Laws are always changing. All the time. Our moral compass and core values do not.
Rental housing providers have undergone a whirlwind of change, especially through the ever-evolving landlording rules during COVID-19, but what guides Bornstein Law is a set of philosophies that have remained constant in the 26+ years of our professional careers.
Our governing beliefs
Litigation is not like a Warriors game or a Giants game when one side wins and one side loses.
It's not helpful to think of litigation as a sporting event. Even if the landlord wins, the question we ask is at what cost?
Our goal at Bornstein Law is to resolve disputes as cheaply and as expeditiously as possible, taking into account time, risk, and attorneys' fees. Many times, it is easier to compromise and strike a deal with a tenant than to pursue litigation.
Although we are not doctors, we do take the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Litigation is often necessary but should be used as a last resort. Our goal never is to elongate disputes.
Small landlords are most at risk of making a misstep in a complicated regulatory regime.
We have worked with the largest and most sophisticated landlords and property management companies, but there is a special place in our hearts for responsible, small mom and pop landlords who are the largest engine of safe, clean, and affordable rental housing.
They are also the most vulnerable to colossal expense and liability when there is noncompliance with the law.
At Bornstein Law, we are proud to help small landlords navigate the many minefields that await them when there are any rules that are overlooked or a rental relationship fails.
Problems should not be allowed to fester. They should be addressed at the outset.
From our hard-won experience, many landlords are conflict avoiders that prefer to kick the can down the road. Through many years of managing landlord-tenant relationships, it has become clear that the stress of thinking about having a difficult conversation is more stressful than having the actual conversation itself.
We urge landlords not to engage in wishful thinking and cling to the hope that problems will resolve themselves on their own. Once there is friction in the relationship, any issues should be addressed head-on.
In non-payment of rent cases, we highly recommend making it a uniform policy to serve a 3-day notice and make this clear at the outset of the relationship, informing the tenant that this blanket policy is done out of fairness for all residents.
When there are nuisances and other issues that arise, our strong preference is to broach a conversation early on, have a fluid dialogue, and have some written documentation.
Landlords have been shouldered with an inordinate amount of responsibility and blame, but Bornstein Law has provided a counter narrative.
Housing has become a topic with a lot of political blowbacks in the Bay Area even before the pandemic. The rhetoric has always fallen squarely on the side of tenants' advocates.
Enter eviction moratoriums and government edicts. Since housing has been deemed a necessity, landlords have been asked to provide a free service. Contrast that with another necessity of groceries - we can't walk into a supermarket, fill up the shopping cart with eggs, bread, meat, and milk, then tell the clerk or the manager that we will pay them at some point far-flung in the future when our economic situation improves.
Alongside our industry partners, Bornstein Law advocates for the rights of property owners and provides a unique perspective that is often drowned out by coverage of tenant injustices.
We have always operated on the presumption that there are good landlords, bad landlords. Good tenants, bad tenants. No side should be painted with a broad brush.
Education is key.
Understanding the myriad of state laws and a patchwork of local rules is difficult for experienced attorneys and even judges, let alone landlords, property managers, and real estate practitioners.
That's why Bornstein Law has made it a commitment, through multiple venues, to break down the regulatory framework in an easily digestible fashion.