Posts Tagged ‘landlord’

Wow, a Master Tenant Tells KQED He Rents Out Room for More Than Allowed by Rent Control – WTF? Plus, a Simple Solution

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

All right here we go:

In San Francisco, Rooms for $1,000/Month Are Now Scarce - Sam Harnett | April 2, 2014

“Brian Harrigan is on the other side of the equation. He is on the lease of an iconic four-bedroom Victorian in the Lower Haight. He could probably rent the rooms out for as much as $1,500 each, but he doesn’t want to be greedy. At the same time, he said, ‘If I was to rent it out at like $500 I would have hundreds of emails. You would get everyone applying for it, and it wouldn’t be manageable.’ Harrigan recently had a room open up in the apartment and he decided to put it up at $1,000 — about double the rent-controlled rate and $500 below what he could have charged. Even with the inflated price, he received about 50 applications for the one room.”

What what what – the rent for the room is “about double the rent-controlled rate?”

Non non non! You can’t do it that way in SF.

Here are the three rules, IIRC:

1. Total rent paid by the subtenants may not exceed the rent paid by the master tenant to the landlord.

2. Rent paid by subtenants to the master must be proportional to the total rent – so if the rent controlled rate is for a two-bedroom is $1000 per month to the landlord and the master and sub each share 50-50 (like the rooms and everything else are identical) then the rent charged to the sub should be $500, or close enough to $500.

3. The rent paid by the master to the landlord shall be disclosed in writing to the sub before the sub moves in in the first place.

Those are the rules – live it love it learn it.

Now, can a subtenant get back money from the master if the rent charged is deemed to be disproportionate? Hell yes, going back years.

So is it wise to tell KQED how you set the rate for a room in rent-controlled San Francisco if you’re not sure you’re doin it right? No.

So what should master tenants do then? ‘Cause if you advertise a room for $400 a month on craigslist the world will beat a path to your door, right?

Here’s what you do, you figure what the rent should be for a room but you keep it a secret at first. Then you advertise the room at a market rate, $1400, whatever – and that will cut down on the riff-raff, that will avoid a 50-person beauty contest from every state in the nation, right? And then after you pick somebody to be your new roomie, then comes The Reveal, which is actually the rent is only $400 a month are you cool with that. And it will be, I guarantee it.

What’s that, this strategy isn’t for you because ____? Well all right, have it your way. But just make sure* you split the rent proportionally, that’s what I’m saying.

*Heavy is the head what wears the master tenant crown, right? Of course, there are pros and cons to being a master tenant in rent controlled SF – it’s not for everyone. 

1049 Market Street Tenants Win a Reprieve in Their Mass Eviction – Presser at City Hall Today at 4:30 PM

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Word comes from tommi avicolli mecca:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

1049 Market STREET Tenants Win a Reprieve in Their Mass Eviction

San Francisco – Tenants of 1049 Market, who are facing eviction at the hands of a landlord wanting to turn their live/work apartments into office spaces, will be holding a press conference today at 4:30pm on the steps of City Hall (Polk Street side) to announce that they have won another reprieve in their battle to stay in their homes. Their landlord has withdrawn his appeal of the suspension of THE permit that would have allowed him to demolish their apartments and evict them.

The appeal on that suspension was scheduled to be heard today at the Board of Appeals at 5pm.

Officials of the Department of Building Inspections (DBI) suspended the permit after a walk through of the building. DBI officials DETERMINED that they had discretion in requiring the landlord to install light wells, a very expensive renovation, to fix a major code violation cited in a 2007 Notice of Violation: the lack of natural light in some of the apartments. Other violations are minor and can be easily addressed by the owner.

Tenants received eviction notices last September, but with the help of Housing Rights Committee, legal support from Tenderloin Housing Clinic and the involvement of Supervisor Jane Kim and DBI, they organized to stay in their homes and fight back.

“It’s a clear victory for us tenants,” said 1049 Market resident Marcele Wilson, “This is about evicting working-class tenants and artists so that they can convert our apartments into offices and cash in on the mid-Market tech boom. But these are our homes, we’re not leaving.”

Tenants will be on hand for interviews today at 4:30pm.”

Uh Oh, Now There’s a Lawsuit Against the City for Recent Ellis Act Legislation – SFAA & realtors Fighting Us

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Read it and weep, San Francisco. We’re getting sued:

“For Immediate Release, January 29, 2014:

San Francisco Housing Associations File Lawsuit to Block Anti-Family Legislation

San Francisco – On Tuesday January 28, 2014, the San Francisco Apartment Association, Coalition for Better Housing and the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of legislation known as the Avalos Ellis Act and Merger Prohibition Legislation.

 The legislation was passed by the Board of Supervisors and signed into law by Mayor Ed Lee in violation of building owners’ rights under the state law known as the Ellis Act.

 The legislation prohibits owners of multi-unit buildings from combining units in a building for ten years following an Ellis Act eviction or for five years following an owner-move in eviction.

 On a practical level, the legislation prevents families who own a building from creating a home that meets their needs. For example, the legislation prevents a family from combining two small units into a larger one to provide a home for a growing family. Couples with young children often find themselves in need of additional space they did not anticipate when they purchased a rental building, yet the legislation punishes them.

 Only 2 percent of new housing built in San Francisco since 2001 are single-family homes that provide adequate space for families, often with multiple generations living together. Lack of adequate housing to meet the needs of families has contributed San Francisco losing 5,278 people younger than 18 between 2000 and 2010, according to the census.

 “The San Francisco Association of REALTORS® supports the rights of private property owners for the free use of their property as their needs suit them.  This legislation only exacerbates the problems families face in finding adequate housing and drives out the families that have created the diversity we want and celebrate in our city,” said Walt Baczkowski, CEO of the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

 Because so few single family homes are being constructed, families rely on improving buildings they own, including tenancies in common to add living space. This legislation prohibits them from creating the home they need in a building they own.

 “Families are fleeing San Francisco due to a multitude of reasons that include a lack of adequate space for growing families that often include multiple generations. This legislation exacerbates that problem by punishing and limiting options for families who simply seek to create a home that meets the needs of their family,” stated Janan New, Executive Director of the San Francisco Apartment Association. “This legislation punishes hard working families, while doing little to protect renters.”

 The lawsuit states that the legislation is pre-empted by state law known as the Ellis Act, which allows building owners to take a building off the rental market and convert those units to condominiums or single -family homes. Under the law, building owners are already required to give occupants up to one year advance notice and provide relocation fees of $5,210 per tenant, up to a maximum of $15,632, plus $3,473 additional for tenants who are senior or disabled.

 “My clients are seeking relief from this just-passed legislation which unfairly takes away the right of individuals and families who simply want to create a home for themselves and their family in a building they own,” stated Jim Parrinello, attorney for the plaintiffs.

MUNI’s 83X “Twitterloin Express” Service Begins Today – From CalTrain to the Corrupt Twitterloin and Back

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Sixteen months ago:

Prospective Twitter Landlord Gave Newsom Rent Deal

Today:

“Here it is- the first run of the new “twitter line”. Guess how many people on board?! pic.twitter.com/YSezC2GF

From the CalTrain Station to Twitter and back again

So the lesson is this: If you have influence with former Mayor Gavin Newsom and he thinks you can help him fulfill his dream of becoming President of these United States, then maybe you’ll get your own bus line.

Hurray.

Oh, and do you think that this M-F bus line will cost less to operate than it costs to employ just one MUNI employee?

I don’t. But that’s what MUNI is saying

Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ: More Money Laundering Found in Ed Lee Campaign – Meet CitiApartments’ “Eviction Goon”

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

[UPDATE: Senator Leland Yee is on the case this AM - he's doing a presser involving this latest allegation. (I guess it's too late to call this an October Surprise, and frankly, it's not all that surprising neither. Let's call it a November Expectation. Brace yourself for more.) Oh, and Leland is onto some Chinatown voting sting operation as well.

And there's this: "Statement from Chiu Campaign on Money Laundering Allegations - SAN FRANCISCO (November 2, 2011): Addisu Demissie, spokesman for the David Chiu for Mayor campaign, released the following statement about a San Francisco Chronicle report of potential money laundering by supporters of Mayor Ed Lee:

"This is now the fourth allegation of illegal conduct by Mayor Lee's supporters, and it should be investigated fully by the District Attorney and appropriate authorities,” Demissie said. “With six days to go before Election Day, it will be up to the voters to decide whether this kind of bullying, pay-to-play politics is what they want to see at City Hall for the next 4 years. David is going to spend the last 6 days of this race talking about why he represents a new generation of leadership for San Francisco that will stand tough against the special interests and shake things up at City Hall."

Paid for by David Chiu for Mayor 2011, P.O. Box 641541, San Francisco, CA 94164, FPPC##1337108]

Well, it looks like early-rising City Attorney Dennis Jose Herrera is the first one out of the gates to follow up on today’s piece from San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writers John Coté and Heather Knight.

Testify, DJH:

“Too many of Ed Lee’s supporters act as though they’re above the law — on money laundering, on ballot tampering, and more – and Ed Lee isn’t strong enough to stop it.

Amen.

Earlier this year, Ed Lee was picked unanimously to be an Interim Mayor. He wasn’t picked to be a Reformer. He’ll never be a Reformer.

In Ed Lee’s world, the notorious Willie Brown Administration deserves an A+, Rose Pak is not a cancer on Chinatown, and corner-cutting PG&E (“KABOOM!“) is simply “a great local corporation” and a “great company that gets it.”

Oh well.

Is Ed Lee Breaking Bad? Has the City Family corrupted him? Or has he corrupted the City Family? A little of both?

Click to expand

All the deets:

“Herrera calls on FPPC to join D.A. in investigating new Ed Lee campaign money laundering charge - CitiApartments’ former eviction goon led reimbursement-for-donation scheme, suggesting political payback for City Attorney’s 2006 tenant-protection lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 2, 2011) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera this morning called on the state Fair Political Practices Commission to join District Attorney George Gascón in reviewing new allegations reported in today’s San Francisco Chronicle that Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign received donations that appear to have been illegally laundered to skirt San Francisco $500 per donor contribution maximum.[1] Andrew Hawkins, a property services manager whose harrowing tenant intimidation tactics were central to Herrera’s lawsuit five years ago against the Lembi Group landlords’ once high-rolling CitiApartments empire, promised reimbursements to at least sixteen employees in exchange for maximum contributions to Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign at an Oct. 18, 2011 fundraiser, according to the Chronicle.

It is the second major allegation of campaign money laundering to benefit Ed Lee’s campaign. The first, involving GO Lorrie’s airport shuttle, is the subject of separate investigations by Gascón’s office and the FPPC, the state commission responsible to investigate and impose penalties for violations of the California Political Reform Act. Such schemes have been prosecuted as felonies in California for conspiring to evade campaign contribution limits, and for making campaign contributions under false names.

I think San Franciscans have now seen enough,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “Too many of Ed Lee’s supporters act as though they’re above the law — on money laundering, on ballot tampering, and more — and Ed Lee isn’t strong enough to stop it. If this is how they behave before an election, just imagine how they’ll behave after the election, if Ed Lee wins. This scheme is clearly a bid for political payback by CitiApartments henchmen for my litigation to protect tenants five years ago. It is patently illegal, and I call on the FPPC to join the District Attorney in investigating.”

Hawkins is listed in Ed Lee’s campaign disclosures as the owner of Archway Property Services. As the one-time head of CitiApartments’ “tenant relocation program,” the gun-carrying Hawkins is reported to have coerced more than 2,500 tenants out of their rent-controlled units, and once boasted in civil court testimony, “I run people out of their apartments for a living. It’s what I do.

Several recipients of Hawkins’ email invitation to an Oct. 18 event on Russian Hill made contributions to Ed Lee’s campaign on the same date. All contributed the maximum $500.

Herrera sued the CitiApartments residential rental property behemoth in Aug. 2006 for an array of unlawful business and tenant harassment practices, which sought to dispossess long-term residents of their rent-controlled apartments. The coerced vacancies freed the company to make often-unpermitted renovations to units, and then re-rent them to new tenants at dramatically increased market rates. The illegal business model enabled CitiApartments, Skyline Realty and other entities under the sway of real estate family patriarch Frank Lembi to aggressively outbid competitors for residential properties throughout San Francisco for several years — before lawsuits and a sharp economic downturn forced the aspiring empire into bankruptcies, foreclosures and receiverships.

A 2009 San Francisco Magazine feature story on the Lembi real estate empire[2] described Andrew Hawkins as “a burly former nightclub bouncer who headed up CitiApartments’ relocation program.” Hawkins reportedly led teams as large as 14 full-time employees, according to the report, and the company estimated that “Hawkins relocated more than 2,500 tenants.” An earlier exposé in 2006 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian[3] cited civil court testimony in which Hawkins boasted to one tenant’s family member, “I run people out of their apartments for a living. It’s what I do.”

# # #

SOURCES:
[1] Source: “Ed Lee donors face money-laundering allegations” by John Coté and Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 2, 2011, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/02/MNKJ1LOMB7.DTL
[2] Source: “War of values” by Danelle Morton, San Francisco Magazine, Nov. 19, 2009, http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/war-of-values
[3] Source: “The Scumlords: Part One of a Three-Part Series” by G.W. Schulz, San Francisco Bay Guardian, March 8, 2006, http://www.sfbg.com/40/23/news_skyline.html

Why Does the San Francisco Rent Board Need to Advertise Itself on the Back of SFMTA MUNI Buses?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I hope this ad was for free (because nobody else in the world wants to pay to advertise on this particular bus and the space would go to waste otherwise?).

Hey SFGOV, if you wanted to advertise something, how about the minimum wage in the 415? Lots of people don’t seem to know that one yet.

Anyway, it’s your San Francisco Rent Board. Hurray!

Click to expand

San Francisco Rent Board

San Francisco Rent Board 8 AM – 5 PM,
25 Van Ness Ave., Suite 320 Monday – Friday excluding holidays
San Francisco, CA 94102-6033 Phone: 415-252-4602
(Cross street is Market Street) Fax: 415-252-4699

Senior Staff:

Executive Director Delene Wolf
Deputy Director Robert Collins
Senior Administrative Law Judges Sandy Gartzman and Tim Lee
Rent Board Supervisor Jennifer Rakowski

Counseling: Drop-in
Due to limited staffing, we do not have the capacity to respond to inquiries by email. However, Rent Board counselors are available at the Rent Board’s office from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM each working day. Due to high demand and a limited number of staff, there can sometimes be delays in speaking with a counselor. Counseling sessions at the office are generally limited to 10 minutes.

Phone Counseling – 415-252-4602:
You can receive personal assistance by phone during phone counseling hours, which are 9:00 AM – Noon and 1:00 – 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday, excluding holidays. Because of demand, calls may be limited to 5 minutes. It is helpful if you have your questions written down before you speak with a counselor.

Info-to-Go – 415-252-4600:
Call our 24-hour Info-to-Go phone system to hear automated information on over 80 topics of interest to tenants and landlords. All of the recordings are available in English, Spanish and Chinese. Use the Info-to-Go Table of Contents (pdf) to facilitate your call and access the most relevant information. Printed versions of the Info-to-Go topics are also available on our website and through our Fax Back system.
Fax Back – 415-252-4660:

To obtain copies of the Rent Ordinance, Rules and Regulations, Rent Board forms and other printed information, you can download them from our web site or call our 24-hour Fax Back system and have the documents automatically faxed to you within minutes. Use the Fax Back Table of Contents (pdf) to locate the documents you want to fax yourself. Many of our forms and documents are available through the Fax Back system in Spanish and Chinese.

Other Important Phone Numbers:
Administrative Offices Only 415-252-4601
TTY 415-554-9845
Rent Board Hearing Coordinator 415-252-4629
Rent Board Appeals Clerk 415-252-4644
Duplication Requests and File Review 415-252-4661

Multiple Language Assistance:
We have bilingual staff in the following languages: Spanish and Cantonese. We also have a telephonic language line interpretation service available in 20 languages for limited English speakers who visit our office. Our 24-hour automated telephone information line (Info-to-Go) is available in Spanish and Chinese. In addition, many of our forms and documents are available in Spanish and Chinese through our Website and Fax Back system.
The Rent Board staff does not provide translation services at hearings or mediations. However, if you are unable to afford the services of an interpreter, you can file a Hardship Application for interpreter services and the Rent Board will hire an interpreter for you. Hardship applications for interpreter services can be obtained at the Rent Board’s office and must be filed at least 72 hours before the hearing or mediation. American sign language interpreters are also available upon 72 hours request.

Website: www.sfgov.org/rentboard
Our comprehensive website offers users 24-hour access to printable versions of: agendas and minutes of the Rent Board Commission’s meetings; monthly and annual statistical reports; the San Francisco Rent Ordinance; the Rent Board’s Rules and Regulations; the Uniform Hotel Visitor Policy; over 80 topics of interest to landlords and tenants; 10 in-depth Fact Sheets on major landlord/tenant issues; Rent Board petitions and other forms; news and announcements; our customer survey, and more. Many of our forms and documents are available on our website in Spanish and Chinese.

Stow Lake Boathouse Judgment Day is Finally Upon Us – Listen In at 2:00 PM as the “Historic Snack Bar” Gets Terminated

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Terminated with extreme prejudice, that is.

I don’t know man, I’ve seen more than my fair share of NIMBY groups and hysterical societies in the 415 over the years, but the absurdly-named Save Stow Lake campaign is, without a doubt, the worst in recent history.

See the NIMBYs  go down in flames starting at 2:00 PM (at the earliest, tonight’s meeting could be a long one) at the SFGTV.

Click to expand, yah?

Here’s a mini photo essay and here are all the deets.

Artist’s conception of the Stow Lake boat repair facility, post-termination. It will be a cafe soon:

Recreation and Park Commission to Approve New Vendor at Stow Lake Boathouse December 2nd, or Soon Thereafter

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Appears as if there’ll be some changes coming to Golden Gate Park’s Stow Lake Boathouse – our Board of Rec and Park will vote on the matter on December 2nd, 2010, anyway.

Check out the PowerPoint and the new lease if you want.

(The phrase “pink popcorn” is used three times, IIRC)

Out with the boat repair room and in with a cafe:

Click to expand

All the deets:

“On December 2, 2010, the Recreation and Park Commission will consider approving a Lease with Ortega Family Enterprises, doing business as Stow Lake Boathouse, LLC for the lease and operation of the Stow Lake Boathouse. The Commission meeting will be in City Hall Room 416 and will begin at 2:00 PM.

The lease is available for review on the Department’s website by following the link below.

Lease
http://sfrecpark.org/documents/Ortega_Stow_Lake_Lease.pdf

To review the Department’s Presentation from recent Community Meetings regarding Stow Lake, please follow the link below.
http://sfrecpark.org/documents/Presentation_of_Ortega_Proposal_and_Lease.pdf

LEASE
between
CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, Landlord
and
Ortega Family Enterprises
dba
Stow Lake Boathouse, LLC. Lessee
For the Lease and Management of
the Stow Lake Boathouse
in
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California
November 22, 2010
CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO RECREATION and PARK COMMISSION
Mark Buell, President
Tom Harrison, Vice President
Gloria Bonilla, Commissioner
David E. Lee, Commissioner
Meagan Levitan, Commissioner
Lawrence Martin, Commissioner
Philip A. Ginsburg, General Manager

CitiApartments Pwned by City Attorney Dennis Herrera – $50K in Penalties for Obfuscation, Delay

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Our three-term City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera has just released the news about how San Francisco recently won a little compensation to pay for all the extra work it’s doing to bring poorly-rated CitiApartments / Skyline Realty* to justice. Keep in mind that these penalties are not to punish (’cause that part will come later). No, no, this $50K is just to pay us back for the extra expenses we recently incurred due to relentless foot-dragging from the infamous Lembi Family et alia.

Poor Judge Munter had to spend half of the hearing deciding how to divvy up the penalties among all the interrelated defendants. Oh well.

Read all about it here, or below.

San Francisco’s Happy Warrior: His middle name is Jose, his son speaks Mandarin Chinese and he’s been working on gay legal issues for donkey’s years, at least since the 1990′s - do you think all that might help him if he decides to run for Mayor in 2011?

Pwned:

Herrera wins Court sanctions against CitiApartments for “obfuscation, delay.” Landlords’ defiance in the face of City Attorney’s ‘Herculean efforts’ triggers order to cooperate with discovery, pay $50K sanction

SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 2, 2010) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera has won Court-ordered sanctions against a labyrinthine web of defendants involved in the operation of CitiApartments and Skyline Realty, the residential property management and investment behemoth Herrera first sued in 2006 for its stunning array of unlawful business practices.  The order, which was signed by San Francisco Superior Court Judge John E. Munter last month and obtained this morning, compels each of the two-dozen corporate, trust and individual defendants currently named in the suit to respond to discovery requests in compliance with rules of civil procedure, and to pay sanctions to the City totaling $50,129.50, which reflects San Francisco’s fees and costs to pursue its motion to compel.  Munter’s order requires all of the defendants to comply with the order by Feb. 19, 2010.

“CitiApartments deserved to be sanctioned for its continued defiance in this case, and I’m gratified to Judge Munter for calling these tactics exactly what they are — ‘obfuscation, delay and meritless objections,’” said Herrera.  “I hope this sanction sends a message to Frank Lembi, Walter Lembi and all of the defendants responsible for CitiApartments’ lawless conduct that there is a limit to judicial patience, and they’ve reached it.  This has been a long, difficult case to address what is perhaps the most egregious corruption of San Francisco’s residential housing market in modern history.  We remain committed to pursuing this case aggressively, and I hope these sanctions are a tipping point that hastens our progress toward a just outcome.”

All the gritty nitty, after the jump.

*Let me tell you something here, whenever you’re paying your monthly rent to “LSL Property Holdings II DE LLC” or something, don’t be surprised when you have trouble getting your deposit back. This case is a morass. Anywho, your defendants:

“Skyline Realty Inc., Citiapartments Inc., Citi Funding Group Inc., Citisuites LLC, Lembi Group Inc., Lembi Group Partners LLC, Urban Property Management, Inc., Citiwide Rentals, Inc., Frank Lembi, Walter Lembi, David Raynal, Taylor Lembi, Frank Lembi As Trustee Of The Frank E. Lembi Survivor’s Trust Dated February 17, 1984, As Restated On June 2, 1999, Frank Lembi, As Trustee Of The Olga Lembi Residual Trust Created Under The Provisions Of Part Three Of The Lembi Family Trust Dated February 17, 1984, Walter Lembi, As Trustee Of The Walter And Linda Lembi Family Trust Dated June 30, 2004, David Raynal, As Trustee Of The David M. Raynal Revocable Trust Dated May 9, 2002, 737 Pine DE LLC, 737 Pine B10 DE LLC, 737 Pine B10 Mezz DE LLC, 1155 LLC, Gaylord Hotel LLC, LSL Properties B14 DE LLC, LSL Property Holdings II DE LLC, LSL Property Holdings II Mezz LLC, Nob Hill Tower DE LLC, Nob Hill Tower Mezz DE LLC, Prime Apartment Properties LLC, Prime Apartment Properties B10 DE LLC, Prime Apartment Properties B10 Mezz DE LLC, Trophy Properties B10 DE LLC, Trophy Properties IV DE LLC, Trophy Properties IV B8A LLC, Trophy Properties IV Mezz DE LLC, Trophy Properties V LLC, Trophy Properties V DE LLC, Trophy Properties VI LLC, Trophy Properties IV B8A Manager LLC.”

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Revenge of the Subtenant – Rent Board Requires Master Tenant to Refund $10,800

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Here’s the thing – if you’re renting a place in San Francisco and you’re paying your monthly rent to your roommate, chances are that you could be considered a subtenant and your roomy the “Master Tenant.”* Particularly when the rent for your unit is way undermarket, due to rent control let’s say, you might end up spending more for your space than the Master pays for the Master’s part of the apartment.

So if you’re paying $900 a month for your half of  a two-bedroom and your Master Tenant in the other room is only kicking in $100 (to pay $1000 total to the landlord for the whole place), then you can take steps to get some of that money back and lower your rent to boot.

“A subtenant who believes he or she is paying more than a proportional share of the total rent may file a Tenant Petition against the master tenant on that basis. If the subtenant prevails, the Administrative Law Judge will adjust the rent to the proportional share and order the master tenant to refund any rent overpayments.”

Is this a perfect system? No, but it’s what you end up with when your city has rent control.

Your San Francisco Rent Board just dealt with a subtenant/Master Tenant proportionality case. The names of the people involved aren’t important, but the situation is noteworthy, IMO. Let’s check it out.

Now, if you don’t like how the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dealt with your case with your roomie, you can appeal to the board. As here, from the meeting of August 4, 2009:

The subtenant’s petition alleging that he paid a disproportional share of the rent pursuant to Rules ß6.15C(3) was granted and the Master Tenant was found liable to the subtenant in the amount of $10,800.00. On appeal, the Master Tenant alleges that he was unaware of the requirement that the amount of rent paid must be proportional; that the decision will present him with a financial hardship; and that the subtenant is going to be evicted due to his uncooperative behavior. 

MSC: To deny the appeal on substantive grounds but remand the case for a hearing on the Master Tenant’s claim of financial hardship. (Gruber/Crow: 5-0)”

See? The sub won big-time, to the tune of five figures because the rent split determined by the Master Tenant wasn’t proportional according to a judge and the full board.

But the master came back to say the ruling would be a hardship for him. From the meeting of November 17, 2009:

The subtenant’s petition alleging that he paid a disproportionate share of the rent was granted and the Master Tenant was found liable to the subtenant in the amount of $10,800.00.  The Master Tenant’s hardship appeal was granted and remanded for hearing.  In the remand decision, the ALJ finds sufficient hardship to order a repayment plan in the amount of $150.00 per month.  The Master Tenant again appeals, claiming that even the reduced amount will cause him severe hardship and possibly result in both tenants’ eviction from the premises.

MSC: To deny the appeal.  (Mosbrucker/Gruber:  5-0)”

Is this what you might call a Phyric victory? Maybe. It’s probably too early to tell. Oh well.  

Check the San Francisco Rent Board website for deets on the rules, or see you after the jump.

*The County of Los Angeles doesn’t want to buy equipment that has the term “master” written anywhere on it, like on a hard drive, a DVD burner or a brake cylinder. But in San Francisco, we freely label people “Master Tenants.” It’s our thing. 

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