Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com, here’s what to make sure to include in your letter.

Garage.JPGI live in an condo in SF (the owners rent out their unit to me) so I am not subject to the provisions of rent control.

I pay $3100 a month in rent and have lived there one year. My rent includes parking in the garage.

Two days ago the garage door broke and we were asked to park on the street while it was being repaired. This is a huge burden for me as street parking is super tough in our neighborhood. The garage door should be fixed today but that was two nights I wasn’t able to use the garage I pay for.

I told my landlord that I thought I should be compensated for this but he says that my lease has a clause about “reasonable loss of usage” and since it’s being fixed quickly I have no claim. I don’t agree with him on this. I pay a LOT of money in rent to have the convenience of a parking spot. Am I allowed compensation here?

Wow, we all should have it so tough.

Yes, you lost the use of your garage and yes, it was a hassle to find a parking place for two days, but the circumstances, as you describe them, do not warrant any reimbursement from the landlord.

Despite the “reasonable loss of usage” clause in your lease, which I suspect may be illegal depending upon its content, I think that a court would see the loss of the garage as just that–a reasonable loss of use.

Evidently, the landlord responded quickly to the problem and he did what he had to do. What else can you expect? The landlord’s response seems to be reasonable under the circumstances.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you do have a colorable claim. In legalese a colorable claim is a claim that is plausible, one that could potentially prevail. What are your damages? You’re certainly not going to be able to claim negligent infliction of emotional distress.

About the best you can do is base your damages upon loss of use of the garage for two days. If your garage constitutes 10% of the value of your unit, you can claim $310.00 divided by 30 days for a grand total of $20.66.

Are you really going to go to small claims court for $21.00? The filing fee alone is $30.00, not to mention the time and energy you’ll spending filling out your claim documents, serving them and attending a hearing in court. And it’s highly likely that you will lose.

If you are still considering that option and you’re fired up about asserting your tenant rights, you should instead volunteer your time at the San Francisco Tenants Union.

At the TU you can speak to tenants with small children who, for example, are enduring a bathtub full of sewage that the landlord refuses to acknowledge or repair. You can see a slew of trumped up three-day notices designed to evict tenants who don’t have enough money to defend them in court. You can meet ninety-year-old native San Franciscans who are being thrown out of their homes to enable developers to sell TICs to Twitter-motherfuckers.

In other words, you can use your indignation to tackle real tenant troubles rather than small inconveniences.

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.

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the author

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.

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  • Boris

    The comments at the end of the article are unwarranted. Sure, there are people more misfortunate than the person writing the question but it’s a fair and legitimate question that Dave chose to answer. Why use space for negativity at the end, just answer the question (or not – it’s your choice) and move on. If you want to only take questions from the destitute then do that. Your snark is just obnoxious.

  • Boris

    The comments at the end of the article are unwarranted. Sure, there are people more misfortunate than the person writing the question but it’s a fair and legitimate question that Dave chose to answer. Why use space for negativity at the end, just answer the question (or not – it’s your choice) and move on. If you want to only take questions from the destitute then do that. Your snark is just obnoxious.

  • Easy Reader

    Sorry, but I have to go with Dave on this. One person’s snark is another person’s calling out someone for a question that sounded rather self-absorbed and petty — the answer to which did not even really require a law degree.

  • Easy Reader

    Sorry, but I have to go with Dave on this. One person’s snark is another person’s calling out someone for a question that sounded rather self-absorbed and petty — the answer to which did not even really require a law degree.

  • Easy Reader

    Sorry, but I have to go with Dave on this. One person’s snark is another person’s calling out someone for a question that sounded rather self-absorbed and petty — the answer to which did not even really require a law degree.

  • Easy Reader

    Sorry, but I have to go with Dave on this. One person’s snark is another person’s calling out someone for a question that sounded rather self-absorbed and petty — the answer to which did not even really require a law degree.

  • RCS

    Does Dave have something against the SF Tenants Union? Instead of answering a simple question in a simple way, like a professional, he decides to pick this question, of all the ones he gets, simply to berate the question’s author and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. All Dave has done is convince whoever wrote this week’s question, and readers, that Dave is unprofessional and sarcastic and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. Does he really think this person will want to jump onto the tenants rights bandwagon after the way Dave spoke to him? There are more productive ways to encourage someone not to fret about petty things and to get involved in bigger ones instead. On top of that, his answer wasn’t even entirely correct (might want to brush up on contract damages, Dave). Rather than picking a question that could have helped readers, he chose this one to show off his snark.

    Here’s an idea: the next time you get a question that you consider unimportant or beneath your dignity, pick a different one to answer that week.

  • RCS

    Does Dave have something against the SF Tenants Union? Instead of answering a simple question in a simple way, like a professional, he decides to pick this question, of all the ones he gets, simply to berate the question’s author and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. All Dave has done is convince whoever wrote this week’s question, and readers, that Dave is unprofessional and sarcastic and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. Does he really think this person will want to jump onto the tenants rights bandwagon after the way Dave spoke to him? There are more productive ways to encourage someone not to fret about petty things and to get involved in bigger ones instead. On top of that, his answer wasn’t even entirely correct (might want to brush up on contract damages, Dave). Rather than picking a question that could have helped readers, he chose this one to show off his snark.

    Here’s an idea: the next time you get a question that you consider unimportant or beneath your dignity, pick a different one to answer that week.

  • RCS

    Does Dave have something against the SF Tenants Union? Instead of answering a simple question in a simple way, like a professional, he decides to pick this question, of all the ones he gets, simply to berate the question’s author and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. All Dave has done is convince whoever wrote this week’s question, and readers, that Dave is unprofessional and sarcastic and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. Does he really think this person will want to jump onto the tenants rights bandwagon after the way Dave spoke to him? There are more productive ways to encourage someone not to fret about petty things and to get involved in bigger ones instead. On top of that, his answer wasn’t even entirely correct (might want to brush up on contract damages, Dave). Rather than picking a question that could have helped readers, he chose this one to show off his snark.

    Here’s an idea: the next time you get a question that you consider unimportant or beneath your dignity, pick a different one to answer that week.

  • RCS

    Does Dave have something against the SF Tenants Union? Instead of answering a simple question in a simple way, like a professional, he decides to pick this question, of all the ones he gets, simply to berate the question’s author and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. All Dave has done is convince whoever wrote this week’s question, and readers, that Dave is unprofessional and sarcastic and damage the SFTU by associating himself with it. Does he really think this person will want to jump onto the tenants rights bandwagon after the way Dave spoke to him? There are more productive ways to encourage someone not to fret about petty things and to get involved in bigger ones instead. On top of that, his answer wasn’t even entirely correct (might want to brush up on contract damages, Dave). Rather than picking a question that could have helped readers, he chose this one to show off his snark.

    Here’s an idea: the next time you get a question that you consider unimportant or beneath your dignity, pick a different one to answer that week.

  • Josh

    Does the inconvenience of losing the garage include having received parking tickets?
    Is there an issue of general safety to the car or a person by having either on the street?
    Is the person who rents, disabled or typically assisting a disabled person into the car?

    To apply for more than “Take 50 bucks off my rent for not having the use for a couple of days”, which makes it not worth the time; one would have to explain why this is such a hardship. Renting isn’t the same as having a cable tv/internet/telephone package service where they credit your account for any moment where something is broken; In housing, there’s a discrimination that’s applied: What’s the difference between a garage door being broken, and the front door being missing? It’s a big difference and so the difference in what one can demand as recompense will be similarly judged.

    Dave aims snark at landlords often, because they are dismissive of the real concerns and difficulties of their tenants. Because they’ve gotten into the business of housing humans which means maintaining their buildings, and instead they treat their tenants and their buildings as “Units” which can be left to rot, or to be fought with, harassed into moving. As if the amazing equity one gets in S.F. for maintaining a building in S.F. weren’t enough, on top of rent.

    Such landlords should get out of the business of housing humans, perhaps move into something simpler, for example warehousing items which can get wet when the roof leaks.

    In this case, the landlord responded well, so the tenant got a bit of snark. Apparently in this town finding a good landlord is hard to find so it’s not in the best interests of a tenant, or the court, to support bashing one who is on top of it.

    What’s funny to me, is whether it’s legally enforceable, the tenant through mentioning the clause about “Reasonable loss of usage” they were then forewarned and agreed to it.
    Which is not to say I support illegal/unenforceable clauses in a lease, I don’t. They mislead tenants all the time. Everyone should consider getting their lease vetted by a professional who can tell them what California and San Francisco rules actually allow for, how a particular line applies or often, does not.

  • Josh

    Does the inconvenience of losing the garage include having received parking tickets?
    Is there an issue of general safety to the car or a person by having either on the street?
    Is the person who rents, disabled or typically assisting a disabled person into the car?

    To apply for more than “Take 50 bucks off my rent for not having the use for a couple of days”, which makes it not worth the time; one would have to explain why this is such a hardship. Renting isn’t the same as having a cable tv/internet/telephone package service where they credit your account for any moment where something is broken; In housing, there’s a discrimination that’s applied: What’s the difference between a garage door being broken, and the front door being missing? It’s a big difference and so the difference in what one can demand as recompense will be similarly judged.

    Dave aims snark at landlords often, because they are dismissive of the real concerns and difficulties of their tenants. Because they’ve gotten into the business of housing humans which means maintaining their buildings, and instead they treat their tenants and their buildings as “Units” which can be left to rot, or to be fought with, harassed into moving. As if the amazing equity one gets in S.F. for maintaining a building in S.F. weren’t enough, on top of rent.

    Such landlords should get out of the business of housing humans, perhaps move into something simpler, for example warehousing items which can get wet when the roof leaks.

    In this case, the landlord responded well, so the tenant got a bit of snark. Apparently in this town finding a good landlord is hard to find so it’s not in the best interests of a tenant, or the court, to support bashing one who is on top of it.

    What’s funny to me, is whether it’s legally enforceable, the tenant through mentioning the clause about “Reasonable loss of usage” they were then forewarned and agreed to it.
    Which is not to say I support illegal/unenforceable clauses in a lease, I don’t. They mislead tenants all the time. Everyone should consider getting their lease vetted by a professional who can tell them what California and San Francisco rules actually allow for, how a particular line applies or often, does not.

  • Josh

    Does the inconvenience of losing the garage include having received parking tickets?
    Is there an issue of general safety to the car or a person by having either on the street?
    Is the person who rents, disabled or typically assisting a disabled person into the car?

    To apply for more than “Take 50 bucks off my rent for not having the use for a couple of days”, which makes it not worth the time; one would have to explain why this is such a hardship. Renting isn’t the same as having a cable tv/internet/telephone package service where they credit your account for any moment where something is broken; In housing, there’s a discrimination that’s applied: What’s the difference between a garage door being broken, and the front door being missing? It’s a big difference and so the difference in what one can demand as recompense will be similarly judged.

    Dave aims snark at landlords often, because they are dismissive of the real concerns and difficulties of their tenants. Because they’ve gotten into the business of housing humans which means maintaining their buildings, and instead they treat their tenants and their buildings as “Units” which can be left to rot, or to be fought with, harassed into moving. As if the amazing equity one gets in S.F. for maintaining a building in S.F. weren’t enough, on top of rent.

    Such landlords should get out of the business of housing humans, perhaps move into something simpler, for example warehousing items which can get wet when the roof leaks.

    In this case, the landlord responded well, so the tenant got a bit of snark. Apparently in this town finding a good landlord is hard to find so it’s not in the best interests of a tenant, or the court, to support bashing one who is on top of it.

    What’s funny to me, is whether it’s legally enforceable, the tenant through mentioning the clause about “Reasonable loss of usage” they were then forewarned and agreed to it.
    Which is not to say I support illegal/unenforceable clauses in a lease, I don’t. They mislead tenants all the time. Everyone should consider getting their lease vetted by a professional who can tell them what California and San Francisco rules actually allow for, how a particular line applies or often, does not.

  • Josh

    Does the inconvenience of losing the garage include having received parking tickets?
    Is there an issue of general safety to the car or a person by having either on the street?
    Is the person who rents, disabled or typically assisting a disabled person into the car?

    To apply for more than “Take 50 bucks off my rent for not having the use for a couple of days”, which makes it not worth the time; one would have to explain why this is such a hardship. Renting isn’t the same as having a cable tv/internet/telephone package service where they credit your account for any moment where something is broken; In housing, there’s a discrimination that’s applied: What’s the difference between a garage door being broken, and the front door being missing? It’s a big difference and so the difference in what one can demand as recompense will be similarly judged.

    Dave aims snark at landlords often, because they are dismissive of the real concerns and difficulties of their tenants. Because they’ve gotten into the business of housing humans which means maintaining their buildings, and instead they treat their tenants and their buildings as “Units” which can be left to rot, or to be fought with, harassed into moving. As if the amazing equity one gets in S.F. for maintaining a building in S.F. weren’t enough, on top of rent.

    Such landlords should get out of the business of housing humans, perhaps move into something simpler, for example warehousing items which can get wet when the roof leaks.

    In this case, the landlord responded well, so the tenant got a bit of snark. Apparently in this town finding a good landlord is hard to find so it’s not in the best interests of a tenant, or the court, to support bashing one who is on top of it.

    What’s funny to me, is whether it’s legally enforceable, the tenant through mentioning the clause about “Reasonable loss of usage” they were then forewarned and agreed to it.
    Which is not to say I support illegal/unenforceable clauses in a lease, I don’t. They mislead tenants all the time. Everyone should consider getting their lease vetted by a professional who can tell them what California and San Francisco rules actually allow for, how a particular line applies or often, does not.

  • A. Poor San Franciscan

    Seriously? You pay 3100$ in rent? I don’t even make that much a month, and I suppose I don’t deserve it since I’m only a scientist with tens of thousands in student loans accumulated trying to learn how to benefit society through science. And you’re whining about parking your expensive car on the street for two nights? Fuck this guy. Donate your money to a better cause.

  • A. Poor San Franciscan

    Seriously? You pay 3100$ in rent? I don’t even make that much a month, and I suppose I don’t deserve it since I’m only a scientist with tens of thousands in student loans accumulated trying to learn how to benefit society through science. And you’re whining about parking your expensive car on the street for two nights? Fuck this guy. Donate your money to a better cause.