Our conclusion? Rather than penalizing landlords, we should come together to focus on solutions. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Our area is world-renowned for its innovation. If we conjure up the same level of creativity, perhaps we can finally address the endemic problems.

When city leadership, government leaders, and nonprofits get creative and serious about tackling the issues, solutions can take shape. Certainly, there is no silver bullet to solve one of today’s trickiest urban issues, and it requires a holistic approach. This involves inclusionary zoning, removing parking minimums, changing building codes to make it easier to rehab older buildings and new funding models.

Fortunately, we can draw upon the examples of other cities such as Denver, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City. It’s also instructive to study our neighbors to the North – although affordable housing is a local issue, Canada’s well-conceived national policy and funding has made a huge difference there.

This article takes a sampling of other cities to find out what creative solutions they are employing to address the very same problems we are facing in the Bay Area.

Finding creative solutions to landlord-tenant disputes is what the San Francisco real estate attorneys at Bornstein Law have been doing for over 23 years and it is with the same win-win and outside-the-box mentality that we approach the aggregate housing issues that affect our region. But all parties should lower the temperature of the debate and realize that this is not a zero-sum game.

In that venue, we noted that while the law is clear that a rental property need not be a palace, it must be safe, sanitary and secure. Apparently, Ms. Mendoza and Mr. Paredes were not kept in the loop or did not heed our strong advice.

Sometimes, there is a blur between what is legal and what is right, but there is no quandary here. Both the ethical and legal breaches in the case at hand are atrocious. Although this story represents an extreme case of depravity, it should put rental property owners on notice that they have an obligation to provide livable quarters for their tenants. Failure to do so is both immoral and illegal.

Although the housing conditions on Mission Street, like that of the Oakland fire, are clearly avoidable and shocking to the conscience of anyone, our hard-won experience at Bornstein Law has shown that most habitability issues arise out of less-known, overlooked violations such as an exposed outlet where children are playing or other mundane violations not so clear-cut. Whether your rental unit passes all of the habitability checks is a subject best reviewed with competent real estate lawyers.

With proper counsel, habitability issues can be avoided and resolved, rectified and liabilities reduced. 


Bornstein Law