January 16, 1996
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF
THE SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENTIAL RENT
STABILIZATION & ARBITRATION BOARD,
Tuesday, January 16, 1996 at 5:30 p.m. at
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70, Lower Level
I. Call to Order
President L. Becker called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m.
II. Roll Call
Commissioners Present: L. Becker; Hayden; Nash; Wasserman.
Commissioners not Present: B. Becker: How.
Staff Present: Grubb; Wolf.
Commissioners Lightner and Marshall appeared on the record at 5:37 p.m.; Commissioner Gruber arrived at 6:35 p.m. Commissioner Marshall left the meeting at 7:55 p.m.
III. Approval of the Minutes
MSC: To approve the Minutes of January 2, 1996 with the following correction: regarding the appeal concerning 686 Valencia St. #3 (Q001-28R), the last sentence should read: "On appeal, the tenant, who has a mental disability, alleges that he has rent receipts for all of the years he has resided in the unit."
IV. Consideration of Appeals
A. 845 Sutter St. #205, 411, 203 & 209 Q001-26 & -27R;
Q001-29 & -30R
The tenant’s appeal was filed one day late because he believed that his attorney would be filing an appeal on his behalf.
MSC: To find good cause for the late filing of the appeal; tenant’s counsel is advised that future conduct of this type could have prejudicial consequences for her clients. (Marshall/Hayden: 5-0)
The landlord’s petition for rent increases based on increased operating expenses and certification of capital improvement costs was granted, in part, by the hearing officer. Four tenants appealed the decision on the grounds of financial hardship. Prior to the meeting, three of the tenants reached a settlement with the landlord and withdrew their appeals.
MSC: To accept the appeal of Anthony Aldequer in unit #205 (Q001-26R) and remand the case for a hearing on the tenant’s claim of financial hardship. (Hayden/Marshall: 5-0)
B. 440 Capp St. Q001-31R
The tenant’s petition alleging substantial decreases in housing services was granted, in part, and the landlord was found liable to the tenant in the amount of $1,823.00 due to serious habitability defects on the premises. A prior Decision of Hearing Officer between these parties was voided because the rent reductions granted to the tenant were discharged as part of a bankruptcy proceeding brought by the landlord. Therefore, the current rent reductions granted are only for the period commencing after the order for relief was entered, or April 19, 1995. On appeal, the tenant asserts that the rent reductions granted and the current reduced base rent amount are not sufficiently substantial to compensate him for the condition of the premises.
MSF: To accept the tenant’s appeal for Board hearing on the issue of the sufficiency of the rent reductions granted by the hearing officer. (Marshall/L. Becker: 2-3; Hayden, Nash, Lightner dissenting)
MSC: To deny the appeal with the suggestion that problems identified in the Notice of Violation not raised in the petition, and therefore not addressed in the Decision of Hearing Officer, be the subject of a new petition. (Lightner/Hayden: 3-2; L. Becker, Marshall dissenting)
C. 205 - 9th St. #18 Q001-30A
The property at issue was in receivership at the time of the hearing on the tenant’s petition. Three months after the issuance of the Decision of Hearing Officer, an attorney representing the landlord wrote a letter requesting an appeal form. Two and one-half months later, the landlord filed the appeal. He states that his extreme lateness in filing is due to the fact that he is going through a divorce and has filed for bankruptcy. Staff contacted the landlord and requested that documentation of the bankruptcy filing be provided. The landlord stated that he would turn the matter over to the attorney handling his bankruptcy. It was the consensus of the Board to continue this matter to the next meeting in order to provide the landlord with a chance to furnish the requested information.
D. 1695 Beach St. #102 Q001-34R
The tenant’s petition alleging an unlawful increase in rent was denied. In 1988, the parties entered into a lease agreement for the period November 15, 1988 through November 15, 1989 at a rent of $1,425.00 plus $75.00 for the garage. The lease agreement states that "if the tenant will stay a second year, we agree to keep the rent at $1,425.00 plus garage." The landlords contend that the agreement meant that the rent would not be raised during the second year of the tenancy, but that they never intended to permanently waive their right to bank the allowable annual increase for the second year and impose it at some later date. The hearing officer found that without a specific waiver of their banking rights, the landlords were not enjoined from imposing the increase. On appeal, the tenant contends that the language is clear about the rent being kept at the lower level; that to preserve their banking rights, the lease should have contained a provision regarding banking; and that the landlords engaged in a fraud by deliberately omitting any such information.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Lightner/Hayden: 3-2; L. Becker, Marshall dissenting)
E. 1800 Broadway #602 Q001-32A
The tenants’ petition alleging a substantial decrease in housing services due to elevator malfunctions was granted and the landlord was found liable to the tenants in the amount of $795.00. The landlord appeals, alleging that: the tenants were allowed to raise issues and time periods that were outside of the scope of the petition; the hearing officer exhibited bias toward the tenants; and the tenants only filed their petition in response to having been given a rent increase for the first time in three years.
MSC: To deny the appeal. (Marshall/L. Becker: 4-1; Gruber dissenting)
V. Executive Session
The Board went into Executive Session pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a) with Deputy City Attorney Mariam Morley to discuss the cases of Hislop and Collier v. S.F. Rent Board (Superior Court Case No. 961-976) and Hudson and Boesch v. S.F. Rent Board (Superior Court Case Nos. 965026 and 965461 - 99 Jersey St.) from approximately 6:45 p.m. to 7:55 p.m. The Board had decided at their meeting on December 5, 1995 not to pursue an appeal regarding the 99 Jersey Street cases. After returning to Open Session, the Board disclosed that the following motions were made and passed in Executive Session:
MSC: That no appeal shall be pursued by the S.F. Rent Board in the case of Hislop and Collier v. S.F. Rent Board (Superior Court Case No. 961-976). (Gruber/L. Becker: 4-0; L. Becker, Gruber, Hayden and Marshall voting aye; Lightner abstaining)
As to 99 Jersey Street, Case No. 965026 (Heat Inadequacy):
MSC: Pursuant to the writ of mandate issued by the San Francisco Superior Court on December 1, 1995 in Case No. 965026, the Decisions of the San Francisco Rent Board Hearing Officer dated May 25, 1994 and June 24, 1994 in Rent Board case nos. N006-54T through N006-60T, N006-70T through N006-77T, O001-59T, O004-59T, and O004-66T through O004-68T are set aside. The matter is remanded to the hearing officer for consideration, upon the record or after a hearing, of the August 2, 1994 deposition of David Gogna and to determine the amounts owed, if any.
As to 99 Jersey Street, Case No. 965461 (Heat Conversion):
MSC: Pursuant to the writ of mandate issued by the San Francisco Superior Court on December 1, 1995 in Case No. 965461, the Decision of the San Francisco Rent Board in Rent Board Case Nos. N003-77T through N003-79T, Appeal No. O001-45A, is set aside. The matter is remanded to the hearing officer with instructions to issue an order denying the three tenant petitions and to determine the amounts the tenants will owe to the landlords, if any, as a result of tenants’ reliance on the December 23, 1993 Decision of Hearing Officer and the July 19, 1994 Board Decision on Appeal.
IV. Consideration of Appeals (cont.)
F. 860 Geary Blvd. #501 Q001-32R
The tenant’s petition alleging decreased housing services was dismissed because of his failure to appear at the properly noticed hearing. On appeal, the tenant states that he was in Arizona because his sister has cancer and he was helping to care for her children. He maintains that the problems that led to the filing of the petition have worsened.
MSC: To deny the appeal without prejudice to the filing of a new petition if the problems still exist. (Lightner/Gruber: 5-0)
G. 851 California St. Q001-33R
The tenant’s appeal was filed four months late due to her having been traveling abroad.
MSC: To find no good cause for the late filing of the appeal. (Gruber/Lightner: 4-0)
H. 4245 Judah St. #6 & #9 Q001-31A
Two tenant petitions alleging a substantial decrease in housing services because of limitations on access to parking spaces were granted, and the landlord was found liable to each tenant in the amount of $1,100.00 or $50.00 per month. The landlord appeals, asserting that prior to the hearing, the tenants in the building who were the major cause of the problem had been evicted, the problem therefore had been greatly ameliorated, and the amount granted should be reduced accordingly. The landlord also believes that he should not be penalized due to the late issuance of the decision, and asserts that the reduced amount of rental income will present a hardship for him.
It was the consensus of the Board to continue consideration of this case to the next meeting in order for staff to contact the landlord and see if he wishes to pursue a hardship appeal.
VI. Remarks from the Public
Robert Pender of the Tenants’ Network informed the Commissioners that the next meeting will be on January 17, 1996 at 5:30 p.m.; that San Francisco tenants will be holding the new mayor to the pledges made in the "Tenants’ Bill of Rights"; and that he is a candidate for the Democratic Central Committee from the 12th Assembly District.
VII. Calendar Items
January 23 & 30, 1996 - NO MEETINGS
February 6, 1996
3 appeal considerations (2 cont. from 1/16/96)
Old Business: Costa-Hawkins Bill (AB 1164)
Proposed Procedural and Rules Changes regarding Proof of Service, Mailing of Tenant Petitions and Administrative Dismissals
President L. Becker adjourned the meeting at 8:15 p.m.