The Law Offices of William E. Shapiro, Attorney at Law The Law Offices of William E. Shapiro, Attorney at Law
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Law Offices of William E. Shapiro
649 Mission Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (415) 678-9209
Fax: (415) 358-8515
There are only fourteen reasons why a landlord can evict a residential tenant in San Francisco. Some of the reasons include:

Non-Payment of Rent
The most common reason for an attempted eviction is that the landlord says that the tenant did not pay her rent. But before a landlord can evict for that reason, he must first give the tenant three days notice that the rent is past-due and to pay. In addition, there may be other defenses to a non-payment eviction, such as defects in the condition of the unit or building.

Owner Move-in
Owner move-in is another example of a reason a landlord may try to use to evict a residential tenant. For a valid owner move-in, a landlord has to comply very carefully with the law. The landlord must give the tenant at least thirty days written notice of her intent to move in. The notice must also advise what other residential realty the landlord owns. The notice must also be delivered with a $500.00 payment per tenant. The landlord must also pay $500.00 per tenant when the unit is turned over to him. There are other requirements and restrictions as well.

Ellis Act
The Ellis Act is also a way that landlords try to take back their units. The Ellis Act is state law that says that a residential landlord may take an entire building out of residential use. Again, there are strict requirements that the landlord must meet before he can evict tenants under the Ellis Act.

Defending an Eviction Lawsuit
The key to the successful defense of an eviction lawsuit (called an unlawful detainer) is to act early. A tenant hiring an attorney as soon as she gets a Notice to Quit (a landlord's eviction notice) has the advantage of having up to 30 days for her attorney to investigate the matter and, if appropriate, try to settle the case before a lawsuit is filed by the landlord.
Regardless of the reason a landlord attempts to use to evict a tenant, the first thing he must do is serve the tenant with a notice to move out. If the tenant does not move out, the landlord must then file a lawsuit called an unlawful detainer and serve a copy of the lawsuit on the tenant. The tenant then has only five calendar days to respond to the lawsuit. If the tenant does not respond on time and in the proper written manner, she can be evicted without ever getting heard in court.
The response to a summons and complaint must be filed with the court. The response must be either a properly drafted pleading (legal document) or a properly completed form answer. A letter or phone call will not be enough.

People who are not experienced tenants' lawyers sometimes harm their chances of winning their cases by simply filling out a form answer at the court clerk's office. By doing so, they may give up many defenses to the eviction lawsuit, such as that service of the summons and complaint was not done in a legal manner. In addition, there are responses to the complaint other than an answer, such as a demurrer or a motion to strike, that may end the litigation early and also give the tenant's attorney time to complete his investigation.

Once the tenant's lawyer files the response to the complaint, she can then propound written discovery (send questions and requests for documents to the landlord to be answered under penalty of perjury). She can also require the landlord to appear in her office in person and answer questions under oath regarding the case. This helps the tenant's lawyer prepare a defense to the eviction lawsuit. The tenant has a right to have the case heard by a judge, and if she wants, by a jury. Trial by jury means that ordinary people get to hear the tenant's story and decide who wins. Many tenants feel that this is better than just having a judge hear the case.

Are you being evicted? Fight back by Contacting us.

Personal Injury
Are you injured because of another person's carelessness or recklessness?
If your answer is "yes" then you may be able to recover for negligence. What is negligence? Negligence is the breach of a duty of due care, by the defendant, that is the actual and proximate cause of your injuries. Simply put, if your injuries are caused by anther person's carelessness or recklessness, then that person has to pay compensation for your injuries.
How does one prove another person was careless or reckless?

By presenting sufficient evidence to persuade the trier of fact that your side of the story really happened. Contact Us and allow us to present your story to the people who really count-the judge and jury.

What are some examples of carelessness or recklessness?

  • Vehicle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Dog bites

Can "professionals" be held liable for their carelessness or recklessness?
Yes, professionals such as doctors, dentists, architects and even attorneys can be held liable for providing professional services that fall below the standard of care associated with their profession.

What are some examples of professional carelessness or recklessness?

  • A doctor who administers an injection to the wrong patient
  • A dentist who extracts a patient's wrong tooth
  • An attorney who fails to file a client's complaint within the proscribed time

Did another person intentionally cause your injuries?
If another person intentionally harms, disturbs or injures you, then you are entitled to recover punitive damages along with your compensatory damages. What are punitive damages? They are damages the court awards you because of the defendant's willful, wanton or malicious conduct.

What are some examples of willful, wanton or malicious conduct?

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • False imprisonment

Did you suffer an injury because of a defective consumer product?
California has strict laws protecting consumers from injury because of "defective products." A product is any manufactured item such as toys, household appliances, food products, prescription drugs, tools and cars. Further, a product can be defective if it suffers from a design or manufacturing defect. A product can also be defective if it has inadequate warnings as to the risk associated with its use.

These types of cases require the presentation of expert testimony to prove the consumer product was, in fact, defective. Contact Us if you believe that you suffered an injury because of a defective consumer product. We will investigate the facts supporting your allegation, and where appropriate, we will retain qualified experts to prove your case. We will never defer your right to just compensation in favor of any defendant manufacturer, supplier or retailer.

Employment Law
Employment law covers the rights and obligations that sprout from an employer-employee relationship.  In other words, there are rules which govern both you and your employer's conduct.  For instance, you should know that federal and state law forbids your employer from discriminating against you because of:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The law also forbids:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Your employer from firing you in violation of public policy
  • Your employer from acting in a manner that effectively forces you to resign (also know as "constructive discharge")

These are just a few examples of the types of discriminatory practices prohibited by law. Contact Us if you believe that your employer has discriminated against you, or, has acted in a manner adversely affecting your employment.

San Francisco residents are all too familiar with the city's expensive cost of living and its lack of affordable housing. The internet bubble of the late 90's sent the cost of both commercial and residential real estate though the roof.  But despite recent economic woes, there still exists a shortage of affordable housing that occasionally results in shady behavior by greedy-minded landlords. In recognition of this, the firm routinely represents commercial and residential tenants in unlawful detainer proceedings.

What is an unlawful detainer proceeding?
An action in unlawful detainer is a summary proceeding which allows a landlord to obtain possession of property occupied by a tenant and to recover past due rent and other damages resulting from the tenant's default. 

Why would a landlord commence an action in unlawful detainer?
An unlawful detainer action may be brought for several reasons, including: non-payment of rent, failure of the tenant to perform conditions of the lease or rental agreement, holding over after expiration of the agreed term of the lease, and unlawful use of the premises.

Are there any defenses to an action in unlawful detainer?
Yes, there may be applicable defenses depending on the specific facts of your case. Contact Us for more information.

The firm represents individuals and small businesses in a variety of contract and business tort disputes, including:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
  • Tortious Interference with Contract
  • Intentional/Negligent Interference With Prospective Economic Advantage
  • Unfair Business Practices (Business & Professions Code § 17200)
  • False Advertising (Business & Professions Code § 17500)
  • Trade libel

Contact Us for more information regarding contractual/ business tort disputes.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and would welcome your inquires. However, please be aware that simply contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship An attorney-client relationship is formed only when we separately and expressly confirm such a relationship and a client retainer agreement is fully executed. We do not seek to represent anyone based solely on a visit to our web site. Although we have discussed some of our results, it is important to note that every case has its unique facts and conditions. We cannot and will not guarantee the outcome of a particular case, but we will aggressively represent our clients and actively fight for their legal rights.
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