ExperienceProperty Rights & Rent Control

  • In Fisher v. City of Berkeley, 37 Cal. 3d 644 (1985), the firm represented a group of Berkeley property-owners before the California Supreme Court in a case that established that rental property-owners are constitutionally entitled to periodic rent adjustments to offset the erosionary effects of inflation.
  • On behalf of representatives of the rental housing industry, Nielsen Merksamer successfully successfully challenged a 2013 San Francisco ordinance that imposed a ten-year ban on unit mergers, on the ground that the ban was preempted by the Ellis Act, in San Francisco Apartment Assn., et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, 3 Cal. App. 5th 463 (2016).
  • On behalf of representatives of the rental housing industry, Nielsen Merksamer successfully brought suit to invalidate key provisions of San Francisco’s “anti-harassment” ordinance for violating the judicial powers clause of the California Constitution and the First Amendment, in Larson v. City and County of San Francisco, 192 Cal. App. 4th 1263 (2011).
  • In the landmark case of Cwynar v. City & County of San Francisco, 90 Cal. App. 4th 637 (2001), the firm successfully challenged an San Francisco rent control ordinance that precluded landlords from evicting a tenant from a rental unit so that the unit could be used as a residence by the owner or a close family member represented an unconstitutional physical taking of property.
  • Nielsen Merksamer attorneys represented amicus curiae in federal court in a successful takings challenge to a 2014 San Francisco ordinance that requiring rental property-owners to pay evicted tenants two years’ rent differential between their prior and new housing units.
  • In a number of cases against local rent boards, the firm has successfully represented landlords in enforcing their rights under the Costa-Hawkins vacancy decontrol law to increase rents to market rates upon vacancy. In each case the rent boards sought to construe Costa-Hawkins narrowly to limit the ability of landlords to obtain rent increases.
  • In Rose Ventures III v. City of Oakland Housing, Residential Rent and Relocation Board, a suit brought in Alameda County Superior Court, we successfully represented the owner of luxury apartment buildings, obtaining a court order overturning a Rent Board decision that granted tenants hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent reductions for alleged “reductions in service.” On remand to the rent board, the rent reductions were pared back by 80% of the original amounts awarded.
  • Representing the Rental Housing Association of Northern Alameda County, the firm successfully challenged the constitutionality of numerous provisions of Oakland’s Proposition EE, which imposed broad and unprecedented restrictions on owners’ rights to prosecute unlawful detainer actions against tenants in Oakland. The challenge resulted in a number of those provisions being voided and others being amended pursuant to a subsequent settlement.