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San Francisco Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Landlord Tenant Law

Landlord Tenant Lawyer in San Francisco, CA

Landlord-tenant law is growing ever more complex and when a dispute arises over such matters the financial stakes are high. Whether you are a property owner, a renter, or a commercial tenant, you need strong and experienced representation from a landlord tenant lawyer to protect your interests. Since we represent both landlords and tenants, we can provide a balanced and objective perspective – something which attorneys who only represent one side often are unable to do.

Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. is a team of aggressive landlord-tenant experts. We provide results-oriented representation in cases involving:

  • Evictions — Including no-fault and fault-based cases.
  • Rent control disputes — In San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward and other Bay Area cities.
  • Habitability issues — Disputes involving structural integrity, safety, and health conditions.
  • Wrongful Eviction — Disputes regarding illegal termination of tenancy, eviction notices, and “self-help” eviction.
  • Commercial landlord-tenant disputes — Late payment and non-payment of rent, property damage and breach of contract.
  • Short-term rental issues — Subleases and Airbnb and VRBO rentals.
  • Buy-Outs
  • Defense against tenant lawsuits – Including discrimination and disability claims.

Schedule a consultation with our San Franscisco landlord-tenant and real estate attorneys by calling 415-991-6078 to get legal help resolving residential and commercial property disputes.

Real Estate Disputes?

Whether you're dealing with a landlord-tenant dispute or addressing a real estate concern in California, our San Francisco real estate attorneys are here to protect your rights.

Landlord Representation in San Francisco, CA

Complications to owner move-in situations are a common legal dispute that we are asked to handle. An owner may spend $800,000 to buy a home, but the property is not truly in the owner’s possession until the tenants have moved out. Eviction law is murky and complex and must be followed to the letter. Our attorneys work with owners to ensure that they follow the law so they can use their property without unnecessary disputes. We consult with buyers before the purchase, as well.

Sometimes, an existing tenant won’t move out. We assist owners with their eviction/unlawful detainer cases in court. Our attorneys also litigate cases for breach of lease or recovery of rent, as well as nuisance and Ellis Act matters.

Tenant Rights Lawyer in San Francisco, CA

In San Francisco and other cities in the Bay Area tenants may sue the owner on a number of grounds. Our lawyers help tenants bring claims in cases involving wrongful evictions and habitability. We also represent those who have suffered rental discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, family size, or source of income.

Landlord-Tenant Law

In California, landlord and tenant laws include the obligations and rights of both the landlord and tenant relating to the leased property. Both the landlord and tenant should know the fundamental laws of renting a property, such as collecting rent or paying rent and deposits, the California state laws and federal law about housing discrimination, and more. 

If you’re a landlord, you need to understand how to calculate tax payments or deal with tenant eviction due to unpaid rent. A tenant, on the other hand, must understand their rights to tenant safety, repayment of security deposits, or whether they can lease the property to a subtenant. 

Here, we will explain the basics of landlord-tenant laws that both landlord and tenant should know.

Lease Agreement

When the property is rented, the lease agreement describes the relationship between landlord and tenant. Having a lease agreement is essential because it protects both the landlord and the tenant’s rights.

A basic lease agreement should include:

  • The names of the landlord and tenant(s)
  • Address and details of the leased property
  • The amount of rent and when the rent should be paid every month
  • The amount of security deposit
  • Certain conditions, such as a “no-pet policy”

What it should NOT include:

  • Discrimination against certain tenants (e.g., excluding a tenant based on race, religion, or gender). 
  • Waiver of tenant’s right to sue a landlord (adding a clause in the agreement indicating that the tenant can’t press charges against the landlord)
  • Waiver of tenant’s right to refund the deposit (excluding cleaning and repair costs)

A rental agreement (lease agreement for short-term rentals) is also known as a short-term lease agreement. This agreement is usually for 30-day rental periods, while a lease agreement is for long-term rentals (one year or more).

Security Deposit

For most rental properties, landlords require a tenant to give a security deposit before moving in. In California, security deposits are limited to two months’ worth of rent.

Unlike your last month’s rent payment, the security deposit should be paid back in full, unless there are repair and cleaning costs that need to be paid. If a tenant is required to pay the deposit, there should be a clause in the lease agreement that outlines the exact condition of the property to avoid misunderstandings and dispute at the end of the lease.

Aside from cleaning and repairs, landlords may also deduct unpaid rent from the security deposit. Changes in the rental property that are considered as normal wear and tear can’t be deducted from the deposit. If a landlord has to deduct payments from the deposit, they must provide a detailed list of the damages and repair and cleaning costs. 

If you need help with landlord-tenant laws, or if you’re having issues with your lease agreement, call Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. at 415-562-0504. Our experienced San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyers can provide legal assistance regarding your landlord-tenant matter.

Real Estate Disputes?

Whether you're dealing with a landlord-tenant dispute or addressing a real estate concern in California, our San Francisco real estate attorneys are here to protect your rights.


Tenant Rights

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against tenants based on their color, religion, race, age, gender, disability, and sometimes, familial status. If you also have a service animal, such as a guide dog, a landlord cannot refuse leasing a property to you based solely on a “no pets policy.” Other tenant rights include:

  • The right to undisturbed living
  • The right to a habitable home
  • The right to a certain level of privacy (e.g., a landlord can’t barge in your house

Landlord-tenant relationships aren’t supposed to be complicated, but sometimes certain issues arise. If you’re having trouble with your landlord, call our San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyers at 415-562-0504 right away.

Landlord Rights

A landlord also has certain legal rights that are mainly about the protection of their property and investment. For instance, landlords may require tenants to give payments for utility bills aside from the monthly payment of rent if it is specified in the lease agreement. 

A landlord also have the right to evict tenants. For instance, a tenant fails to pay rent at the specified date. They may opt to evict the tenant, provided that the landlord gives a proper eviction notice to the tenant.

Creative Solutions To Landlord-Tenant Disputes

At Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. we work hard to achieve positive solutions to challenging landlord-tenant disputes. We often use negotiation, mediation, or arbitration to achieve optimal results for our clients in a cost-effective manner. However, we do not hesitate to go to court to protect our clients’ rights when necessary.

Call Our Landlord Tenant Lawyer Today!

Call Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. at 415-562-0504 or send us an email to schedule a consultation with our San Francisco landlord tenant law firm about your landlord-tenant matter in San Francisco, CA and the SF Bay Area.

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“The truth is, 99 percent of cases do not go to trial. The two sides eventually come to an agreement and settle. We know this from the thousands of cases we have handled. Therefore, we critically analyze our client’s situation to see if we can help them find an agreement earlier rather than later. The difference will mean enormous savings in time and legal fees.

We will do everything in our power to successfully resolve your landlord-tenant case or real estate dispute in as little time as possible. We have the resources to take on complex real estate cases and the size to keep you from becoming more than just a case file.”

Steven Adair MacDonald
& Partners, P.C.



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San Francisco, California 94102
United States


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