Joseph TobenerJoseph Tobener is a partner at Tobener Ravenscroft. An attorney for more than fifteen years, Mr. Tobener draws on his specialized tenant law expertise to provide caring, easy-to-understand, and aggressive assistance to a diverse clientele.  He has represented thousands of Bay Area residents on tenant law issues and earned millions on behalf of his clients. He has appeared on KALW and KQED and was featured in the SF Bay Guardian, the Daily Journal, and California Lawyer. Cases he has successfully litigated have been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, Reuters, and Wired. His clients have included countless lawyers, high-tech executives, mobile home residents, the San Francisco Tenants Union, and several art collectives. One of his passions is working to preserve artist live/work housing. He also worked for Home Base, a homelessness law nonprofit and has been an adjunct professor at San Francisco State University and UC Hastings. The firm is dedicated to employee activism, and sponsors each of its lawyers to volunteer weekly in the community at housing rights nonprofits, donating nearly 500 attorney hours each year.

EDUCATION

JD, UC Hastings College of Law
MS, San Francisco State University
BA, University of California, Los Angeles

jtobener@tobenerlaw.com

Articles

Supervisor Moves to strengthen renter protections in San Francisco

July 10, 2018

“A loophole in San Francisco’s eviction-control laws: Landlords and building owners can circumvent eviction protections on single-family homes and rented condominiums by jacking the rent up far above market rate, with the intent of making the residence unaffordable for the tenants. District Nine Supervisor Hillary Ronen plans to introduce legislation Tuesday aiming to shut that […] Read More

Wear and Tear and Security Deposits Under California Law

July 6, 2018

Many landlords and tenants struggle with how to define “ordinary or normal wear and tear” with respect to security deposits. Most disputes over security deposits come down to what constitutes normal wear and tear. When a tenant moves out of a unit, the landlord may deduct from a tenant’s security deposit to repair damage to […] Read More

Smoking in an Apartment Building

June 18, 2018

Can landlords prohibit tenants from smoking cigarettes? Yes. Landlords have the right to prohibit smoking of cigarettes or other tobacco products in and around a rental property as long as it is written into the lease agreement. CAL. CIV. CODE § 1947.5. Many leases ban smoking of any kind, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and marijuana. E-cigarettes […] Read More

Oakland Buyout Ordinance

June 13, 2018

What units are covered by the Oakland Buyout Ordinance? The Oakland Buyout Ordinance applies to all residential rental units in Oakland, except publicly owned or operated rentals. What is my landlord required to do before approaching me about a buyout? The Oakland Buyout Ordinance requires landlords to provide each tenant in a rental unit with […] Read More

Building Rapport: Mediator Jane Struck

June 1, 2018

The following was taken from JAMS mediators: Early in her career as an insurance defense lawyer, Jeane Struck found she could be a zealous advocate for her clients while remaining on good terms with opposing counsel. Now a mediator at JAMS special- izing in insurance and liability cases, Struck said she still sees many of […] Read More

Estoppel Certificates

What is a Tenant Estoppel Certificate (Estoppel Agreement)? When a landlord places a rental property up for sale, the realtor and landlord will request a tenant to complete and sign an estoppel certificate. An estoppel certificate is used to inform a potential buyer of commercial or residential rental property of the rights of existing tenants. Read More

Mountain View Rent Control and Tenant Relocation Assistance Program

May 29, 2018

The City of Mountain View has a rent increase limitation ordinance (“Mountain View Rent Control”), which caps the annual amount a landlord can increase rent, and a just cause for eviction ordinance (“Mountain View Eviction Control”), which protects tenants from eviction absent one of the enumerated just causes for eviction. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, […] Read More

Landlord Caused Injuries

October 24, 2017

When can a landlord be held liable for a tenant’s personal injury? A tenant can recover for personal injuries caused by a landlord’s or property manager’s negligent care of property. To prove a claim for negligence, a tenant must show that (1) the landlord owed a duty to maintain the property; (2) the landlord negligently […] Read More

Breaking a Lease

October 22, 2017

Tenants break or void long-term leases for two reasons. In the most common scenario, a tenant seeks to break a lease for personal reasons; for example, to move to another state. In a second scenario, the tenant must void the lease because the landlord has breached obligations under the lease by refusing to repair, failing […] Read More

Berkeley Rent Control

July 13, 2017

What units are covered by the Berkeley Rent Control? The Berkeley Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance has two separate protections that are best thought of as distinct:  rent increase limitations and just cause eviction protection, these are often referred to as Berkeley Rent Control. Some units in the City of Berkeley have […] Read More