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Oh, CitiApartments! It’s been a while. With folks like the Examiner’s John Upton on The Case Of The Former Employee Class Action Suit, and the Guardian’s coverage of CitiApartments’ most recent legal woes, we almost feel bad piling on poor old CitiApartments.

Apparently recognizing what a terrible name and reputation they’re earning, CitiApartments seems to be doing a little whitewashing: First their rental agents stopped using the CitiApartments name on their listings, but as of last month they stripped the “CitiApartments” name from their site.

Deputy City Atty Yvonne Mere, who’s on the city’s case against Citi, was especially confounded by this move. “One of the things they have asserted is that they’re not a ‘property management company,’ but are instead a branding agency.” Nice work with that brand, y’all!

And the work gets even nicer: now, even their “San Francisco Apartments” site is dead. Oh, CitiApartments, what wacky trick will you pull next?

I’m expected to pay rent on time, they should give the deposit back in a timely mannerOh, wait, we know: they’ll fail to return an uncontested security deposit from a former tenant AGAIN!

Appeal reader E. says she moved out of a CitiApartments owned property on the 1300 block of Lombard 50 days ago, but is getting the runaround on her $2,300.00 deposit.

“I find this really disturbing that they are using my security deposit (which presumably should be in escrow gaining interest) to do whatever they are doing mismanaging their company. I’m expected to pay rent on time, they should give the deposit back in a timely manner” says E.

In an email conversation with E. on October 1, CitiApartments employee Kiet Luu (Luu would not return our call for comment) says:

Yes, a refund in the amount of $2335.50 is due to you. This refund process is taking longer than normal because this property is currently under lockbox with the bank. The bank has to review and approve every refund request we have before we can release them. Your refund is already requested and I do believe it will be released sometime next week. *

E. says that “today, through the California Courts Self-help website I used their “demand letter” to send out to the two people I know over there.”

Brian Devine, the lawyer behind the class action suit brought against CitiApartments for this alleged deposit-witholding, has pointed us to Civil Code 1950.5, “which 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.”

Just something to think about.

Send us your tales of the Citi. We’d love to hear them.

*A guess: if you try this excuse with CitiApartments when you’re 50 days late with your rent, they will fuck you up!

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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  • pepelicious

    I’m sure there are many landlords who could say the same about tenants who withold rent, but still get to inhabit the building.

  • pepelicious

    I’m sure there are many landlords who could say the same about tenants who withold rent, but still get to inhabit the building.

  • salsaman

    Pepe, as I understand it, a landlord should know a tenant’s credit history before offering a rental contract, so it’s not as if the landlord entered into the agreement with a deadbeat tenant blindly. Furthermore, the landlord has numerous ways to go after a tenant who refuses to pay rent, including eviction and filing negative marks against the tenant’s credit history.

    A former tenant who is owed a security deposit has very few ways to pressure a former landlord to pay up. Renters generally do not have and cannot afford to pay for legal representation.

  • salsaman

    Pepe, as I understand it, a landlord should know a tenant’s credit history before offering a rental contract, so it’s not as if the landlord entered into the agreement with a deadbeat tenant blindly. Furthermore, the landlord has numerous ways to go after a tenant who refuses to pay rent, including eviction and filing negative marks against the tenant’s credit history.

    A former tenant who is owed a security deposit has very few ways to pressure a former landlord to pay up. Renters generally do not have and cannot afford to pay for legal representation.

  • designeraddict

    As I’ve previously commented, the Lembi family (aka “CitiApartments”) is playing more of their whitewashing/rebranding bullshit with the advent of yet another LLC – namely “Urban Pioneer.”

    To wit:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1421136050.html

    Same players, same game.

  • designeraddict

    As I’ve previously commented, the Lembi family (aka “CitiApartments”) is playing more of their whitewashing/rebranding bullshit with the advent of yet another LLC – namely “Urban Pioneer.”

    To wit:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1421136050.html

    Same players, same game.

  • NYC

    The City Attorneys Office is a complete joke!
    Yvonne Mere should look up the meaning of the word “ASSERTED”. How can this city official make this stupid public statement .

    CITIAPARTMENTS-FIRSTAPARTMENTS
    IS ABOVE ALL A RESIDENTIAL BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMPANY !

    THEY RENT APT’S IN BUILDINGS THEY OWE MONTHLY MTGS. ON TO VARIOUS BANKS, THEY COLLECT RENTS ON SAID APT’S. THEY HAVE STOLEN SOME $10 MILLION DOLLARS IN SECURITY DEPOSITS. THEY HAVE HAD MANY PROPERTIES FORECLOSED ON BY THEIR PONZI BANK LENDERS !

    THEY HAVE DONE AWAY WITH ALL BUILDING MANAGERS THRU THIS ILLEGAL “POD SYSTEM ” THEY SET UP .
    IN WHICH THEY ILLEGALLY HAVE FIRED ALL THEIR BUILDING MANAGERS THRU THE PROCESS OF NOW WANTING TO CHARGE THE MANAGER RENT, YET NOT PAY A MINIMUM WAGE AND APPLY THAT TO THE RENT DEDUCTION AS THE LAW PRESCRIBES. INSTEAD THEY TRIED TO EXTORT RENT FROM THE MANAGERS IN ASKING THEM TO SIGN ILLEGAL CONTRACTS. MOST OF THE PROPERTY MANAGERS WERE TO AFRAID TO FIGHT THESE MAFIA STYLE TACTICS AND COWERED DOWN AND EITHER PAID THE LEMBI FAMILY RENT AND CONTINUED TO MANAGE THE BUILDING OR HAS TO VACATE THE APT WHICH WAS THE GOAL TO BEGIN WITH .

    PROOF OF THIS TACTIC IS THAT CITIAPARTMENTS CALLED THE RESIDENTS AT EACH PROPERTY THAT HAD 16 OR MORE UNITS AND ASKED IF THAT RESIDENT WAS INTERESTED IN A MONTHLY RENT REDUCTION TO TAKE PHONE CALLS FROM THE OTHER RESIDENTS AS TO BUILDING MAINT. ISSUES . THEY WERE OFFERING $100 TO $200 A MONTH FOR THIS WHILE GETTING BACK THE MANAGERS APT IN EACH OT THE 16 OR MORE UNIT BUILDINGS THEY “OWN”.

    THEY STATED TO MANAGERS THAT THIS “BUILDING MANAGER LAW WAS A GREY AREA” WITH THAT THE LEMBI FAMILY APPLIED IT AS THEY WISHED AND HAVE BROKE ALL STATE AND FEDERAL TAX LAWS IN DOING SO

    THEY HAVE BROKEN ALL OF THE MINIMUM WAGE AND PAYROLL TAX LAWS IN THIS COUNTRY!

    THE S.F. BUILDING MANAGEMENT LAW STATES THAT IF YOU OWN OR ARE A PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY WHO MANAGES A BUILDING WITH 16 OR MORE UNITS AT THAT PROPERTY YOU MUST HAVE A RESIDENT MANAGER WHO LIVES ON SITE AT THAT PROPERTY. AS PART OF THE DEAL THAT THE CITY OF S.F. MADE WITH THE REAL ESTATE LORDS WAS THAT THE BUILDING OWNERS AND OR MANAGEMENT COMPANY WOULD RECEIVE TAX BREAKS UNDER THE FICA AND FUTA TAX CODES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    IN ADDITION TO THIS THE PROPERTY OWNER OF BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMPANY ARE TO PAY THE BUILDING MANAGER THE MINIMUM WAGE AS APPLIED BY WAGE ORDER NO.5-2001 UNDER THE INDUSTRIAL WELFARE COMMISSION REGULATING WAGES, HOURS AND WORKING CONDITIONS IN THE PUBLIC HOUSEKEEPING INDUSTRY.

    IN FACT UNDER THE HOUSING INSPECTION SERVICES FOR THE CITY AND COUNTY OF S.F. AS APPROVED BY MAYOR NEWSOM ON THE INFORMATIONAL MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST REVISED DEC.2008 THE LAST ITEM ON THIS CHECKLIST IS #34

    ON SITE CARETAKER:
    APARTMENT HOUSES OF 16 OR MORE DWELLINGS OR HOTELS OF 12 OR MORE GUEST ROOMS MUST HAVE AN ONSITE CARETAKER THAT CAN BE CONTACTED BY THE CITY IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY . THE NAME AND # AND CONTACT INFORMATION OF THIS INDIVIDUAL MUST BE POSTED AT THE FRONT ENTRANCE TO THE BUILDING !

    THE 33 ITEMS ON THIS OFFICIAL NEWSOM APPROVED DOCUMENT ARE UNDER THE HOUSING INSPECTION SERVICES DIVISION AND ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PROPERTY OWNER AND OR MANAGEMENT COMPANY AND ULTIMATELY FALLS ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE BUILDING MANAGER OF THAT PROPERTY!

    SO YOU SEE THE STATEMENT THAT THE ASST. DEPUTY TO DENNIS HERRERA MADE AS TO CITIAPARTMENTS IS IN THE BRANDING BUSINESS IS AN OUT AND OUT LIE !

    IT IS CITY OFFICIALS LIKE THIS YVONNE MERE WHO IS SO OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE REALITY OF THE TRUTH THAT THIS COMPANY HAS COMMITTED CRIMES THAT ARE PUNISHABLE BY FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS WHICH INCLUDES IMPRISONMENT .

    WALTER LEMBI JUST HAD A NEVADA WARRANT OUR FOR HIS ARREST FOR THE $298,000 IN GAMBLING DEBTS THAT HE INCURRED WHILE PLAYING “CEASAR” AT CEASARS PALACE BACK IN MAY 09 WHILE THE LEMBI EMPIRE WAS AND IS STILL CRUMBLING WHILE HE AND HIS FATHER FRANK LEMBI WERE PLOTTING AND STEALING THE $10 MILLION DOLLARS IN RESIDENT SECURITY DEPOSITS.

    OBVIOUSLY YVONNE MERE DOES NOT KEEP UP WITH THE WHAT SHE IS PAID TO DO BY THE TAXPAYERS OF S.F. WHICH IS JUST TYPICAL OF THIS CITY.

    YOU HAVE THESE OFFICIALS WHO DON’T APPLY THE WEAK LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS AND THE LEGISLATORS WHO HAVE NOT LOOKED AT THESE LAWS TO MAKE THEM TOUGHER FOR PEOPLE LIKE THE LEMBI’S WHOM HAVE DISPLACED PEOPLE USED MAFIA TACTICS TO INTIMIDATE RESIDENTS AND THEIR OWN WORKFORCE.

    ALL THE BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMPANIES OF S.F.AND CA. NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THE IRS .

    THE JOB TITLE KNOW AS “BUILDING MANAGER HAS BECOME THE NEW MIIGRANT FARM WORKER IN THE CA. WORK FORCE”.

    FOR WE HAVE NO RIGHTS ACCORDING TO THE REAL ESTATE MOGULS AND THE CITY AGENCIES JUST PUSH PAPER TO KEEP THEIR JOBS.

    MAYOR NEWSOME AND GOV. ARNOLD HAVE JUST LET THIS HAPPEN AND COULD CARE LESS.

    I CAN TELL YOU THIS THE IRS CARES AND ATTORNEY GENERAL BROWN WILL CARE AND SENATOR MARK LENO WILL CARE I SAY THIS WITH COMPLETE CONFIDENCE FOR I WAS A BUILDING MANAGER FOR THE FORMER CITIAPT’S AND NOW FST. APTS COMPANY AND I HAVE FILED CASES WITH THE CITY AND WILL HAVE AN AUDIENCE WITH THE IRS AND THE ATT. GENERAL AS WELL AS SEN. LENO.

    IN LIFE IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT PRINCIPLES AND INTEGRITY SOMETHING THE LEMBI FAMILY AND MANY OF S.F. CITY AND STATE OFFICIALS OF CA. NO NOTHING ABOUT

    IN THE OLD SCHOOL WAYS OF CITY AND GOV, CORRUPTION THEY JUST SAY ” THE ENVELOPE PLEASE”…

    SAN FRANCISCO IS A DYING CITY THANKS TO THE AFOREMENTIONED PEOPLE IN MY STATEMENT…

    PEACE… NYC

  • NYC

    The City Attorneys Office is a complete joke!
    Yvonne Mere should look up the meaning of the word “ASSERTED”. How can this city official make this stupid public statement .

    CITIAPARTMENTS-FIRSTAPARTMENTS
    IS ABOVE ALL A RESIDENTIAL BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMPANY !

    THEY RENT APT’S IN BUILDINGS THEY OWE MONTHLY MTGS. ON TO VARIOUS BANKS, THEY COLLECT RENTS ON SAID APT’S. THEY HAVE STOLEN SOME $10 MILLION DOLLARS IN SECURITY DEPOSITS. THEY HAVE HAD MANY PROPERTIES FORECLOSED ON BY THEIR PONZI BANK LENDERS !

    THEY HAVE DONE AWAY WITH ALL BUILDING MANAGERS THRU THIS ILLEGAL “POD SYSTEM ” THEY SET UP .
    IN WHICH THEY ILLEGALLY HAVE FIRED ALL THEIR BUILDING MANAGERS THRU THE PROCESS OF NOW WANTING TO CHARGE THE MANAGER RENT, YET NOT PAY A MINIMUM WAGE AND APPLY THAT TO THE RENT DEDUCTION AS THE LAW PRESCRIBES. INSTEAD THEY TRIED TO EXTORT RENT FROM THE MANAGERS IN ASKING THEM TO SIGN ILLEGAL CONTRACTS. MOST OF THE PROPERTY MANAGERS WERE TO AFRAID TO FIGHT THESE MAFIA STYLE TACTICS AND COWERED DOWN AND EITHER PAID THE LEMBI FAMILY RENT AND CONTINUED TO MANAGE THE BUILDING OR HAS TO VACATE THE APT WHICH WAS THE GOAL TO BEGIN WITH .

    PROOF OF THIS TACTIC IS THAT CITIAPARTMENTS CALLED THE RESIDENTS AT EACH PROPERTY THAT HAD 16 OR MORE UNITS AND ASKED IF THAT RESIDENT WAS INTERESTED IN A MONTHLY RENT REDUCTION TO TAKE PHONE CALLS FROM THE OTHER RESIDENTS AS TO BUILDING MAINT. ISSUES . THEY WERE OFFERING $100 TO $200 A MONTH FOR THIS WHILE GETTING BACK THE MANAGERS APT IN EACH OT THE 16 OR MORE UNIT BUILDINGS THEY “OWN”.

    THEY STATED TO MANAGERS THAT THIS “BUILDING MANAGER LAW WAS A GREY AREA” WITH THAT THE LEMBI FAMILY APPLIED IT AS THEY WISHED AND HAVE BROKE ALL STATE AND FEDERAL TAX LAWS IN DOING SO

    THEY HAVE BROKEN ALL OF THE MINIMUM WAGE AND PAYROLL TAX LAWS IN THIS COUNTRY!

    THE S.F. BUILDING MANAGEMENT LAW STATES THAT IF YOU OWN OR ARE A PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY WHO MANAGES A BUILDING WITH 16 OR MORE UNITS AT THAT PROPERTY YOU MUST HAVE A RESIDENT MANAGER WHO LIVES ON SITE AT THAT PROPERTY. AS PART OF THE DEAL THAT THE CITY OF S.F. MADE WITH THE REAL ESTATE LORDS WAS THAT THE BUILDING OWNERS AND OR MANAGEMENT COMPANY WOULD RECEIVE TAX BREAKS UNDER THE FICA AND FUTA TAX CODES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    IN ADDITION TO THIS THE PROPERTY OWNER OF BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMPANY ARE TO PAY THE BUILDING MANAGER THE MINIMUM WAGE AS APPLIED BY WAGE ORDER NO.5-2001 UNDER THE INDUSTRIAL WELFARE COMMISSION REGULATING WAGES, HOURS AND WORKING CONDITIONS IN THE PUBLIC HOUSEKEEPING INDUSTRY.

    IN FACT UNDER THE HOUSING INSPECTION SERVICES FOR THE CITY AND COUNTY OF S.F. AS APPROVED BY MAYOR NEWSOM ON THE INFORMATIONAL MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST REVISED DEC.2008 THE LAST ITEM ON THIS CHECKLIST IS #34

    ON SITE CARETAKER:
    APARTMENT HOUSES OF 16 OR MORE DWELLINGS OR HOTELS OF 12 OR MORE GUEST ROOMS MUST HAVE AN ONSITE CARETAKER THAT CAN BE CONTACTED BY THE CITY IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY . THE NAME AND # AND CONTACT INFORMATION OF THIS INDIVIDUAL MUST BE POSTED AT THE FRONT ENTRANCE TO THE BUILDING !

    THE 33 ITEMS ON THIS OFFICIAL NEWSOM APPROVED DOCUMENT ARE UNDER THE HOUSING INSPECTION SERVICES DIVISION AND ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PROPERTY OWNER AND OR MANAGEMENT COMPANY AND ULTIMATELY FALLS ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE BUILDING MANAGER OF THAT PROPERTY!

    SO YOU SEE THE STATEMENT THAT THE ASST. DEPUTY TO DENNIS HERRERA MADE AS TO CITIAPARTMENTS IS IN THE BRANDING BUSINESS IS AN OUT AND OUT LIE !

    IT IS CITY OFFICIALS LIKE THIS YVONNE MERE WHO IS SO OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE REALITY OF THE TRUTH THAT THIS COMPANY HAS COMMITTED CRIMES THAT ARE PUNISHABLE BY FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS WHICH INCLUDES IMPRISONMENT .

    WALTER LEMBI JUST HAD A NEVADA WARRANT OUR FOR HIS ARREST FOR THE $298,000 IN GAMBLING DEBTS THAT HE INCURRED WHILE PLAYING “CEASAR” AT CEASARS PALACE BACK IN MAY 09 WHILE THE LEMBI EMPIRE WAS AND IS STILL CRUMBLING WHILE HE AND HIS FATHER FRANK LEMBI WERE PLOTTING AND STEALING THE $10 MILLION DOLLARS IN RESIDENT SECURITY DEPOSITS.

    OBVIOUSLY YVONNE MERE DOES NOT KEEP UP WITH THE WHAT SHE IS PAID TO DO BY THE TAXPAYERS OF S.F. WHICH IS JUST TYPICAL OF THIS CITY.

    YOU HAVE THESE OFFICIALS WHO DON’T APPLY THE WEAK LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS AND THE LEGISLATORS WHO HAVE NOT LOOKED AT THESE LAWS TO MAKE THEM TOUGHER FOR PEOPLE LIKE THE LEMBI’S WHOM HAVE DISPLACED PEOPLE USED MAFIA TACTICS TO INTIMIDATE RESIDENTS AND THEIR OWN WORKFORCE.

    ALL THE BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMPANIES OF S.F.AND CA. NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THE IRS .

    THE JOB TITLE KNOW AS “BUILDING MANAGER HAS BECOME THE NEW MIIGRANT FARM WORKER IN THE CA. WORK FORCE”.

    FOR WE HAVE NO RIGHTS ACCORDING TO THE REAL ESTATE MOGULS AND THE CITY AGENCIES JUST PUSH PAPER TO KEEP THEIR JOBS.

    MAYOR NEWSOME AND GOV. ARNOLD HAVE JUST LET THIS HAPPEN AND COULD CARE LESS.

    I CAN TELL YOU THIS THE IRS CARES AND ATTORNEY GENERAL BROWN WILL CARE AND SENATOR MARK LENO WILL CARE I SAY THIS WITH COMPLETE CONFIDENCE FOR I WAS A BUILDING MANAGER FOR THE FORMER CITIAPT’S AND NOW FST. APTS COMPANY AND I HAVE FILED CASES WITH THE CITY AND WILL HAVE AN AUDIENCE WITH THE IRS AND THE ATT. GENERAL AS WELL AS SEN. LENO.

    IN LIFE IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT PRINCIPLES AND INTEGRITY SOMETHING THE LEMBI FAMILY AND MANY OF S.F. CITY AND STATE OFFICIALS OF CA. NO NOTHING ABOUT

    IN THE OLD SCHOOL WAYS OF CITY AND GOV, CORRUPTION THEY JUST SAY ” THE ENVELOPE PLEASE”…

    SAN FRANCISCO IS A DYING CITY THANKS TO THE AFOREMENTIONED PEOPLE IN MY STATEMENT…

    PEACE… NYC