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What to Prepare before the Court Hearing (for Tenants)

Eviction Defense Attorneys in San Francisco, CA

If you’re facing eviction, it’s important to be aware of your rights according to the landlord-tenant law in California. Our San Francisco eviction defense attorneys can evaluate your situation and provide legal assitance in protecting your tenant rights. In San Francisco, there are only 16 just cause (reasons) for eviction. The most common of these are:
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Illegal subletting and other breaches of the lease
  • Creation of a nuisance
  • Removing an illegal in-law unit
  • Owner move-in
  • Ellis Act evictions
Though San Francisco’s Rent Control Ordinance and other laws clearly spell out when and how an eviction is allowed, some owners may try to skirt these regulations. Others may simply lack a clear understanding of the law and their responsibilities to their tenants. If your landlord has given you an eviction notice without just cause, or you believe that the landlord is attempting to wrongfully evict you, our qualified San Francisco eviction defense attorneys can protect your rights as a tenant. Call Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. at 415-991-6078 to consult with our San Francisco real estate attorneys who can review your eviction case and discuss your legal options in California.

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Eviction Defenses in California

A tenant facing eviction for non-payment of rent or violation of the lease or rental agreement may have a defense against eviction actions taken by the landlord.  When attempting to evict a tenant in California, a landlord must comply with all the rules and regulations outlined in the California Code. An experienced San Francisco eviction defense attorney can help you know your rights as a tenant and fight for you against any unlawful eviction actions.  

Improper Eviction Notice

The state law requires landlords to give a written notice first before evicting a tenant. Each state has its requirements for the notice of eviction and the method in which the tenant receives the notice. For instance, if the landlord did not correctly serve or deliver the written notice to the tenant, or did not provide proper notice before filing a court action, the tenant may have a defense to the eviction. The judge would likely dismiss the eviction case, and the landlord would have to start over in the process, beginning with a three-day notice to the tenant. A credible San Francisco eviction defense attorney can help you determine the possible eviction defense that will protect your rights as a tenant. Improper eviction is common and costly. If a landlord loses in court, either on the merits of the case or because of a technical defect in the process, he or she can potentially be liable for the tenant’s losses, plus possible attorney’s fees if the lease or statute provides, and punitive damages. It’s important to process an eviction correctly the first time.  

Wrongful Eviction

Wrongful eviction<span> is extremely costly to the landlord. If the tenant wins, damages may be the difference between the rent the displaced tenant paid and is now paying, multiplied by the number of years he or she would have remained in the apartment, times three, plus potential emotional distress damages and attorney’s fees. Keep in mind that an eviction is a long and complicated process and there may be ways to successfully contest an eviction. At Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C., we will vigorously represent you to get the best outcome.  

Constructive Eviction

If your rental home is in an uninhabitable condition, constructive eviction can take place. In this type of eviction, it is said to create circumstances under which the tenant has been deprived of the full use of the rental property, and has therefore been evicted. Constructive eviction refers to the theory that since the tenant did not receive what was contracted for, the tenant is not obliged to continue paying rent to the landlord. If your landlord does not keep your apartment in good livable condition, then the warranty of habitability will be breached. You may have a claim that the value of your rental property has decreased and that it is not worth all of the rent that your landlord is charging you. For such a defense to be effective, the tenant must provide the landlord with written notice of reasons for the constructive eviction and provide a reasonable amount of time to fix the issues. If the landlord does not solve the problems within a given period, the tenant may move out of the rental property and may not be responsible for the payment of rent.  

Retaliatory Eviction

It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against you because you have engaged in certain activities protected by the law. You may be entitled to damages under the retaliation counterclaim statute if you prove that your landlord threatened to take legal action against you for enforcing your rights. This type of eviction happens when the landlord takes an action against a tenant for acting as a tenant activist. If the landlord evicts the tenant for informing government agencies of code violations, or for requesting that the landlord make repairs to maintain the habitability of the rental property, a retaliatory eviction claim may be a valid defense against an eviction action. If a court decides that the landlord was retaliating, you cannot be evicted.  

Failure of the Landlord to Maintain the Premises

One of the responsibilities of a landlord is to provide tenants with a livable, safe, and secured rental home. This is usually implied in almost every residential lease agreement as a “warranty of habitability”. This means that the rental home must be fit to live in and be free from serious defects that might endanger the health and safety of tenants. Such defects would include a lack of running water, lack of heat in the winter, vermin, or other dangerous pests inside the property. Any one of these could be a valid defense to your eviction. If you are being evicted for non-payment, you will need to prove that your landlord knew about the bad conditions of the residential property before you fell behind or began to withhold your rent. The notice to the landlord must provide the landlord with a sufficient amount of time to fix and accomplish the repair works. If your landlord is unresponsive, you may hire a professional to do the repairs and deduct the expenses from your rental payment. Some states restrict this repair-and-deduct tactic and provide that the cost of the repair must not be more than one month’s rent. Remember, if you are having a landlord-tenant issue, time is always of the essence. It is advisable to seek legal help from a competent eviction defense lawyer in San Francisco to help you fight for your rights against eviction actions.  

Acceptance of Partial Rent Payment

Some tenants violate the lease agreement because of the nonpayment of rent. If the landlord accepts a partial rent payment from the tenant despite the non-compliance with the agreement, then the landlord’s right to evict the tenant can be waived. The landlord could have the tenant sign a written document indicating that partial acceptance on the part of the landlord waives any rights the tenant would otherwise have to claim partial payment. Such waivers are valid in many jurisdictions. It is advisable to consult a reliable eviction defense lawyer in San Francisco to know the state laws regarding payment of partial rent. In most states, when a landlord accepts a partial payment of the rent owed by the tenant, the landlord waives or gives up the right to evict the tenant for the current month the partial rent was paid. On the other hand, some states do permit landlords to accept partial payment of rent without waiving the right to evict the tenant.
Call Our Eviction Defense Attorneys Today!

Facing an eviction case in California? Our San Francisco landlord-tenant lawyers are experienced in resolving landlord-tenant disputes and protecting the rights of landlords and tenants in San Francisco, CA, and the Bay Area. Schedule a consultation with our real estate law firm by calling (415) 991-6078 to get legal help for your California eviction case today.
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