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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 112777
Experience:  Attorney with over 24 years experience.
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I'm still typing it up, but the short version is: I got a

Customer Question

I'm still typing it up, but the short version is: I got a three day notice to quit based on "Creation of a nuisance or substantial interference with the landlord or other tenants in the building" and I need to know what to do about it.
JA: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: California
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: I don't know. The notice was just delivered to me. The CCs are to "Clients" and "S.F.R.R.S.A.B.". The latter doesn't sound like a court, but maybe it's the SF Rent Board or something?
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No, I guess not.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The owners don't live in the building; they live in Arizona. There is another tenant in the downstairs unit (who share a garage with us), but as far as I know they've never complained about us.The owners have been unsubtly hinting that they want me to leave, and harassing me in various ways, for a few years now. I think it's ultimately want to be substitute parents rather than landlords and don't like that I won't play along. I suspect that what's made them change to trying to evict me instead is that they're thinking of selling the house (they've told me as much, twice), and it's harder to sell if there's a tenant with years of rent control in place.Anyway, what do I do? Should I get a lawyer? (Do I have to wait until Monday to do so? How do I find a good one?) Or go to the SF Tenants Union tomorrow? Or the Rent Board on Monday? Should I file a Report of Wrongful Eviction as well as fighting the eviction itself?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
One more thing: The person I was chatting with who sent me to the sign-in page told me there would be a $5 fee. But I was billed $40, and signed up for a recurring $50/month, rather than $5. What do I do about that?
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Hello. I’m a family lawyer, former trial lawyer and appellate attorney with 36 years’ experience and also have extensive experience with landlord-tenant issues. I look forward to helping you today.

At the end of our discussion I’m going to ask you to rate me, okay? I’d appreciate it because this is the only way we get credit for our time here today. It is at no extra cost to you.

Please note:This is general information for educational purposes and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an attorney on this site. You are advised to retain your own attorney.

If I’m back not here right away, I’m typing my answer. Thanks!

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK. But what happened to the other lawyer who it said it was connecting me with, who I just spent 10 minutes reading ratings and reviews for?
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

First, let me work in reverse order -- as far as any money issues, you would have to take that up with customer service. We are lawyers here and do not get involved with the financial aspects. We are all independent contractors and have no say in the finances here.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK, I'll contact them separately. Thanks.
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

You spoke with someone from customer service to start this question. Did they say they were a lawyer? You may has assumed they were but you probably spoke with someone in customer service so that we would get the information from customer service and know what the question was about. Is this what happened or did you actually speak with an attorney?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
No, they were not an attorney, or at least they never said they were or gave me any such impression. They told me they'd connect me to a lawyer after I paid the $5 fee.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
You're the first attorney I've spoken to. But the site showed me a different specific attorney I was being connected to, implausibly named "Alex Esquire, Esq.", and there were links to ratings and past questions for him, and "real estate law" was his listed specialty, so I was asking why I got connected to a different one.
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Oh okay, that's what I thought. You had to explain the situation to customer service because they would know how to categorize this -- as a legal question or a family law question, etc. and also since there are many JA services, they would need to know it was for the lawyers, i.e. us, and we'd need to know what it was about before we decide to take the question.

Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

No problem, you may specifically ask for Alex, Esquire and if that is what you want to do, no problem and I will opt out.

Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

You would have to specifically ask for him. You can let customer service know that you are looking for Alex Esq. to answer your question. Okay?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
If you can answer my question, that's fine. I'm just not happy with the way the site works; if you're just an independent contractor working through them, I guess you have nothing to do with that.
Expert:  FamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

We are all independent contractors here. I'll opt out because you were looking for Alex Esq. so I don't want to take his question. Best of luck to you. If you want additional information at any time, I've been licensed for 36 years and have done extensive landlord-tenant work, so if you want to get a second opinion, I'll be happy to do that for you. Make sure to ask customer service when you ask about the fees.

I will leave a note here to let the other attorneys know that you are looking for Alex, Esq. to answer this question.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I have no idea if you're going to see this now, but I said "If you can answer my question, that's fine". I wasn't complaining about you, I was complaining about the way the site works. I don't want to wait 24 hours for an answer.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I sincerely ***** ***** any confusion you had with the site. As you were told, the experts are not site employees and are independent users of the site and we have no control over what this site does. I am very sorry. I spoke with Alex who asked me to assist you as he is not available.
If you have not committed any such violations as you are being accused of, you need to write the landlords a letter explaining that no such violations occurred. You also need to state in the letter what they have been doing to try to get rid of you as a tenant and breach the lease with you. You need to inform them that what they are doing is harassment in breach of lease and is an attempt at an illegal eviction and if they do not cease and desist you will file suit against them for damages. You need to send a copy of your letter to the same people the landlord sent their letter to, including the SF Rental Board. If they continue this behavior, they would have to actually file suit against you for eviction and when they do you could file a countersuit against them for unlawful eviction and breach of contract and seek damages from them for their harassment and illegal eviction attempt, including attorney's fees.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The problem is that some of the specifics they allege are at least arguable if not true (e.g., "extensive accumulation of personal property"). I don't think they even remotely constitute "substantial damage to the rental unit, or … a substantial interference with the comfort, safety, or enjoyment of the landlord or tenants", or "severe", but I don't know the legal meanings of those terms in SF rent law. (The equivalent term on the SF Rent Board site's list of just causes is "Creation of a nuisance or substantial interference with the landlord or other tenants in the building".) Should I counter the specifics, or just say that I haven't done anything that qualifies?Also, do I need to give specific examples of their harassment? As I said, mostly they've been pretty subtle about it—it's persistent and annoying, but (a) I don't know if it rises to the level of harassment because, again, I don't know what that means legally, and (b) wouldn't that mean I have to list dozens of little things in the letter?Finally, should I mention the various ways in which the unit is not up to legal standards (electrical wiring, heating, etc.)? I spoke to a lawyer about that 5 or 6 years ago, and he said there's a significant chance they'd be forced to do more work than they can afford to do, at which point the unit might just be deemed unlivable, which would hurt me as much as it would hurt them, so I shouldn't do it except as a "nuclear option". Has this reached the point of needing a "nuclear option", or not?Thanks.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Also, do I sent the letter to the owners, and CC their lawyer, or vice-versa?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
You still dispute their claims and even if they are debatable or marginal claims you still refute them. You don't have to give examples of harassment if they are not very strong. You still need to refute their claims if you don't want to move out.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Do I itemize the claims and dispute each one line by line, or just dispute the overall alleged just cause?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
I would dispute in general. Especially since your claims are more general against the landlord
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Again, do I send this to the owners and CC their lawyer?Also, does this sound right, or does it need more specifics:I have in no way created a “substantial interference or nuisance to the landlord or other tenants”. Some of the specifics provided in your Notice are not true, some are your responsibility rather than mine, and none in any way indicate a nuisance to other people living in the unit, which is the just cause you’re claiming.This notice is an attempt at a wrongful eviction, and it escalates your campaign of harassment to the point where I will be forced to file suit for damages if you do not cease and desist.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
That is just fine. It does not need to be elaborate.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Once again: do I sent the letter to the owners, and CC their lawyer, or vice-versa?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for your reply.

I am sorry, I thought I said above, you send it to the landlord and also their attorney AND the SF rent board as well, just like they did to you.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK, thanks.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
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