Two laws that pique my interest this year have to do with the always tense relationship between Landlords and Tenants.

The first has to do with Mold. You know, the stuff that is everywhere, and I do mean – everywhere. The black, toxic stuff is what everyone fears. The blue, yummy stuff is what we eat in our cheese. The white stuff is on just about everybody’s oranges (after two weeks or so), and the green stuff is what grows all over that cup of tea by Monday, that you forgot to empty out on Friday.

OK, so tenants get all kinds of afflictions and make “habitability” claims every time they see ANY mold at all. Even when the tenant is – less that sparkly clean – and actually causes the mold to grow in the first place.

The Legislature has now said that a Landlord is NOT obligated to repair (at the Landlord’s expense) dilapidations relating to mold 1) until the Landlord has notice of it, or 2) if the tenant fails to keep the property clean and sanitary, and thereby substantially contributes to the existence of the mold.

Oh, and “minor” mold on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their proper and intended use (i.e. kitchen counters…) would NOT constitute a “substandard condition.”

So, what’s the second legal issue?

Rent Control.

And AirBNB (or similar short-term rentals).

A New Your Court recently (Jan 2016) held that when a rent controlled unit is rented at above the rent controlled price by the tenant, that the rent control tenant has violated the rent control laws and used the property for an illegal purpose.  THAT constitutes grounds for a “for cause” eviction of the rent controlled tenant. In this particular case, the $6,000 rent-controlled monthly price, penthouse apartment (that was worth $9,000 a month) was being AirBNB’d out by the tenant for a LOT of money. A lot more than the rent-controlled price.  The tenant was “rent-gouging.”

San Francisco, that bastion of low-rent housing (not), is suffering from both AirBNB rent-gouging tenants and ferocious rent control laws.

So, here’s the thing. “Rent gouging” (charging more to an AirBNB renter than the tenant pays a landlord) is NOT a violation of SF’s rent control ordinance!  (That sucks, by the way.  I’m just sayin…)

But there just might be justice in the wind.

To rent ANY unit in SF under AirBNB (again, it or any other short term rental enterprise) one must comply with SF’s “short term rental registration law” – which among other things requires the “landlord” (or the tenant, acting as a landlord to an AirBNB short term renter) to pay a short-term rental tax! (You just know SF wanted it’s cut of the action…)  If one does not register the unit, it cannot – lawfully – be rented out via AirBNB.

An owner who discovers a miscreant tenant that is re-renting on a short term basis and who is not in compliance, must give a tenant a 30 day notice to “cure” any rent control violation (like an AirBNB sub-lease) – one time.  After that, if the tenant rents (or maybe even lists the unit as available) without having registered it, a Landlord can evict the tenant – “for cause” — for “illegal activity.”  A three day notice to quit.  Non-curable.  Boom, you’re out!

At least, that’s what I think could happen.


Any landlords out there need a lawyer?

(Ya never know unless you ask, right?)