Tobener Ravenscroft

Firm News

San Francisco residents to vote on contentious Prop. F

Tenant lawyer Joseph Tobener comments on the benefits of Proposition F, commonly called the Airbnb initiative. Representing the San Francisco Tenants Union, Tobener says short-term rental services like Airbnb have been breaking city rental laws with impunity. The proposition, heavily opposed by Airbnb, suggested limiting the number of nights a unit can be rented to 75 per year and required quarterly reports to the SF Planning Department on how units are used. L.A. Times Nov. 1, 2015 by Tracey Lien

S.F. Fails To Follow Up After Evictions

Tenant lawyer Joseph Tobener, of Tobener Ravenscroft LLP, explains why San Francisco city agencies rarely track what happens to buildings after evictions. His client brought suit after discovering from her former neighbors that the landlord illegally converted her three-unit building into condominiums and rented her former unit on Airbnb. Tobener notes that wrongful eviction suits, if upheld, net the displaced tenant “triple damages,” plus attorney’s fees. Damages are calculated by the court based on loss of rent control. San Francisco… Read More »

When Mrs. Doubtfire Won’t Leave

San Francisco tenant lawyer Joseph Tobener comments about the California couple whose nanny refuses to leave their home. With an agreement to care for the couple’s three children in exchange for room and board, the nanny reputedly reneged on her commitment but continued living in the family’s home. Not only must the family wait for due process to take place (which prevents them from evicting her), but Tobener says arrangements like these can unwittingly violate minimum-wage laws. The Daily Beast… Read More »

Airbnb blurs lines between visitors, tenants

San Francisco tenant lawyer Joseph Tobener represents long-term Airbnb renter after eviction. The case tests what tenant protections mean for clients of the vacation rental system. Tobener maintains his client’s 75-day stay entitles her to coverage under the city’s strict tenant protection laws: In single-family homes, like the one in which she lived, protections kick in after 32 days of continuous occupancy. San Francisco Chronicle June 7, 2014 by Carolyn Said

San Francisco sues landlords who evicted tenants for Airbnb

S.F. tenant rights attorney Joseph Tobener represents San Francisco Tenants Union in suing multiple landlords accused of evicting tenants to rent out rooms on websites like Airbnb, VRBO.com and Homeaway. The predatory practice displaces longtime legal renters from their homes to list their space online for as much as $600 a night. The practice is illegal for multiple reasons, Tobener says, including San Francisco law, which prohibits rentals of less than 30 days. Reuters April 23, 2014 by Gerry Shih

Lee pledges $5.4 million to fix elevators in public housing

Tenant rights attorney Joseph Tobener takes on San Francisco’s Housing Authority on behalf of 24 tenants in Clementina Towers public housing. After years of malfunctioning elevators that threaten residents’ health and well-being, the lawsuit spurs improvements for low-income residents, who pay a third of their income to rent. In some instances, home health-care workers could not reach needy clients due to broken elevators, and residents (most of them elderly and infirm) could not access their units for hours, finding themselves… Read More »

Serial Evictor Targeted in Ellis Act Protests

Tenant rights lawyer Joseph Tobener comments on action by Eviction Free San Francisco to spotlight evictions on Guerrero Street. Filing a lawsuit against one owner, Tobener notes the eviction of his client is unlawful on several counts, including: the false pretense that the unit was needed to house the owner’s partner (the two had filed for separation); and an unpermitted remodel that incorporated his client’s unit into the owner’s space. Uptown Almanac April 12, 2014 by Jackson West

Airbnb sublets in S.F. land some renters in the doghouse

Renters can find themselves in the wrong, too, notes San Francisco tenant rights attorney Joseph Tobener of Tobener Ravenscroft LLP. It’s illegal to obtain apartments solely for the purpose of listing them on Airbnb, says Tobener, and in most cases even subletting for a day or two breaches the terms of a lease. Threats of eviction and even eviction may be justified when renters break the terms of their contract by hosting unsanctioned Airbnb guests. San Francisco Chronicle March 18,… Read More »

Airbnb profits prompted S.F. eviction, ex-tenant says

Tenant rights lawyer Joseph Tobener discusses the effects of Airbnb on San Francisco and its renters. Recognizing that this aspect of the sharing economy is so lucrative it is forcing out residents and driving up rents, Tobener criticizes Airbnb’s role in the lawsuit of one client from Russian Hill. Tobener reports receiving more than a dozen calls a week related to Airbnb issues, including people evicted in favor of Airbnb rentals; tenants evicted because they violated the terms of their… Read More »

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