAA is dedicated to educating, advocating for, and supporting the rental housing community so that its members operate ethically, fairly, and profitably. SFAA’s is a trade association whose main focus is to support rental owners by offering a wide variety of benefits that address all aspects of rental housing industry.

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HomeAway.com, Inc.; Airbnb, Inc. v. City of Santa Monica – Ninth Circuit Rules Cities May Regulate Short-Term Hosting Platforms

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Santa Monica is permitted to regulate hosting platforms, which it found “had negatively impacted the quality and character of its neighborhoods by bringing commercial activity and removing residential housing stock from the market at a time when California is already suffering from severe housing shortages”.

Santa Monica’s ordinance allowed licensed “home-sharing” but prohibited all other short-term rentals of 30 days or fewer. It requires platforms to (1) collect and remit “Transient Occupancy Taxes”, (2) disclose certain listing and booking information regularly, (3) refrain from completing any booking transaction for properties not licensed and listed on the City’s registry, and (4) refrain from collecting or receiving a fee for facilitating or providing services ancillary to a vacation rental or unregistered home-share. Platforms who comply receive safe harbor. (A similar safe harbor provision in San Francisco’s short-term rental ordinance led to settlement of a similar lawsuit in the Northern District of California. Here, the district court granted Santa Monica’s motion to dismiss, for failure to state a cause of action under federal law, including the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the First Amendment.

The CDA provides internet companies with immunity from certain claims in furtherance of its stated policy to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services, providing immunity to cases where “(1) a provider or user of an interactive computer service (2) whom a plaintiff seeks to treat, under a state law cause of action, as a publisher or speaker (3) of information provided by another information content provider”. The hosting platforms argued that the ordinance required them to monitor and remove third party content, in violate of the CDA. The Ninth Circuit, however, found that the ordinance did not try to treat them as publishers. It merely prohibits processing transactions for unregistered properties.

The hosting platforms also argued that they were protected by the First Amendment: even if the plain language of the Ordinance only reaches “conduct” (the booking of unlicensed properties), it effectively imposes a “content-based financial burden” on commercial speech and is thus subject to First Amendment scrutiny. The district court, however, found that the regulation affected conduct that lacked a “significant expressive element”, and the Ninth Circuit agreed.

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San Francisco Legislative Update (2019): Updated Abandoned Buildings Ordinance

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Ordinance 52-19 amends the Building Code’s previous abandoned building ordinance to extend its scope and accelerate its application.

Previously, the code defined a commercial storefront as “vacant or abandoned” if,

(1) it is unoccupied and unsecured;
(2) it is unoccupied and secured by boarding or other similar means;
(3) it is unoccupied and unsafe as defined in Section 102A of the Building Code;
(4) it is unoccupied and has multiple code violations; or
(5) it has been unoccupied for over 30 days.

Properties come outside of the definition of vacant or abandoned if the owner or lessee is actively seeking permits or authorization for a particular use, or if there is a permit for repair, rehabilitation, construction, etc. However, Ordinance 52-19 removes the existing exception where the property is being actively listed for lease or sale. It also requires payment of the registration fee upon registration (as opposed to the former rule: 270 days after it became vacant), and the owner must annually register and pay the fee.

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AB 1795 (2019): Assemblymember Kamlager-Dove’s Amendment to the Unlawful Detainer Statutes Would Maintain “Public Records Mask” for Tenants Who Choose To Fight Ellis Evictions

Information about lawsuits is generally available to the public. And for tenants who have been evicted, this information is often used in credit checks for rental applications. (A landlord would understandably be interested in knowing if her applicant had just been evicted for non-payment of rent.) The unlawful detainer statutes have a specific provision governing the masking of eviction lawsuits from the public record. (Formerly, a limited civil eviction lawsuit would unmask automatically, unless a defendant prevailed in 60 days. A 2016 amendment inverted the rule, maintaining the mask unless the landlord prevailed in 60 days.)

AB 1795, however, would prevent the court clerk from allowing access to information about Ellis Act evictions, regardless of whether the landlord prevails in 60 days. Ellis Act evictions often feature a fight about wealth; the tenant has a non-transferable, valuable property interest in their rent-controlled tenancy, while the landlord wants possession of her valuable asset. In San Francisco, for instance, the City actively encourages tenants to hold over and fight Ellis Act evictions. (After all, there’s no better affordable housing than the exiting unit that already has a rent-controlled tenant in it.) But it is difficult to read this amendment as anything other than tacit encouragement from Sacramento for tenants to violate the law and fight an eviction with fewer consequences. A landlord would understandably be interested in knowing that her prospective tenant is likely to violate obligations other than paying rent, as well.

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AB 1399 (2019): Assemblymember Bloom’s Latest Attempt To Police Re-Rentals following Ellis withdrawal

Provoked by infamous landlord Anne Kihagi (whose aggressive reading of re-rental timing for withdrawn units was actually vindicated in the Court of Appeals), Assemblymember Bloom had introduced last year’s unsuccessful AB 2364 – seeking to require that landlords return to the market all at once or not at all. (By comparison, Kihagi was able to return units to the market that were unoccupied at the time she began the Ellis withdrawal, and was thus able to do so without price constraints.)

Gov. Newsom recently challenged the legislature at his “state of the State” address: “get me a good package on rent stability this year and I will sign it”. While many fresh ideas have already been advanced, AB 1399 appears to be another attempt at AB 2364.

As introduced, its language would allow cities to require Ellis-invoking property owners to return all units to the market at the same time. Many different configurations of properties are withdrawn under the Ellis Act, but for those where the owner (or their family) moves into a tenant-occupied unit, this change would either prevent rental of other units or force property owners to leave their own homes to rent units. One wonders how this bill would aid in easing the housing crisis, where it makes the process of putting existing units back on the market more onerous. (The language will likely need to be changed before the statute can advance.)

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SFAA, SFAR and SPOSFI Sue San Francisco over Sup. Ronen’s Rent Increase Legislation

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This week, the San Francisco Apartment Association, San Francisco Association of Realtors and the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute filed a petition for writ of mandate, seeking to permanently enjoin San Francisco from enforcing Ordinance 5-19, Supervisor Ronen’s legislation aimed at prohibiting “eviction by rent increase”.

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Residential Rent and Eviction Control Resources