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socallegalwork, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 144
Experience:  Attorney and licensed real estate broker with over twelve years of experience, specializing in landlord/tenant matters.
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I am renting an apartment unit in San Francisco in a TIC. No

Customer Question

I am renting an apartment unit in San Francisco in a TIC. No rent control. There are legally two units based on the county records I could find, but the landlord put up a wall to separate what was originally a family room for our unit to make a third unit. The wall was completed shortly before we moved in. The landlord then rented this space as a studio called #1A. There are not records or permits that I have found to show that this is a legal unit and mail cannot be delivered to this address since it isn't a real address.
The person that now occupies this space is very loud and disruptive. Do I have any legal rights given this unit is most likely illegal to request sound proofing updates from the landlord?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  socallegalwork replied 1 year ago.

Hello. I believe I can assist you. There seem to be two issues at play here.

First, the noise issue. Every tenant has an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment . Basically this means you have a right to be free from unreasonable and recurring disturbances from your landlord and neighbors. If the landlord repeatedly breaches this covenant (or fails to prevent another from breaching it) then technically a tenant can be relieved of his/her obligation to pay rent. A tenant can even terminate the lease. After all, as a tenant you are paying rent for a safe, habitable dwelling that you can enjoy. However, if you withhold rent you should be prepared to defend and explain your actions to a judge in case the landlord elects to file an eviction action. A good practice would be to inform the landlord in writing of the problem and request that it be resolved (you will want a written record of the problem, the fact you notified the landlord of the problem, and that you requested the problem be resolved) and give the landlord a reasonable period of time to fix it before you contemplate more drastic action such as withholding rent.

With respect to the premises possibly not being up to code, or perhaps one of the units even being an illegal unit. tenants can alert the local housing authorities to potential code violations. Doing so typically results in local code enforcement officers (I believe in your case it would be the Department of Building Inspection) performing an inspection. I would think about the potential consequences of doing so beforehand. First, if the premises are found to have multiple, significant violations or one of the units is found to be illegal, you may find yourself more inconvenienced then you are now- possibly even evicted if the landlord is instructed by authorities to cease renting it for residential use. Second, while it would not be legal for your landlord to retaliate against you if if you made a complaint, this action will also probably not endear you to your landlord. It is generally easier to rent property when you have a good (or at least cordial) relationship with your landlord.

Hopefully, this gives you the information you need.

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