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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
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I have a nuisance neighbor in the building I live in. We are

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I have a nuisance neighbor in the building I live in. We are both tenants, and our landlord
wants to get rid of him but seems unable because in SF tenants rights are really strong.
Every other tenant in the building has problems with this person. Currently things are quiet except the nuisance tenant refusing communication on any level to deal with co habitating issues. Such as leaving lots of stuff in the common area of the backyard, literally walling off part of the yard and creating a self imposed section of the yard that takes up 1/3 of the space of which he is 1 of 9 people in the building of which we all share and have access.
Question 1: Is there any way to force mediation or some form of impossed conflict resolution?
Question 2: This tenant is threatening me with a restraining order because in the past 7 months I've knocked on his door or ran into him in the hallway and tried to talk about some issues reguarding his abusive use of common space around 3-4 times. I don't put it past him to lie to get this restraining order. Should I be conserved and will I be able to contest said order if it were to happen?
Question 1: Is there any way to force mediation or some form of imposed conflict resolution?

A: Hello. SFMC 37.9(a)(3) permits a landlord the authority to commence an unlawful detainer action against a tenant where, "The tenant is committing or permitting to exist a nuisance in, or is causing substantial damage to, the rental unit, or is creating a substantial interference with the comfort, safety or enjoyment of the landlord or tenants in the building, and the nature of such nuisance, damage or interference is specifically stated by the landlord in the writing as required by Section 37.9(c)."

You're probably already aware of the above, which makes me think that the lease with the nuisance tenant is not specific enough to permit the landlord to evict under 37.9(a)(3). However, without reading the lease, there's no way to know for certain. It could be that the landlord just doesn't want to deal with the problem, because it's costly and risky.

However, you and your cotenants do have another way to deal with this problem. You could each sue the nuisance tenant in small claims court for interfering with your quiet enjoyment of the tenancy (private nuisance). And, you could each testify in each other's behalf. And, since each of you could sue for the diminished value of the rent, up to $10,000 each, you could collectively put the nuisance tenant is a position so legally untenable, that unless he agreed to stop the games, you could extract a great deal of money from the tenant via wage garnishment (assuming that the tenant is employed).

There is no way to force mediation. The only recourse is small claims, if the landlord cannot act, because the lease is not sufficiently precise to permit the landlord to evict. If the lease is sufficiently precise, and the landlord refuses to evict, then you could sue the landlord for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment -- because it would mean that the landlord may be musing this tenant to try to get everyone else to vacate, so that the landlord can increase the rent to new tenants.

Anyway, those are your options. You may want to discuss with your cotenants and/or the landlord, and see what you can work out.

Question 2: This tenant is threatening me with a restraining order because in the past 7 months I've knocked on his door or ran into him in the hallway and tried to talk about some issues regarding his abusive use of common space around 3-4 times. I don't put it past him to lie to get this restraining order. Should I be conserved and will I be able to contest said order if it were to happen?

A: Obtaining a civil restraining order requires a threat of or actual violence against another person, or a pattern of conduct intended to harass, which has no legitimate purpose. Code Civ. Proc. 527.6(a)-(b). Nothing you describe would give the nuisance tenant grounds for a restraining order.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I was just wondering also if and when he tries to get a restraining order against me. Is there a way for me to contest it, or get it voided for false charges? He's talking a big game about it to the landlord but I don't see how he can get one unless he lies, which is what I'm afraid of.
All other info was very helpful, thanks so much.
A civil harassment restraining order (CHRO) in California is much more difficult to obtain, than the more well-known domestic violence protective order (DVPO). Judges lien in favor of DVPOs, because they know that the emotional issues and close proximity of an intimate relationship can easily lead to abuse. Whereas, with parties who have no history of cohabitation, marriage, children, etc., are far less likely to be engaged in a pattern of dangerous conduct.

So, if you were actually sued for a CHRO, you would appear in court and try to trivialize the issues, e.g.: "Your honor, petitioner is engaged in a pattern of nuisance conduct in our apartment complex. I have witnessed petitioner blocking off portions of the apartment common areas as if it belongs to petitioner. The landlord has requested that petitioner cease and desist, but due to the limitations of the written lease, and the San Francisco rent stabilization ordinance, the landlord believes that an unlawful detainer action is unavailable to remove petitioner from the premises. I have made no threats to petitioner of any kind, and petitioner's allegations are utter rubbish. I have brought several witnesses today to testify to petitioner's habitual nuisance behavior, and I believe that once you have heard their testimony, you will realize that petitioner's current request for a civil harassment restraining order is merely a continuation of this nuisance pattern."

Hope this helps.
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