citisky.jpg

Oh, CitiApartments. Withholding deposits again?

Here’s a note from yet reader whose having some trouble getting her uncontested deposit back from CitiApartments. Keep on reading for some suggestions on what she, or anyone else in this position, might do to help get this resolved.

I am a former tenant of a CitiApartments building REDACTED. I had lived there for over 5 years, and in the words of my building manager, was one of the best tenants he had.

I moved out officially on the 22nd of July, (non-officially on the 7th, since I needed to move out before my 30 days were up.) and have still yet to receive my deposit, which was due on the 12th of August. I have been speaking to Adrienne Lowe (415) 252-4297 in regards to having my deposit returned, but have had no concrete answers and have gotten nothing but attitude from her. I also spoke to an Amy Lee (415) 252-4268 on the 5th of August, and she assured me that my deposit would be sent out on the 12th of August. Obviously, she lied, seeing as I still do not have the check.

I have been out of work since March of this year, and am having extreme difficulty paying all of my bills. I need my deposit back desperately. I am in dire straits, and will be unable to make my bills for this month. I have moved out of the country – one of the main reasons being I could not find work. I am now awaiting on my work visa here in the UK, and have absolutely no income. Things would have worked out fine if my deposit was returned to me. Being as I am in the UK, I am also afraid that I am really screwed, seeing as I cannot file a small claim because I am no longer a resident of San Francisco. Do I have any recourse? Or do I just have to realize that I have just lost any savings I have had left? Why is this fair to me & why is it allowed to go on?

I cannot believe that this company is being allowed to steal their former tenants money. This is our money. Money we gave to them in good faith for our apartments. How the city of San Francisco can let this go on is shameful and unexcusable.

I called CitiApartments’ Adrienne Lowe to get her side of the story. Her first response, after I identified myself, was to say “I don’t know who you are.” I said “I’m with the San Francisco Appeal, we’re working on a story regarding (this reader’s) deposit, has it been returned to her.” Her response: “Per my employment policy, I am not allowed to speak with the media.” Hmmm. That’s new. We also left a message with CitiApartments’ Amy Lee, which has not been returned.

This reader’s frustration with San Francisco is understandable — after all, the City Attorney has been working on their case against Citi for three years and two days. Additionally, while there is that class action suit against CitiApartments, winning it will take a while.

Though the reader lives out of the country, she can still file a suit in small claims court. So far, it seems like as soon as folks file, their deposits MAGICALLY appear.

However, if that doesn’t happen, this reader will have to return to San Francisco for the hearing. There is a silver lining to this, though: according to Civil Code 1950.5, Subdivision L, if the judge in her case finds that her deposit was witheld in bad faith, she can be awarded two times her deposit, plus “actual damages,” which, in this case, could include the cost of her flight back to the states.

Let’s be clear: there’s no promise that she’ll win that full award (and this reporter is not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice), but it might be worth is to her to take that gamble and at least file that suit.

Have a tale of CitiApartments living you want to share? You know what to do.

See all our CitiApartments coverage here.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Jim

    If a judge were to award international airfare to a former tenant as damages, well that’s a very fortunate former tenant indeed.

    (Generally, damages would be the deposit and then you’d add in the bad faith award on top of that.)

    Believe that airfare and lost wages and all that kind of stuff can’t be recovered as “costs” in CA.

    Therefore people should make sure to sue for the max allowed, which is $7500. Let the judge sort things.

    But if Citi finds out you’re flying in just for this small claims action, they might very well just blow off the court date and appeal, as is their right (as a defendant – plaintiffs generally can’t appeal in CA small claims).

    One option would be to have a lawyer friend write a letter and/or file in Sup. Court. The downside with that is the low-triple-digits filing fee….

  • Jim

    If a judge were to award international airfare to a former tenant as damages, well that’s a very fortunate former tenant indeed.

    (Generally, damages would be the deposit and then you’d add in the bad faith award on top of that.)

    Believe that airfare and lost wages and all that kind of stuff can’t be recovered as “costs” in CA.

    Therefore people should make sure to sue for the max allowed, which is $7500. Let the judge sort things.

    But if Citi finds out you’re flying in just for this small claims action, they might very well just blow off the court date and appeal, as is their right (as a defendant – plaintiffs generally can’t appeal in CA small claims).

    One option would be to have a lawyer friend write a letter and/or file in Sup. Court. The downside with that is the low-triple-digits filing fee….

  • Eve Batey

    Jim, that was not the take of the tenants’ law and legal experts we consulted before writing this piece, but, if you’re now practicing tenant advocacy law, I’m happy to pass your legal advice on to our reader.

  • Eve Batey

    Jim, that was not the take of the tenants’ law and legal experts we consulted before writing this piece, but, if you’re now practicing tenant advocacy law, I’m happy to pass your legal advice on to our reader.

  • Brian Devine

    Jim,

    I think your analysis on the court award travel costs is misguided. The statute (Civil Code 1950.5) provides that the tenant is entitled to her security deposit back, no question. The statute goes on to say that if the landlord is shown to have withheld it in bad faith, the tenant may recover statutory damages of up to two times the original deposit plus “actual damages.” Here, actual damages means damages that are actually suffered by the tenant as a result of the landlord’s bad faith. It seems reasonable that a judge would order a landlord who made its tenant fly from Scotland to recover a deposit to pay her airfare.

    Additionally, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 1033.5(c)(4) allows the trial court wide discretion in what it awards as costs. A rouge landlord who makes its tenant fly all the way from Scotland to recover her deposit in small claims court is the perfect example of why Courts have such discretion, and, again, I would not be surprised to see such an award.

  • Brian Devine

    Jim,

    I think your analysis on the court award travel costs is misguided. The statute (Civil Code 1950.5) provides that the tenant is entitled to her security deposit back, no question. The statute goes on to say that if the landlord is shown to have withheld it in bad faith, the tenant may recover statutory damages of up to two times the original deposit plus “actual damages.” Here, actual damages means damages that are actually suffered by the tenant as a result of the landlord’s bad faith. It seems reasonable that a judge would order a landlord who made its tenant fly from Scotland to recover a deposit to pay her airfare.

    Additionally, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 1033.5(c)(4) allows the trial court wide discretion in what it awards as costs. A rouge landlord who makes its tenant fly all the way from Scotland to recover her deposit in small claims court is the perfect example of why Courts have such discretion, and, again, I would not be surprised to see such an award.

  • salsaman

    So, how is CitiApartments still legally operating, in light of these reports of outright fraud?

  • salsaman

    So, how is CitiApartments still legally operating, in light of these reports of outright fraud?

  • Eve Batey

    Excellent question. I’ve sent a note to the City Atty’s office, in hopes of an update on their case. It would be nice to get a better understanding of why it’s taking so long, and if there’s any resolution in sight. When I hear something y’all will be the first to know.

  • Eve Batey

    Excellent question. I’ve sent a note to the City Atty’s office, in hopes of an update on their case. It would be nice to get a better understanding of why it’s taking so long, and if there’s any resolution in sight. When I hear something y’all will be the first to know.

  • citivictim

    This won’t help anyone who’s already moved out of a Citiapartments building but if you’re thinking about moving out and are worried about losing your deposit the solution is simple: DON’T PAY RENT FOR THE LAST 3 MONTHS. In San Francisco landlords can’t evict tenants before the 3 months of non-payment have ended. The courts and police won’t even bother to evict tenants before 3 months have passed. If the Citiapartments goon squad try to harass you or threaten legal action, just ignore them. It’s also a good idea to change your checking account in case they have your account number (and don’t bounce any checks to them. They can legally fight to get that money back).

  • citivictim

    This won’t help anyone who’s already moved out of a Citiapartments building but if you’re thinking about moving out and are worried about losing your deposit the solution is simple: DON’T PAY RENT FOR THE LAST 3 MONTHS. In San Francisco landlords can’t evict tenants before the 3 months of non-payment have ended. The courts and police won’t even bother to evict tenants before 3 months have passed. If the Citiapartments goon squad try to harass you or threaten legal action, just ignore them. It’s also a good idea to change your checking account in case they have your account number (and don’t bounce any checks to them. They can legally fight to get that money back).

  • Jim

    I wouldn’t call anything you can read on a blog “legal advice” necessarily. Need one practice tenant-side advocacy law to post here?

    Sometimes ALLCAPS isn’t yelling, as here, where it’s a reply:

    “I think your analysis on the court award travel costs is misguided.”

    BECAUSE…?

    “The statute (Civil Code 1950.5) provides that the tenant is entitled to her security deposit back, no question.”

    NO ARGUMENT. AND TWO+TWO=FOUR, NO QUESTION

    “The statute goes on to say that if the landlord is shown to have withheld it in bad faith, the tenant may recover statutory damages of up to two times the original deposit”…

    THE LAW ISN’T AS STRONGLY WORDED AS THAT, BUT THIS LAW IS EASY TO COMPREHEND, NO LAW LICENSE REQ’D, SO READ IT BELOW. TO BE PRECISE, BAD FAITH RETENTION…”may subject the landlord to statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security…” MAYBE YES, MAYBE NO. THE VERSION OF THE BILL I DRAFTED FOR A CO-SPONSORING AGENCY OF AB2330 GOT WATERED DOWN A BIT. YOU KNOW AB2330, RIGHT? IT WAS FROM, WELL, THE ONE THAT SHANT BE NAMED, ASSEMBLYWOMAN VOLDEMORT (D, SAN FRANCISO) OR SOME NAME LIKE THAT. YOU KNOW, IT WAS THAT LGBT WOMAN FOR WHOM I, AND THE CURRENT CITY ATTORNEY USED TO DO A BIT OF VOLUNTEER WORK. http://www.dailynexus.com/article.php?a=3535

    ….”plus “actual damages.” Here, actual damages means damages that are actually suffered by the tenant as a result of the landlord’s bad faith”

    UH…NO. HERE, ACTUAL DAMAGES MEANS THE ACTUAL DAMAGES THE JUDGE DETERMINES THE TENANT SUFFERED, THE BULK OF WHICH WOULD GENERALLY BE THE DEPOSIT ITSELF. THE TENANT CAN GET “ACTUAL DAMAGES” WITH OR WITHOUT THE JUDGE MAKING A BAD FAITH AWARD. YOU CAN ARGUE THIS POINT OF COURSE, BUT I CAN GUARANTEE YOU YOUR INTEPRETATION IS CONTRARY TO THAT OF ALL THE LAWYERS AT LEG. COUNSEL WHO LOOKED AT THIS LAW AT THE TIME.

    It seems reasonable that a judge would order a landlord who made its tenant fly from Scotland to recover a deposit to pay her airfare.

    PERSONALLY, I”D BE ASTONISHED. JMO.

    Additionally, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 1033.5(c)(4) allows the trial court wide discretion in what it awards as costs.

    ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT SMALL CLAIMS COURT HERE? PER THE CA DCA’S SMALL CLAIMS GLOSSARY:
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/glossary.shtml
    “costs (or court costs) …The judgment may require a losing party to pay costs incurred by the prevailing party… Allowable costs do not include claims for travel expenses or loss of time to prepare for or attend the hearing.”
    IF YOU WANT TO CLAIM AIRFARE AS “COSTS” IN A CA SMALL CLAIMS COURT, I’D SAY YOU HAVE AN UPHILL BATTLE.

    THE SAME GOES FOR CLAIMING THEM AS DAMAGES. SOME DEADBEAT DEFENDANTS NEVER SHOW UP FOR THE SMALL CLAIMS HEARING, THEY JUST APPEAL AND GET A NEW TRIAL. IN THIS CASE, THAT WOULD RESULT IN TWO SETS OF AIRFARE, HOTEL, ETC. BILLS?

    SOME SMALL CLAIMS JUDGES NEVER AWARD BAD FAITH DAMAGES FOR RENTAL DEPOSIT RENTENTION AND NEVER AWARD TRAVEL EXPENSES. IF THE TENANT GETS THIS TYPE OF JUDGE, THEN IT’S GOOD NIGHT NURSE. AND THERE’S NO RIGHT OF APPEAL FOR THE PLAINTIFF IN CA SMALL CLAIMS GENERALLY (WHICH MEANS ALMOST ALWAYS).

    ALLCAPS OFF. Whew.

    Anywho, if somebody did fly in from Scotland to go to small claims, then s/he should def. go for the full $7500 demand.

    Generally:
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/sec-deposit.shtml
    I won’t claim I wrote this, but I contributed to some of it. Back in the day it was a tad unrealistic on a few issues, but it was, and still is, an excellent resource. I’ve never seen an error in it.

    ____________________________________

    “The bad faith claim or retention by a landlord or the landlord’
    s successors in interest of the security or any portion thereof in
    violation of this section, or the bad faith demand of replacement
    security in violation of subdivision (j), may subject the landlord or
    the landlord’s successors in interest to statutory damages of up to
    twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages. The
    court may award damages for bad faith whenever the facts warrant that
    award, regardless of whether the injured party has specifically
    requested relief. In any action under this section, the landlord or
    the landlord’s successors in interest shall have the burden of proof
    as to the reasonableness of the amounts claimed or the authority
    pursuant to this section to demand additional security deposits.”

  • Jim

    I wouldn’t call anything you can read on a blog “legal advice” necessarily. Need one practice tenant-side advocacy law to post here?

    Sometimes ALLCAPS isn’t yelling, as here, where it’s a reply:

    “I think your analysis on the court award travel costs is misguided.”

    BECAUSE…?

    “The statute (Civil Code 1950.5) provides that the tenant is entitled to her security deposit back, no question.”

    NO ARGUMENT. AND TWO+TWO=FOUR, NO QUESTION

    “The statute goes on to say that if the landlord is shown to have withheld it in bad faith, the tenant may recover statutory damages of up to two times the original deposit”…

    THE LAW ISN’T AS STRONGLY WORDED AS THAT, BUT THIS LAW IS EASY TO COMPREHEND, NO LAW LICENSE REQ’D, SO READ IT BELOW. TO BE PRECISE, BAD FAITH RETENTION…”may subject the landlord to statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security…” MAYBE YES, MAYBE NO. THE VERSION OF THE BILL I DRAFTED FOR A CO-SPONSORING AGENCY OF AB2330 GOT WATERED DOWN A BIT. YOU KNOW AB2330, RIGHT? IT WAS FROM, WELL, THE ONE THAT SHANT BE NAMED, ASSEMBLYWOMAN VOLDEMORT (D, SAN FRANCISO) OR SOME NAME LIKE THAT. YOU KNOW, IT WAS THAT LGBT WOMAN FOR WHOM I, AND THE CURRENT CITY ATTORNEY USED TO DO A BIT OF VOLUNTEER WORK. http://www.dailynexus.com/article.php?a=3535

    ….”plus “actual damages.” Here, actual damages means damages that are actually suffered by the tenant as a result of the landlord’s bad faith”

    UH…NO. HERE, ACTUAL DAMAGES MEANS THE ACTUAL DAMAGES THE JUDGE DETERMINES THE TENANT SUFFERED, THE BULK OF WHICH WOULD GENERALLY BE THE DEPOSIT ITSELF. THE TENANT CAN GET “ACTUAL DAMAGES” WITH OR WITHOUT THE JUDGE MAKING A BAD FAITH AWARD. YOU CAN ARGUE THIS POINT OF COURSE, BUT I CAN GUARANTEE YOU YOUR INTEPRETATION IS CONTRARY TO THAT OF ALL THE LAWYERS AT LEG. COUNSEL WHO LOOKED AT THIS LAW AT THE TIME.

    It seems reasonable that a judge would order a landlord who made its tenant fly from Scotland to recover a deposit to pay her airfare.

    PERSONALLY, I”D BE ASTONISHED. JMO.

    Additionally, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 1033.5(c)(4) allows the trial court wide discretion in what it awards as costs.

    ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT SMALL CLAIMS COURT HERE? PER THE CA DCA’S SMALL CLAIMS GLOSSARY:
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/glossary.shtml
    “costs (or court costs) …The judgment may require a losing party to pay costs incurred by the prevailing party… Allowable costs do not include claims for travel expenses or loss of time to prepare for or attend the hearing.”
    IF YOU WANT TO CLAIM AIRFARE AS “COSTS” IN A CA SMALL CLAIMS COURT, I’D SAY YOU HAVE AN UPHILL BATTLE.

    THE SAME GOES FOR CLAIMING THEM AS DAMAGES. SOME DEADBEAT DEFENDANTS NEVER SHOW UP FOR THE SMALL CLAIMS HEARING, THEY JUST APPEAL AND GET A NEW TRIAL. IN THIS CASE, THAT WOULD RESULT IN TWO SETS OF AIRFARE, HOTEL, ETC. BILLS?

    SOME SMALL CLAIMS JUDGES NEVER AWARD BAD FAITH DAMAGES FOR RENTAL DEPOSIT RENTENTION AND NEVER AWARD TRAVEL EXPENSES. IF THE TENANT GETS THIS TYPE OF JUDGE, THEN IT’S GOOD NIGHT NURSE. AND THERE’S NO RIGHT OF APPEAL FOR THE PLAINTIFF IN CA SMALL CLAIMS GENERALLY (WHICH MEANS ALMOST ALWAYS).

    ALLCAPS OFF. Whew.

    Anywho, if somebody did fly in from Scotland to go to small claims, then s/he should def. go for the full $7500 demand.

    Generally:
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/sec-deposit.shtml
    I won’t claim I wrote this, but I contributed to some of it. Back in the day it was a tad unrealistic on a few issues, but it was, and still is, an excellent resource. I’ve never seen an error in it.

    ____________________________________

    “The bad faith claim or retention by a landlord or the landlord’
    s successors in interest of the security or any portion thereof in
    violation of this section, or the bad faith demand of replacement
    security in violation of subdivision (j), may subject the landlord or
    the landlord’s successors in interest to statutory damages of up to
    twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages. The
    court may award damages for bad faith whenever the facts warrant that
    award, regardless of whether the injured party has specifically
    requested relief. In any action under this section, the landlord or
    the landlord’s successors in interest shall have the burden of proof
    as to the reasonableness of the amounts claimed or the authority
    pursuant to this section to demand additional security deposits.”

  • Jim

    Offhand, I can think of a few downsides to the DON’T PAY RENT FOR THE LAST 3 MONTHS approach to dealing with CitiApartments, but it might be a tempting idea to some people.

    It would all depend on how Citi reacts…

  • Jim

    Offhand, I can think of a few downsides to the DON’T PAY RENT FOR THE LAST 3 MONTHS approach to dealing with CitiApartments, but it might be a tempting idea to some people.

    It would all depend on how Citi reacts…

  • Brian Devine

    Jim,

    On costs: Are you seriously suggesting that a glossary that you found on a website that’s not even affiliated with the Court is more persuasive than the Code of Civil Procedure? Because only one of these was written by the Legislature, and its not the glossary.

    On damages: If you think that returning the tenants money constitutes actual damages under Civil Code 1950.5, you fundamentally misunderstand of this law. The landlord holds the tenants money in trust. If it does not make a claim to that money within 21 days after the tenant moves out, it must return that money to the tenant. After the 21-day period, therefore, the money belongs to the tenant but is simply held by the landlord. Under any definition, thats not actual damages. So actual damages clearly means something more than simply returning the money that already belongs to the tenant. And in this context, it likely would include any damages that the tenant actually suffered as a result of the landlords bad faith retention of the security deposit. That could include such things as late fees on credit card bills, penalties on tax payments, and, yes, possibly even the airfare that the tenant had to incur to get their money back from the landlord.

    And just to be clear, I never said that a tenant will recover airfare as a matter or right. I simply said the Court has the discretion to award it, and the Court has two hooks on which to hang the award: costs and damages. Our fine Commissioners and Judges Pro Tem who hear small claims cases and appeals in San Francisco have very little tolerance for rouge landlords who illegally steal their tenants money. And in cases like this where a landlord blatantly breaks the law and steals their tenants money, its been my experience that they exercise their discretion in a way that ensures that the tenant is fairly compensated. If you have a different experience, Id love to hear it.

  • Brian Devine

    Jim,

    On costs: Are you seriously suggesting that a glossary that you found on a website that’s not even affiliated with the Court is more persuasive than the Code of Civil Procedure? Because only one of these was written by the Legislature, and its not the glossary.

    On damages: If you think that returning the tenants money constitutes actual damages under Civil Code 1950.5, you fundamentally misunderstand of this law. The landlord holds the tenants money in trust. If it does not make a claim to that money within 21 days after the tenant moves out, it must return that money to the tenant. After the 21-day period, therefore, the money belongs to the tenant but is simply held by the landlord. Under any definition, thats not actual damages. So actual damages clearly means something more than simply returning the money that already belongs to the tenant. And in this context, it likely would include any damages that the tenant actually suffered as a result of the landlords bad faith retention of the security deposit. That could include such things as late fees on credit card bills, penalties on tax payments, and, yes, possibly even the airfare that the tenant had to incur to get their money back from the landlord.

    And just to be clear, I never said that a tenant will recover airfare as a matter or right. I simply said the Court has the discretion to award it, and the Court has two hooks on which to hang the award: costs and damages. Our fine Commissioners and Judges Pro Tem who hear small claims cases and appeals in San Francisco have very little tolerance for rouge landlords who illegally steal their tenants money. And in cases like this where a landlord blatantly breaks the law and steals their tenants money, its been my experience that they exercise their discretion in a way that ensures that the tenant is fairly compensated. If you have a different experience, Id love to hear it.

  • slowcali

    Hey Brian – I hope you’re right about this one. It sounds like a prtty ridick ongoing story.

    Also, in case it saves you some em-bare-ass-ment in future- I think the spelling you’re looking for is rogue (lawless person) , not rouge (color, type of makeup).

  • slowcali

    Hey Brian – I hope you’re right about this one. It sounds like a prtty ridick ongoing story.

    Also, in case it saves you some em-bare-ass-ment in future- I think the spelling you’re looking for is rogue (lawless person) , not rouge (color, type of makeup).

  • Jim

    Boy, when I’m in the hospital and the doctors are about to pull the plug, I want you there fighting for me.

    The SF Tenants Union and the CA court system refer people to the ca.gov Dept. of Consumer Affairs website. Is that wrong? If I were living in Scotland pondering your words, I’d think “why do the lawyers of CA DCA say that that I can’t get travel expenses in Small Claims?” And then you could say how misguided all these people are, blah blah blah. O.K.

    http://www.sftu.org/
    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/index.shtml

    Obviously, a small claims judge can do pretty much whatever s/he wants to do. If you want to say that a judge could “possibly even” include airfare in an award, I’ll agree that it’s not impossible (assuming that the tenant sued for the full $7500 to give the judge full flexibility).

    But has anybody ever collected international airfare from a landlord for traveling to a small claims court hearing? In the history of California?

    You know who might know is Jim Rogers, “the (former) People’s Lawyer.” (He’d actually get contingency fees from small claims litigants he advised.) But he had to go away http://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/member_detail.aspx?x=95990 Are there stats kept anywhere? What I’m saying is that it’s hard to predict how likely it is any tenant can get Miggy Money or Carole (don’t forget the “e,” that might set her off!) Cash for bad faith retention in addition to damages. There’s generally no real record of what happens in small claims.

    I think you’re assuming that CitiApartment tenants will get bad faith awards. I don’t know what percentage they’ll get. It could be 0%. What might be helpful is a printout of the articles on this very website, people could use that to show a pattern of behavior.

    Speaking of websites, perhaps somebody could host a webpage where former Citi residents recount their tales. That might be nice.

    I think small claims judges in SF generally have a more conservative outlook compared to you and the population of SF. Generally speaking.

    So, for any particular former tenant, will they get their deposit back? Yes, Will they get a bad faith award? Maybe. Will they get reimbursed for travel expenses? No. That’s something to think about before buying round trip airfare.

    Perhaps “7 on Your Side” or that dude from Channel 4 could hound Citi on camera?

  • Jim

    Boy, when I’m in the hospital and the doctors are about to pull the plug, I want you there fighting for me.

    The SF Tenants Union and the CA court system refer people to the ca.gov Dept. of Consumer Affairs website. Is that wrong? If I were living in Scotland pondering your words, I’d think “why do the lawyers of CA DCA say that that I can’t get travel expenses in Small Claims?” And then you could say how misguided all these people are, blah blah blah. O.K.

    http://www.sftu.org/
    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/index.shtml

    Obviously, a small claims judge can do pretty much whatever s/he wants to do. If you want to say that a judge could “possibly even” include airfare in an award, I’ll agree that it’s not impossible (assuming that the tenant sued for the full $7500 to give the judge full flexibility).

    But has anybody ever collected international airfare from a landlord for traveling to a small claims court hearing? In the history of California?

    You know who might know is Jim Rogers, “the (former) People’s Lawyer.” (He’d actually get contingency fees from small claims litigants he advised.) But he had to go away http://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/member_detail.aspx?x=95990 Are there stats kept anywhere? What I’m saying is that it’s hard to predict how likely it is any tenant can get Miggy Money or Carole (don’t forget the “e,” that might set her off!) Cash for bad faith retention in addition to damages. There’s generally no real record of what happens in small claims.

    I think you’re assuming that CitiApartment tenants will get bad faith awards. I don’t know what percentage they’ll get. It could be 0%. What might be helpful is a printout of the articles on this very website, people could use that to show a pattern of behavior.

    Speaking of websites, perhaps somebody could host a webpage where former Citi residents recount their tales. That might be nice.

    I think small claims judges in SF generally have a more conservative outlook compared to you and the population of SF. Generally speaking.

    So, for any particular former tenant, will they get their deposit back? Yes, Will they get a bad faith award? Maybe. Will they get reimbursed for travel expenses? No. That’s something to think about before buying round trip airfare.

    Perhaps “7 on Your Side” or that dude from Channel 4 could hound Citi on camera?