Recent Use of Constructive Eviction in San Francisco Illustrates Heightened Use to Alter Renter/Landlord Relationship, States

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Recently a San Francisco landlord implemented a significant rent increase at a formerly rent controlled property in order to raise rental values as well as force renters out. (1) Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: "The use of constructive evictions is a complicated legal tool that can work both in favor of the tenant and against the tenant and the recent San Francisco incident highlights increased use of constructive evictions to alter existing legal tenant-landlord relationships such as with rent-controlled properties."

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Constructive eviction can be a challenging topic and the very complexity of this issue strongly suggests that a landlord or property manager work with a third-party tenant screening company.

Recently, a San Francisco landlord evicted a tenant via constructive evictions by rent increase subsequently sparking controversy as well as highlighting recent efforts to get around rent-control on a given property. Converting a multi-unit property to a single family unit, along with a substantive rent increase, is one such way.

From (March 16, 2015):

The state Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act exempts single-family homes and condominiums built before 1979 from rent-ceiling limitation protections granted by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. Landlords argue that if an in-law unit is demolished, the unit becomes a single-family home and rent control does not apply. It’s called a constructive eviction by rent increase, said Joseph Tobener, a tenants-rights attorney at the Tobener Law Center. (2)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: "The incident in San Francisco highlights the increased use of constructive evictions. Constructive evictions can be very complicated and will certainly affect a renter’s eviction history. Landlords and property managers should be aware of this type of eviction as they appear on tenant checks."

Constructive evictions are legal tools utilized to change a contractual arrangement between a landlord/property manager and a tenant(s).

From Constructive Eviction is defined as follows: (No date provided)

…Occurs when a landlord does not physically or legally evict a tenant, but takes actions that interfere with the tenant's use and enjoyment of the premises significantly. Constructive eviction can occur as a result of the landlord's breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment if (1) the landlord substantially interferes with the tenant's use and enjoyment of the premises by his actions or failure to act to resolve a problem; (2) the tenant gives the landlord notice of the problem and the landlord fails to respond and resolve the problem; and (3) the tenant vacates the premises in a reasonable amount of time after the landlord fails to resolve the problem. (3)

Constructive Eviction is a complicated matter and one that can be pursued both by landlord or tenant.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: "When a landlord does not respond to a request to keep a property habitable the tenant has the opportunity of constructive eviction. There is a so-called covenant of quiet enjoyment. A tenant has a legal expectation of habitability to their living environment."

It is critical that renters can be affected by constructive eviction in a negative way, one that could affect their rental aspirations.

While constructive eviction can be used by unscrupulous landlords bent on significant increases in rental values, the process can also occur when a property becomes uninhabitable due to a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake or fire and the landlord cannot provide or afford repair to the rental unit and may allow a tenant to break lease. (4) Constructive eviction, in this instance, can provide some protection to tenants.

From the Washington Post: (Mar. 19, 15)

Generally speaking, if there is a written lease that calls for the tenant to pay rent and the tenant fails to pay, a court will enter a judgment for the landlord. One of the few reasons a court will excuse the tenant’s obligation to pay rent is that the property is rendered uninhabitable. (5)

Almeida states: "In light of the recent San Francisco situation landlords and property managers should work with a third-party tenant screening company in order to thoroughly understand the process as it affects new rental applicants as well as its appearance on any records or through verifications." is a third-party tenant screening company that offers thorough, affordable, and secure tenant background checks for property managers large and small. is fully compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations that enforce the tenant screening industry. They are also a proud member of NAPBS.



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