Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am the only family who is rent controlled in an 8 unit building. My new landlord’s maintenance manager has threatened me with a harassment law suit if I keep calling his office. It was 6pm and we did not have hot water in the building since 9am in the morning. I phoned 4 times asking for it to be fixed. (I know my neighbor called couple times as well.) Is that illegal? Does it fall under the prop M? What can I do now?
Also, my new landlord is not maintaining the building as it used to be. It’s being cleaned only every 2 weeks instead 3 times a week and he allows dogs in the building. Can he do that?
I’m going to attempt to answer this question as it came to me. Hopefully this will be instructive for anyone who wants to write me in the future. As Sergeant Friday used to say in the 50s-60s TV show, Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am.” Jack Webb, who played the character, was also famous for some really great television style propaganda that would put Glenn Beck to shame.
But I digress again. I need all the facts when I try to answer a tenant’s question. In this case I need to know where the building is located. I’m going to assume San Francisco (because you mention prop M) and point out that in an 8 unit building, built before 1979, everyone is rent controlled. Now if you’re telling me that you and your family have been targeted because you’ve been there a long time and you’re rent is cheap, that’s important. I’m going to assume that’s true because almost all landlord tenant disputes eventually boil down to money.
I have to laugh when a maintenance manager threatens a tenant with a “harassment” lawsuit. What the hell is that? Of course it’s doubly dumb if you’re only calling to get the hot water reinstated.
That brings me to my next question. Does this happen on a regular basis? Or is it a one-time occurrence? If stuff like this is happening all the time it could be a violation of prop M. Proposition M was approved by voters in 2008 and essentially bans tenant harassment. It is laid out in San Francisco Rent Ordinance 37.10B. Yes, I’d say that if you’re having ongoing issues like you described, it could be a violation of the ordinance. You can file a petition for decreases in services at the San Francisco Rent Board. Or sue. If it’s a one-time occurrence, let it go, c’est la vie.
Start documenting your complaints in writing. Write letters to the maintenance guy and to the landlord.
If the reduction in the building cleaning has truly caused a decrease in services, in other words, truly caused safety issues or created Housing Code violations and you have demonstrable evidence, you can file a petition at the Rent Board for that as well.
Finally, yes the landlord can allow dogs in the building and as you may know, there is a movement afoot in San Francisco to require landlords to allow pets in buildings. See Tenant Troubles: Prohibited Pets Could Put You In The Doghouse.
So, future questioners, give me lots of facts so I can really get deep when I answer. I can always edit the superfluous stuff.
Happy New Year everyone! Please, please don’t go near that LSD tomorrow night. It’s the bomb.
Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.