Topics that matter. Insights with impact.

While our mission is to keep you up to date, the law is in a constant state of flux. Please consult an attorney before acting on any information contained on this page.


Have tenants owing COVID-related rent debt? The prospect of forgiving the debt creates a taxable event and this perhaps can be used as leverage. 

Sadly, many well-to-do tenants refused to pay rent just because they were protected by eviction moratoriums. For those tenants with the ability to pay, dangling the possibility of filing a 1099-C may incentivize them to be honorable and pay back the landlord some arrears because forgiven rent debt is considered income.





Reforming security deposit rules is just one item on the wish list of a renters' caucus

As a bit of trivia, only five state legislators are renters, but if their agenda comes to pass, the impact on housing providers will be anything but trivial.

In-depth: San Francisco tenant buyout agreements

We dig deeper into San Francisco tenant buyout agreements. While rules may differ in other locales, the fundamental way we approach buyouts is the same.



Housing providers overwhelmed with ever-changing notice requirements

Regulators have made a massive, concerted effort to educate tenants on the protections afforded to them, but there has been little outreach to landlords on their rights and responsibilities.

Potential tax savings in underperforming rental units when tenants are chronically not paying rent

If your property's value declines, the Alameda County Assessor's Office is willing to hear you out, provided you have supporting documentation and can make a compelling case.


Squatting back in focus

The overtaking of property by squatters has made the news lately. Coupled with a question posed to Daniel by MarketWatch, we felt obligated to revisit this topic and give a refresher on how to remove unwelcome guests or trespassers.

Read more »


Parking wars in the Bay Area

The irony doesn't escape us. Although there is a false narrative in some quarters that rental property owners are fomenting homelessness, San Francisco's policy of towing thousands of vehicles puts renters at greater risk of displacement.

With space such a scarce and coveted commodity, we revisit the friction over parking.



A lawsuit challenging Berkeley's application of its rent regulations comes to a disappointing end

Courts have sided with Berkeley's Rent Stabilization Board in its interpretation that the whole purpose of Costa-Hawkins was to add to housing stock, not merely convert from one form of residential use to another.

It seems that regulators have the discretion to decide whether they themselves should be regulated.

Background and our concerns »




The orderly wind-down of eviction moratoriums throughout Alameda County. Or shall we say disorderly?

While some question marks remain, rental housing providers have greater clarity on managing landlord-tenant relationships. We condense the rules in an online guide.


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Berkeley lawsuit puts Costa-Hawkins under a microscope.

When landlords purchased two derelict single-family homes, rehabilitated them, and converted them into triplexes, were these units subject to the City of Berkeley's Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance?

The Rent Board's stance was yes, and the courts agreed, stating that the mere conversion from one form of residential use to another does not exempt them on the basis of Costa-Hawkins because there was no addition to housing stock.


Some sense of finality in Alameda County, but we are not done just yet.

While some Alameda County Supervisors were eager to revisit the county's eviction moratorium, the board was unable to take action because of obstructions, protests, and saddening losses. The only viable choice was to let the eviction ban sunset on April 29.

Yet this saga is not over. Like stubborn children, some East Bay cities are sorting out their own ordinances and attempting to cling to outlived tenant protections by their fingernails.


Any laggards not in compliance with San Francisco's rent registry?

March 1st ushered in new reporting requirements for SF owners and no matter our objections to the overreach, we have to comply with a new regulatory regime.

We do not yet fully know the extent of how Big Brother will use this information, but we do know that the deadline has passed and we want to get into good graces with the City.

Read more »



Supervisor David Haubert took on Alameda County's eviction moratorium in a Town Hall meeting. Now what?

The Supervisor hit all of the right notes, and our community loved what he had to say. But will this translate into action?

The legal implications when a tenant moves in a romantic partner

What are housing providers to do when a tenant wants to give the keys to a domestic partner who is an unfamiliar face to the landlord? This is one of the questions posed to Daniel in a recent online meetup and his response follows.

Fair housing "testers" look to push landlords off of a cliff

There are nonprofits hiring imposters for the sole purpose of catching landlords in the act of discriminatory housing practices, making it imperative that we are careful in our communication with prospective tenants.


No "New Deal" for tenants mentioned in Biden's address and only a fleeting reference to affordable housing

Despite the push for a Tenant Bill of Rights and with and with an affordable housing crisis upon us, we didn't hear much from POTUS on these topics in the State of the Union speech

An ordinance going into effect in July lights a fire under some SF rental property owners

Owners with three or more rental units with a fire alarm system will be soon required to pass the "pillow test" of 75 decibels.

Is the glass half empty or half full when it comes to San Francisco's multifamily and commercial real estate market?

We have been blessed with many friends in the real estate industry, and we ask one of them.

Think before you press send

We can't live without texts and emails, but messaging with tenants should be well thought out, and the limitations of technology should be recognized - texts and emails are no substitute for legally prescribed notices.

What to do with items left behind in rental units?

It is not finder-keepers. In fact, there are carefully choreographed steps for landlords to follow.

San Francisco's vulgar F word: fourplexes

After we lost track of the many fourplex-related hearings and political dustups, San Francisco finally passed its fourplex ordinance in October 2022. Fast forward to today. What does the ordinance do, and will it have any impact on our housing dearth?

Is a merchant's obligation to pay rent accrued during the heart of the pandemic excused because of COVID-related government edicts and shelter-in-place orders? 

In a victory for commercial landlords, courts rule in favor of SVAP III Poway Crossings, LLC when a fitness center claimed that they could not perform their contractual duty to pay rent.

Unique insurance challenges facing multifamily housing providers

In a two-part series, we sit down with Jude Winterhalter to discuss wrongful eviction coverage, the nuances of mixed-use properties, and more.

Get an overview, learn about wrongful eviction coverage, and the underestimation of replacement costs →

We continue the conversation with mixed-use properties →


It's been said that home is where the heart is, but what happens when that heart is broken? That answer has been revisited by new legislation that builds upon protections already in place for survivors of domestic violence.

Year in review: A look back at some consequential events for rental housing providers in 2022

It's been said that this year's book at midnight turns into the footnote in the next. That's partially true. For landlords, property managers, and real estate practitioners, a new regulatory regime that was spawned in 2022 will be more than a footnote in the new year. Some perspective is in order.

Noteworthy developments for our community →

New Year's resolutions for landlords, property managers, and the professionals who serve them

It's that time of year again.

In an annual tradition, we provide pointers on improving your rental business, cauterizing risk, growing your wealth, and making intelligent business decisions.

What made our top 10 list →

SCOTUS decision will impact those of you with resident managers. Now is the time to review your agreements.

As many divided Americans were affixed on the high court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade, we were following Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, a seminal case that puts the California Private Attorneys General Act under scrutiny.

We explain the implications for rental housing providers who employ resident managers and submit that the time is ripe to take a hard look at the documentation that governs your relationships.




The Ellis Act: The ghosts of the past, present, and the future

In this in-depth piece, we take a hard look at the 1980s-era law that allows landlords to exit the rental business, debunk certain myths surrounding these no-fault evictions, explain statutory obligations, and offer another option for landlords stuck in an unprofitable venture short of bowing out the rental business. 


Read more »




The cry outs for expanded rent and eviction controls are gaining traction throughout the Bay Area

Amid rampant inflation, disgruntled renters are joining the rent control movement in droves. Calls for increased tenant protections are resonating in suburbia and places not traditionally known for activism. What's behind this groundswell of support?

We discuss it here →


San Francisco regulators clamp down on 'corporate rentals' and Intermediate Length Occupancy units in the city

There are instances when nomadic guests want to stay in San Francisco for more than 30 days, but less than a full year. These types of arrangments have been around for years and the companies offering these accommodations, often for decades.

Now, owners and operators are subject to a new regulatory regime as regulators look to police another iteration of the modern-day temporary flop.




An uptick in Owner move-in evictions as people yearn to return home

With a societal shift of people going to and fro during and after the pandemic, it was inevitable that property owners would want to come back home, but there is a deep distrust among regulators of these no-fault evictions.

There are several procedural requirements and potential pitfalls, making it prudent to seek counsel.

Effectuating an OMI/RMI properly, legally, and without ulterior motive →

A win for landlords in the most unlikely of places

San Francisco landlords will not have to give tenants a 10-day warning period to tenants who have failed to pay rent. That is according to a recent court decision overruling a portion of Ordinance No. 18-22. It flies in the face of state law, a judge ruled.

Bornstein Law applauds the tenacity of our industry partners in achieving this hard-won victory. Yet clearly, it is not a perfect world our landlording community lives in and many challenges remain, as we explain here.

What this victory means →


Developments do not get any rosier for rental property owners in the Republic called Alameda County

Despite some sentiment shared by the Board of Supervisors that the concerns of struggling landlords should be heard, lawmakers have allowed draconian protections to continue.

This comes at a time when unincorporated parts of Alameda County look to enact protections of their own and Oakland seeks to expand "just cause" protections to all properties.



With inflation taking its toll, should landlords raise rents?

As we emerge on the other side of the pandemic and people return to the Bay Area, should rents be raised just because the landlord is permitted to do so? There are no hard and fast answers, but we lay out a host of considerations.

Read more »



The glass is half-full after lawmakers extend California's eviction moratorium past April 1

In what is likely to be the last elongation of statewide eviction protections, AB 2179 should come as good news for rental housing providers.

Justice delayed, justice denied for San Francisco landlords?

The lawsuit isn't over until it's over, but landlord groups successfully blocked the city's ordinance that makes it necessary for landlords to issue a 10-day warning notice to tenants prior to serving a traditional 3-day notice.

A pair of ill-conceived bills gets reincarnated

Attacks on the Ellis Act and calls for a statewide rent registry persist despite earlier defeats, proving once again that tenants' advocates are a tenacious bunch that won't take no for an answer.

Punitive tax proposed for "greed-fueled" investors

To discourage cash-rich, corporate investors from gobbling up homes and quickly selling them for a profit, AB 1771 would impose a massive capital gains tax on transactions that are sold within three years of purchase. The tax dissipates the longer the home is owned.


Tenant screening software is put under its own scrutiny

Despite all of the marvels of technology, litigation arises after mistaken identities and fair housing violations result from algorithms that do not take into account individual circumstances.

Read more »


SF tenants can potentially stave off eviction by asserting a COVID-related hardship, courtesy of a new ordinance

San Francisco has done some soul searching in balancing the public policy of keeping renters housed while ensuring that landlords get cash-flowing again. Many questions linger and it will have to all be sorted out in court.

Ask a landlord attorney: 15 minutes with Daniel Bornstein

Daniel talks about owner move-in evictions, the status of the courts, and litigation challenging eviction moratoriums throughout Alameda County in this interview

Meet John, a sad casualty of the archaic eviction moratoriums that exist in Alameda County and Oakland

An Oakland landlord was so riddled with stress about losing his property because the tenant refused to pay rent, he was hospitalized, became disabled, and was forced to quit his job.

Meet Sheanna, another victim of outdated eviction moratoriums

A wonderful landlord poured her heart out to vulnerable people but her independent living arrangement had to be closed because of a harassing, non-paying tenant that could not be evicted.

Predictions of where Berkeley rents are headed

There has been a dust-up in Berkeley with university staff fed up with high housing costs and natives who want their city back. We get out our crystal ball.


Empty promises in taxing empty rental units?

First, San Francisco voters approved a tax on vacant storefronts. Will there be an appetite to punish owners of vacant residential properties come November?


A candid conversation with Daniel Bornstein

A heart-to-heart interview about how courts are functioning, Alameda County's eviction moratorium, no-fault evictions in SF, and rampant crime in and around rental units.


Laws and public policy surrounding rental properties look like a modern-day Robin Hood

There is a movement steaming forward to compel owners to use their property for the greater public good.

Hey, Mr. Weatherman, when can I raise the rents?

Anti-price gouging laws can be triggered because of a drought yet if it rains too much, landlords can also be limited in how much rent can be raised.


Preventing a fire tragedy in the aftermath of the Bronx inferno

Horrified and deeply saddened over the tragedy, we stress the importance of providing adequate heating and recognizing fire hazards.


Reshuffling of owners and tenants during the pandemic is like a game of musical chairs

Throughout COVID, everyone has had ample time for life reassessment, and for many in the Bay Area, this has meant rethinking where to call home, with a host of legal implications for landlords.


San Francisco voters will decide the fate of District Attorney Chesa Boudin in a June recall election

For many rental property owners, he is not an endeared figure. While there will be a referendum on his performance, we remind landlords that the buck stops with them when crime is detected.


California cracks down on fraudulent practices surrounding emotional support animals

While rental housing providers must make "reasonable accommodations," AB 468 sends a clear message that these accommodations should be reserved for those with legitimate needs.


Is your website compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Being compliant with the ADA is not a new concept, but a rash of lawsuits throughout the Bay Area has brought this issue more top of mind.


San Francisco looks to give problematic tenants more time to pay rent or turn over a new leaf

A proposed ordinance would require landlords pursuing certain types of evictions to first provide their tenants written notice and an opportunity to cure, unless the eviction is based on an imminent health or safety issue.

New Year's resolutions for landlords and property managers

As we look into the mirror, there is a lot we have learned in what has been a tumultuous year for our community. In an annual tradition, here's what made our top 10 list of how we can improve in the New Year.

From the archives

Putting people over technology when it comes to tenant screening

Tenant screening has always been a vitally important part of landlording and property management that has become all the more relevant in the age of COVID. Of course, we live in a digital age and while technology plays a part in tenant screening, it is no panacea. And the cloth cuts both ways.


Tenant buyout agreements: some tricks of the trade

We dispense some tips when negotiating an ethical, legal, and enforceable tenant buyout agreement.


The movement for denser housing builds momentum

It's finally sinking in that more housing, not increased regulation, is the answer to solve our affordable housing dearth.


Should landlords raise the rent just because they can? A bit of strategy

We don't have a crystal ball but we can do the next best thing in giving a 360-degree view of the market and impart some thoughts on getting cash flowing again.


Tenants may soon get a bigger megaphone to air out their concerns under an ordinance proposed by San Francisco lawmakers.''

In this blog, we impart some advice in the eventuality that tenant organizations are formed and the landlord feels cornered by residents who express grievances.


Space is a scarce and prized commodity in the Bay Area so it is no wonder why parking has become a vexing issue for drivers, landlords, and tenants

Physically removing a vehicle can fix an immediate problem, but it can invite acrimony later on.


The good, the bad, and the ugly about rental housing inspections

Keeping a rental unit in habitable condition is a three-fold responsibility between landlords, tenants, and municipalities policing the relationship, but these lines are often blurred.


Although lawmakers pass a bill establishing a fund to fight evictions, Governor Newsom refuses to sign it

The "no eviction without representation" movement has its roots in San Francisco, but AB 1487 would have created a statewide fund that would, among other things, provide direct legal representation to tenants staring at eviction.


California cracks down on fraudulent practices surrounding emotional support animals

A newly enacted law sends a clear message that accommodations should be reserved for people with a genuine need for four-legged companions and puts some common-sensible measures into place to ensure that there are no abuses.


Our takes on the Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal eviction moratorium

While the SCOTUS decision will have little impact on California, it does teach us an important civics lesson in the separation of powers.


Using Temporary Restraining Orders to respond to violence or threats by tenants

Temporary Restraining Orders can be sought to immediately control the behavior of bad actors in a rental unit but the court is typically reluctant to order the removal of a tenant from a rental unit through civil harassment proceedings, preferring instead to rely on the unlawful detainer process to secure possession for a landlord.


After another Airbnb party tragedy, rogue short-term rentals are back in focus

After yet another tragedy unfolded in a Sunnyvale Airbnb party house, we revisit the liability associated with the modern-day iteration of the temporary flop.


Thinking smarty and strategically about tenant buyout agreements in the age of COVID

A huge pot of rental assistance funds available has changed our calculus a bit on approaching agreements whereby the tenant voluntarily vacates the unit.


Study confirming the uneven impacts of the pandemic on small landlords and their tenants is off the press

UC Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation published the results of a national survey that confirmed the obvious - mom and pop landlords are in dire straights after experiencing a shortfall in income.


Impact of bankruptcies on California eviction actions

We've heard apocalyptic predictions about an impending eviction "tsunami," but what about a bankruptcy tsunami as debtors finally have to pay the piper? A bankruptcy can be a thorn in eviction proceedings but will only delay the inevitable.



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