March 2012 Archives

US Supreme Court May Hear Case That Could Potentially Outlaw Rent Control

forrent.jpgThe U.S. Supreme Court may be prepared to hear a case that could potentially outlaw rent control. New York City landlord James Harmon contends the City's rent control law constitutes a physical taking of property in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Court has not yet announced whether it will hear the case but has asked the state and city of New York to respond to Harmon's argument.

Harmon, 68, lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side in a five-story brownstone that has been in his family since his grandfather bought it in 1949. In 1969, the building became subject to New York City's Rent Stabilization Law, which caps the percentage that a landlord may raise rents each year.

By the time Harmon and his wife took full ownership of the brownstone in 2005, three of the six units were renting at rates that were 59 percent below-market to tenants that Harmon claims did not need the discount.

Harmon argues that he and his wife effectively have been financing the approximately $1500 monthly mortgage payments on the Long Island home of one of their rent stabilized tenants who pays $951.22 monthly rent. According to his petition, Harmon has spent two years and more than $30,000 in legal fees trying to recover possession of one rent-stabilized apartment for one of his grandchildren.

The U.S. Supreme Court now wants to review records on this case from two lower courts that previously rejected Harmon's petition and may decide to hear arguments some time before October of this year.

For further information on this case and on rent control in general, use the links below.

Washington Post Article

Wall Street Journal Article

The Law Offices of James V. Sansone is located in Santa Rosa, California and litigates numerous landlord tenant disputes including evictions, contract and lease disputes, evictions after foreclosure, and problem tenants, throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Lake County, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport, and Kelseyville.

New Bills That Will Impact Santa Rosa Landlords And Tenants

state-capitol.jpgAccording to CAA, in the last weeks of February, California lawmakers introduced hundreds of new bills that would impact the rental housing industry, here is a look at what CAA has identified so far.

AB 1610 - Accessibility - This bill would establish notice requirements for an alleged aggrieved party to follow before bringing an action against a business for an alleged violation of access rights of a disabled individual. The bill would require that party to provide specified notice to the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party where the alleged violation occurred. The bill would require that owner, agent, or other responsible party to respond within 30 days with a description of the improvements to be made or with a rebuttal to the allegations. If that owner, agent, or other responsible party elects to fix the alleged violation, the bill would provide 120 days to do so.

AB 1726 - Pools - This bill would require an apartment building with a swimming pool to employ at least one qualified pool operator, as defined, and to maintain and conspicuously post a current certificate of each qualified pool operator employed by the swimming pool owner. This bill would require originals or copies of the certificate or documentation of each qualified pool operator employed by the site to be available onsite for inspection by a local enforcement agency. It also would require every pool operator of a public swimming pool to be a qualified pool operator, and to take a pool operator training course and examination, as specified, approved by a local enforcement agency. This bill would require a pool operator training course to be registered and approved by a local enforcement agency, and would allow the enforcement agency to charge a registration fee, as specified.

Continue reading "New Bills That Will Impact Santa Rosa Landlords And Tenants" »

Is There A Remedy For The CA State Court's Excessive Case Load

Crowd(1).jpgMany people I speak to feel that justice is not done in state court. Their concern is not that the state courts don't work hard and try, it's simply a lack of resources and a heavy case load. So, is there a legal remedy for this in federal court, the 9th Circuit has held NO.

In, E.T. v. Cantil-Sakauye, the court held that a federal court properly abstained from considering foster children's claims challenging the "crushing and unlawful caseloads" of state dependency courts where the remedy sought would necessarily require that the court intrude upon the state's administration of its court system.

E.T. and several other minor foster children filed suit on behalf of themselves and a proposed class of some 5,100 others in Sacramento County. They alleged that "crushing and unlawful caseloads" frustrated the ability of local dependency courts to fairly and adequately hear their cases, and likewise stymied the ability of court-appointed counsel to provide them effective assistance.

The court of appeals observed that pursuant to federal constitutional limitations on the federal government, federal courts may not entertain actions that seek to impose an ongoing federal audit of state proceedings.

Continue reading "Is There A Remedy For The CA State Court's Excessive Case Load" »

Rejected Residential Lease Was Not Terminated In Bankruptcy

For-Lease.jpgThis dispute arose in the bankruptcy court when the debtors defaulted on the terms of their prepetition lease, which was terminated as a result of it being deemed rejected.
These Chapter 7 debtors filed for bankruptcy 10 days after signing an apartment lease. They did not schedule the landlord as a creditor. They did not disclose the lease on Schedule G. Pursuant to Section 365, the lease was deemed rejected 60 days postpetition because the trustee did not assume or reject it. Two months after the debtors received their discharge, the debtors stopped paying their rent. The landlord sued the debtors, obtaining a judgment for $8,929 for past due rent. The debtors asked for reconsideration on the basis that any rent obligation was discharged in their Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The court was not persuaded by the debtors' arguments. The court ruled that the landlord's rent claim was not a claim for damages resulting from termination of the lease agreement upon rejection. The deemed rejection of the lease resulted in a prepetition breach under section 365(g)(1). However, the court reasoned that a breach of a lease does not result in the termination of a lease. If the parties treat the lease as remaining in effect, then the lease continues in force. "If there is a future breach of the lease, the resulting claim does not arise from the rejection of the lease but from the tenant's subsequent default, and the lease is than subject to enforcement under applicable law," the court said.

If you are a landlord attempting to evict a tenant who has filed for bankruptcy or a tenant who needs to file bankruptcy we can help. The Law Offices of James V. Sansone assists individuals with landlord tenant disputes, including evictions, and file for bankruptcy protection under the United States Bankruptcy Code. We are located in Santa Rosa, California and serve clients throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Lake County, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport, and Kelseyville.