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In 1998 San Francisco outlawed discrimination against tenants who pay a portion of their rent with a Section 8, or similar, housing voucher by amending San Francisco’s existing housing discrimination ordinance to outlaw discrimination based on a person’s “source of income,” a term defined broadly to include government rent subsidies. In 1999, the California Legislature expanded the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to prohibit discrimination based on a tenant’s “source of income,” but defined the term narrowly, so that it does not reach government rent subsidies (Gov. Code 12955(a)). FEHA does not prevent a landlord from declining to take Section 8 tenants. The trial court and court of appeal held that the ordinance is not preempted by FEHA. The purpose of FEHA is “to provide effective remedies” for the 14 categories of “discriminatory practice[]” that FEHA itself addresses. FEHA does not reach the discriminatory practice of a landlord refusing to rent to a participant in the Section 8 program. San Francisco’s ordinance prohibiting such conduct has, by definition, a different purpose from FEHA.There is no inherent contradiction between FEHA and the San Francisco ordinance. View "City and County of San Francisco v. Post" on Justia Law

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Before San Francisco Ordinance 286-13 was adopted in 2013, the Planning Code generally prohibited the enlargement, alteration or reconstruction of “nonconforming units,” which are legal residential housing units that exceed the currently-permitted density for the zoning district in which they are located. The 2013 amendment permits the enlargement, alteration or reconstruction of nonconforming residential units in zoning districts where residential use is principally permitted, if the changes do not extend beyond the “building envelope” as it existed on January 1, 2013. A waiting period of five to 10 years applies for changes to units where a tenant has been evicted employing Administrative Code grounds for evicting a non-faulting tenant, including section 37.9(a)(13), which allows an owner to evict tenants to remove residential units from the rental market in accordance with the Ellis Act. The Ellis Act prohibits local governments from “compel[ling] the owner of any residential real property to offer, or to continue to offer accommodations in the property for rent or lease.” Gov. Code 7060(a). The trial court upheld the amendment. The court of appeal reversed, concluding that the ordinance is preempted by the Ellis Act because it requires an owner who exercises Ellis Act rights to wait years before being eligible for a permit to make alterations. View "Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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A commercial landlord who leases space to an operator of a health studio does not owe a duty under Health and Safety Code section 104113 or the common law to acquire and maintain an automated external defibrillator (AED) at the space or ensure that the operator does so. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action alleging negligence per se and negligence based on defendants' failure to maintain an AED on the premises of a boxing club. The court considered the Rowland v. Christian, (1968) 69 Cal.2d 108, factors and held that defendant did not owe a duty to the gym's patrons to provide an AED on the premises nor a duty to require as a condition of the lease that the gym provide an AED on the premises. View "Day v. Lupo Vine Street, LP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action challenging the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts in their own name and shutting off water service to tenants when landlords fail to pay water bills. The Second Circuit held that the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts satisfied the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held, however, that the City's water shutoff policy violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. While the City has offered sufficient reasons for its policy of refusing to allow tenants to open their own water accounts and thus satisfied the rational basis test, the City's practice of terminating water service to tenants when a landlord failed to pay the water bill was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Winston v. City of Syracuse" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s claims under the Montana Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977 (Landlord-Tenant Act) and alleging violations of restrictive covenants, holding that the district court erred by dismissing Plaintiff’s claims alleging violations of the property covenants’ business use restrictions. Specifically, the Court held (1) where Plaintiff did not allege he was a landlord, tenant or guest or that he otherwise suffered an injury on the premises, Plaintiff could prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief under the Landlord-Tenant Act; and (2) Plaintiff’s business use allegations satisfied notice pleading requirements, and Plaintiff pled sufficient facts to allege a violation of the covenants based on noxious or offensive activity. View "Cossitt v. Flathead Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue was what sort of “specific agreement” is required under DiLullo v. Joseph, 792 A.2d 819 (Conn. 2002), to overcome DiLullo’s presumption that a landlord’s insurer has no right of subrogation to bring an action against a tenant for damage the tenant caused to the rented property. The lower courts in this case concluded that it was sufficient for the lease to allocate to the tenant responsibility for damage caused by the tenant and to require the tenant to obtain insurance even without a specific agreement authorizing subrogation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an express agreement that the tenant will bear responsibility for his or her negligence and needs to obtain his or her own insurance to cover that responsibility is the kind of “specific agreement” that will overcome DiLullo’s presumption against subrogation; and (2) the parties in this case made a specific agreement sufficient to overcome the application of DiLullo’s presumption against subrogation, and allowing subrogation was fair and consistent with the doctrine of equitable subrogation. View "Amica Mutual Insurance Co. v Muldowney" on Justia Law

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At issue was what sort of “specific agreement” is required under DiLullo v. Joseph, 792 A.2d 819 (Conn. 2002), to overcome DiLullo’s presumption that a landlord’s insurer has no right of subrogation to bring an action against a tenant for damage the tenant caused to the rented property. The lower courts in this case concluded that it was sufficient for the lease to allocate to the tenant responsibility for damage caused by the tenant and to require the tenant to obtain insurance even without a specific agreement authorizing subrogation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an express agreement that the tenant will bear responsibility for his or her negligence and needs to obtain his or her own insurance to cover that responsibility is the kind of “specific agreement” that will overcome DiLullo’s presumption against subrogation; and (2) the parties in this case made a specific agreement sufficient to overcome the application of DiLullo’s presumption against subrogation, and allowing subrogation was fair and consistent with the doctrine of equitable subrogation. View "Amica Mutual Insurance Co. v Muldowney" on Justia Law

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HomeAway, an online forum that allows owners to list their properties for short-term rentals and connect with individuals who want to rent a house or apartment, rather than stay in a hotel, is not a party to those rental transactions. San Francisco requires owners who rent out property to obtain a registration certificate from the treasurer; short-term renters must pay a transient occupancy tax. A recent report on short-term rentals in San Francisco showed that most owners did not comply with those requirements. San Francisco obtained a court to enforce an administrative subpoena, requiring HomeAway.com to disclose data about San Francisco rental transactions. The court of appeal affirmed the order, rejecting arguments that the subpoena violated the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701–2712, which regulates the government’s ability to compel disclosure of some electronic data stored on the Internet, and that enforcing the subpoena would violate its customers’ constitutional rights. Even if HomeAway is “covered” by the Act, there is no violation because San Francisco used an authorized procedure. In addition, the subpoena does not require HomeAway to disclose electronic communications but seeks very specific information about hosts who use HomeAway to offer to rent property and about bookings. It does not command HomeAway to produce any customer's electronic communication or login information. View "City and County of San Francisco v. HomeAway.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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HomeAway, an online forum that allows owners to list their properties for short-term rentals and connect with individuals who want to rent a house or apartment, rather than stay in a hotel, is not a party to those rental transactions. San Francisco requires owners who rent out property to obtain a registration certificate from the treasurer; short-term renters must pay a transient occupancy tax. A recent report on short-term rentals in San Francisco showed that most owners did not comply with those requirements. San Francisco obtained a court to enforce an administrative subpoena, requiring HomeAway.com to disclose data about San Francisco rental transactions. The court of appeal affirmed the order, rejecting arguments that the subpoena violated the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701–2712, which regulates the government’s ability to compel disclosure of some electronic data stored on the Internet, and that enforcing the subpoena would violate its customers’ constitutional rights. Even if HomeAway is “covered” by the Act, there is no violation because San Francisco used an authorized procedure. In addition, the subpoena does not require HomeAway to disclose electronic communications but seeks very specific information about hosts who use HomeAway to offer to rent property and about bookings. It does not command HomeAway to produce any customer's electronic communication or login information. View "City and County of San Francisco v. HomeAway.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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Thorncreek, a Park Forest townhouse complex, applied to the Village for a permit to use a vacant townhouse as a business office but began to conduct its business from the townhouse without a permit. The Village cited it for zoning violations and operating without the required permit. The Village later filed suit to halt the zoning and operating violations and to redress certain building-code violations. Thorncreek counterclaimed against the Village and 10 officials, claiming civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. Two Thorncreek "areas" went into foreclosure. Thorncreek blamed the Village’s regulatory overreach in denying a business license, interfering with business operations, refusing to grant a conditional use permit, failing to issue a certificate of occupancy, and unequally enforcing a building-code provision requiring electrical upgrades, based on irrational animus against Clapper, the owner, and racial bias against its black residents. A jury found the Village and Village Manager Mick liable for a class-of-one equal-protection violation; found Mick and Kerestes, the director of community development, liable for conspiracy (section 1985(3)); otherwise rejected the claims, and awarded $2,014,000 in compensatory damages. Because the jury rejected the race-based equal-protection claim, the judge struck the verdict against Kerestes. The judge awarded $430,999.25 in fees and $44,844.33 in costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the judgment against Mick, the admission of evidence concerning Clapper’s wealth, and the admission of Thorncreek’s financial records. View "Thorncreek Apartments I, LLC v. Village of Park Forest" on Justia Law