Ayala v. Dawson – First District Court of Appeal Finds Would-Be Buyer Collaterally Estopped To Claim Interest in Property Following Unsuccessful Eviction Defense

“Ayala could have moved to consolidate the unlawful detainer proceeding with this action, thus requiring the court to determine whether the issues presented were so complex and so intertwined with the issue of title that ‘the entire case [should be] treated as an ordinary civil action, not as a summary proceeding’ (Martin-Bragg v. Moore (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 367, 387), but he did not do so. Instead, he ‘acceded to the summary and expedited procedures of unlawful detainer with respect to’ his claim to equitable title.”

In Ayala v. Dawson, the First District Court of Appeal navigated the collateral estoppel created by an unlawful detainer defendant’s litigation of his ownership of the property while simultaneously seeking to litigate his own breach of contract claims.
Continue reading Ayala v. Dawson – First District Court of Appeal Finds Would-Be Buyer Collaterally Estopped To Claim Interest in Property Following Unsuccessful Eviction Defense

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SF Examiner reports on Potential “Code Enforcement Nightmare” as First Soft Store Retrofit Deadline Approaches

September 15th is the first deadline for “Tier One” property owners to submit permit applications for work under the City’s mandatory seismic retrofit program – a 2013 ordinance that requires owners of certain multiunit wood-frame buildings with “soft stories” (i.e., open space first floors that are weaker and more flexible than the stories above) to reinforce the structure to increase resiliency in the event of an earthquake.

The SF Examiner reports that, “Failure to comply with the Sept. 15 deadline will come with penalties. For instance, The City would post an ‘Earthquake Warning’ placard on the property and issue a notice of violations. After the 30-day notice, The City can assess monetary penalties along with putting a lien on the property”.

Property owners can search the Department of Building Inspection website to determine the compliance tier and associated deadline for their buildings.

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SF Gate Reports on City Attorney Lawsuit Against Owner and Master Tenant of “Death Trap” Basement Apartments Below Outer Mission Laundromat

SF Gate reports on a lawsuit by City Attorney Dennis Herrera against the owner and master tenant of a mixed use property in the Outer Mission, where 20 people rented space in a “windowless basement” below a Laundromat. The City brought the lawsuit after uncured violations of City fire, electrical and plumbing cods, and operating a public-nuisance building. The violations evoke last year’s Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.

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Hart v. Darwish – Second District Applies “Interim Adverse Judgment” Rule To Reject Malicious Prosecution Claim

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Hart v. Darwish reviewed a trial court’s determination on a motion for judgment on the pleadings that property owners had not maliciously prosecuted an unlawful detainer action: “To state a claim for malicious prosecution, a person must demonstrate that its adversary initiated a prior action (1) that was terminated in the person’s favor, (2) that the adversary brought the prior action ‘without probable cause’, and (3) that the adversary did so with ‘malice’.”

However, courts will look to what happened in the prior action for indicators that it was legally tenable. In fact, certain substantive rulings will give a near-conclusive effect to certain verdicts or rulings in the former plaintiff’s favor, indicating that there was probable cause in prosecuting the action, even though it ultimately terminated in the former defendant’s favor. This is known as the interim adverse judgment rule.
Continue reading Hart v. Darwish – Second District Applies “Interim Adverse Judgment” Rule To Reject Malicious Prosecution Claim

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Solomon v. Dominguez-Konopek – Second District Court of Appeals Disapproves of Trial Court’s “Split the Baby” Equitable Remedy in light of Rent Board Issue Preclusion

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In an unpublished decision, Division Five of the Second District Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court in a declaratory relief action was not permitted to fashion a compromise equitable remedy to balance a landlord’s predecessor’s imposition of unlawful rental rates and a tenant’s entitlement to equitable offsets for past overpayments going beyond the statute of limitations. Interestingly, the court made this determination on collateral estoppel principles.
Continue reading Solomon v. Dominguez-Konopek – Second District Court of Appeals Disapproves of Trial Court’s “Split the Baby” Equitable Remedy in light of Rent Board Issue Preclusion

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San Francisco Business Times Reports on Supervisor Peskin’s Goal of Taxing Vacant Housing Units

San Francisco Business Times reports on exploring “legislation that would allow the city and county of San Francisco to impose a vacancy tax on property owners to help mitigate the impacts of the widespread practice of warehousing valuable residential and commercial units”.

Landlords sometimes keep units vacant to avoid the burdens of rent and eviction control regulation. However, these “ghost units” do contribute to the scarcity of housing.

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San Francisco Legislative Update (Archives): “Just Cause” Required To Sever Housing Services

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San Francisco Ordinance 178-06 amended the Rent Ordinance to require the same “just cause” for severing housing services as is required for evictions.

The Rent Ordinance defines housing services to include quiet enjoyment of the premises, repairs, replacement, maintenance, painting, light, heat, water, elevator service, laundry facilities and privileges, janitor service, refuse removal, furnishings, telephone, parking, rights permitted the tenant by agreement, including the right to have a specific number of occupants, whether express or implied, and whether or not the agreement prohibits subletting and/or assignment, garage facilities, parking facilities, driveways, storage spaces, laundry rooms, decks, patios, or gardens on the same lot, or kitchen facilities or lobbies in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels, supplied in connection with the use or occupancy of a unit.

While some of these items seem inexorably intertwined with the rental unit itself, others – like access to a parking space – could previously have been “severed” by simply changing the terms of the tenancy to no longer include a parking space. The Board of Supervisors worried that this led to de facto evictions, where landlords gradually took away the amenities that tenants depended on, in an effort to urge them to vacate. By requiring “just cause” for severance, the City prevents these items from being removed piecemeal, where a landlord may only take away such housing services with sufficient cause (e.g., permitted work to convert garage space into an ADU unit).

The corollary of this concept is found in Rent Board Rules & Regulations §12.20, which provides that a tenant cannot generally be evicted for violating a unilaterally-imposed change to the term of their tenancy. (This was the subject of the 2015 opinion Foster v. Britton.)

You can read the full text of Ordinance 178-06 here.

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San Francisco Legislative Update (Archives): Leno Amendment Adding “Number of Occupants” to the List of “Housing Services” and Prohibiting Evictions for Subletting Where Landlord Unreasonably Withholds Consent

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The “Leno Amendment” to the Rent Ordinance (enacted through Ordinance 237-99 added to the list of “housing services” the rights permitted the tenant by agreement, including the right to have a specific number of occupants, whether express or implied, and whether or not the agreement prohibits assignment and/or subletting.

It also limited evictions for breaches of lease covenants where the landlord has unreasonably withheld consent to sublet and the tenant has only made a one-for-one replacement of occupants.

You can read the full text of Ordinance 237-99 here.

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San Francisco Legislative Update (Archives): San Francisco Expands “Mitigation Payment” to All Tenants Displaced by the Ellis Act

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San Francisco Ordinance 21-05 expanded the scope of relocation assistance “mitigation payments” to all tenants displaced by the Ellis Act, regardless of whether they were “low income”.

Ordinance 21-05 provided for an inflation adjusted payment (roughly tracking first months’ rent, last month, and security deposit), which payment was upheld as “reasonable” in the case Pieri v. City & Cty. of San Francisco (2006) 137 Cal. App. 4th 886. However, the “Pieri reasonableness” standard was called into question in the case Coyne v. City & Cty. of San Francisco (2017) 9 Cal. App. 5th 1215, which measured the propriety of mitigation payments by whether they imposed a “prohibitive price” on a landlord’s exercise of his state law right to go out of the residential rental market.

You can read the full text of Ordinance 21-05 here.

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Residential Rent and Eviction Control Resources